The Undercover Candidate™ was born out of professional curiosity. As a consultant helping organizations develop more effective hiring systems and speaker on hiring and employee development, Nora consistently seeks opportunities to improve her skills and capabilities within this realm. In evaluating her own professional development, Nora realized it had been nearly a decade since she had personally been on the candidate side of the interview process.

It was time to change perspective and re-evaluate hiring strategies from another angle. To that end, she applied for eight positions in and around Colorado Springs, CO, and landed five interviews. What occurred during these initial five interviews was surprising and more than a little troubling to a hiring professional. Were the behaviors demonstrated during these sample interviews an anomaly, or a trend? This question piqued Nora’s curiosity, resulting in her commitment to participate in 100 job interviews across the country as a candidate for positions ranging from office clerk and housekeeper to director of operations.

Her curious nature knowing no bounds, Nora has continued to submit applications and participate in interviews, both for her own research and as a member of The Undercover Candidate Mystery Shop Team, working on behalf of client organizations. This project has allowed Nora to obtain a vast amount of data on what’s really happening behind the interview room door when hiring managers don’t know they’re talking to a hiring expert in the room. 

The Undercover Employee™ developed as a natural continuation of research conducted as The Undercover Candidate™. When Nora began delivering keynotes and leading work sessions utilizing findings from The Undercover Candidate™, participants were interested to know if she ever accepted any offers. The answer is no; while Nora is willing to do a lot in the name of HR research, she draws the line at stealing someone’s identity! The Undercover Candidate™ applied for all positions using the names, backgrounds, and credentials of a cast of characters created in support of this project. However, the question got Nora to thinking: what if?   What if she applied under her real name; what would happen? She accepted the internal challenge, submitting a highly-edited yet truthful application - using her real name - for a front-line, customer-facing position with a Fortune 500 company, and was offered the job. The Undercover Employee™ was born.

Nora vowed to commit to a minimum of a year. One year working in a variety of customer-facing positions. Her goal was to work at between three and five companies depending on how things played out during the course of the employee experiment. The result: sixty-two weeks, five different Fortune 500 companies in retail and food/beverage industries, and a plethora of information on what’s happening in organizations when they don’t know a human resources professional is working behind the counter.