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As a writer and a workaholic, I have a lot of beef with the people and organizations that offer fake job opportunities. The working world is filled with them — and many of them take advantage of people who are disenfranchised, new to the game, or just really in need of new work.
Fake job opportunities cost people money and prey on desperation. They're wrong and unethical as can be. Most of the time, you can spot signs the job offer isn't real via the ads they post.
However, some fake jobs will go the extra mile in their con and actually invite you to interview with them. These can be harder to spot, and that's why they often end up victimizing so many people. That's why I'm making this guide about signs you're interviewing for a fake job opportunity.
They do group interviews.
Very, very few good jobs — if any — will involve group interviews. That's why it's one of the most obvious signs you're interviewing for a fake job opportunity.
Interviewers who do group interviews are trying to do three things:
- Make sure you don't speak up. When we're in a group, we are much less likely to go against the general flow of things, especially when we may get humiliated by doing so. By having other eyes there, they're forcing you to "play along" in a subtle way.
- Make you feel like you need to compete harder to get the job. They do this to point out how many applicants they can have, and how many are willing to "take the job" if you refuse. It's basically building urgency so you feel you need the job.
- Get as many people in the door as possible, regardless of quality. Most fake jobs don't care who you are or what you did. If you have a pulse, they'll invite you. MLM groups often call this a "cattle call" and will hold up to eight group interviews per day just to sucker three people in.
You feel like they're trying to sell you the job without actually tell you what you're doing or how much you'd get paid.
One of the signs you're interviewing for a fake job opportunity is the way they explain everything to you. Real jobs will have no issue telling you what you're supposed to do, and will always make a point of telling you what the exact offer would be.
Fake jobs, on the other hand, won't be so forthright — because it's not in their best interest to do so. If you literally have to pry it out of them, then it's very likely that you're dealing with a fake job opportunity that will probably put you in a worse position than you are now.
This is doubly true with money-related discussions. Fake jobs will tell you how much money your boss is making, or will say something along the lines of "you can make as much as you want!" But, your own wages? Fuggedaboutit.
You searched them up, and you're pretty sure you're dealing with an MLM.
Some MLM schemes are remarkably smooth when it comes to their recruitment and how they present themselves. That's why people don't realize they're being scammed when they're interviewing for them. I don't care what the interviewer says — if the company you're interviewing with is labelled as an MLM online, you need to run.
This is one of the most damning signs you're interviewing for a fake job opportunity. Regardless of how good that sales pitch they're giving you sounds, your best bet is to run for the hills the moment you realize what's going on.
They ask you to pay to work, or they tell you to work for free for "exposure."
For me, both of these requests are pretty clear-cut signs you're interviewing for a fake job opportunity. You should never have to pay an employer for training as a contingent on getting the job, nor should you ever feel like you need to work for free for "exposure."
There are only three main places where working for free actually are the norm: modeling, the arts, and unpaid internships which culminate in college credit. Even then, there are not many moments where working for free is worthwhile.
If you have experience and a full portfolio, pass these opportunities up. There's no shame in admitting you need to eat.
The job interviewer is super-inappropriate.
With many people, one of the more terrifying signs you're interviewing for a fake job opportunity deals with the interviewer himself. If you notice they are way too casual, acting out in a sexual way towards you, or just being downright insane, it's very likely a fake job — or a good sexual harassment case.
The job title you applied for doesn't match what they're now offering you.
This is called the "bait and switch," and it's one of the most common signs you're interviewing for a fake job opportunity. When you're bait and switched, the job that you get offered is often way lower paid and typically is totally irrelevant to what you applied for.
The most common way this works is that they just rope you in with a better offer. The ad said management, they put you in sales. They said they wanted you to be the Director of Marketing, they actually put you as an influence blogger.
Some people, though, will bait and switch by getting you to give more advice through multiple "interviews," with the position or role changing each time you interview. Either way, it's something to be vigilant about.
Being baited and switched actually feels hurtful — and it should. They wasted your time. In this event, thank them for their time and tell them you're not interested.
They're regularly asking you for advice or work, but won't discuss the hiring routine they want to employ.
This is one of the subtler signs you're dealing with a fake job opportunity that most people miss. A lot of companies who are on a hyper-shoestring budget will actually dangle a job offer over a person's head while they get information, advice, and promotions for free.
Fake job users like this tend to act like that friend who always asks for money but never wants to hang out. They may bounce in and out of your life, calling you up to talk about a job possibility only to fade out.
They may also be hyper-friendly, compliment you a lot, and write down the answers you give them. Sometimes, they'll even act like you already work for the company — because you do, you just don't get the money you deserve from it.
They ask you to provide some very private information about yourself.
Do they ask you to provide credit card numbers, bank account numbers, or similar information to them during the interview? While giving private info is totally normal if you're hired, it's absolutely not normal during a job interview!
If you don't have a job offer letter from them, then you definitely shouldn't be giving them your credit card information. As such, this is a sign you're interviewing for a fake job opportunity.
They ask you virtually no questions at all, but then hire you.
This is one of those signs you're interviewing for a fake job opportunity that is pretty obvious in hindsight. If an interview takes less than 5 minutes and involves asking you almost nothing, there's usually a problem with the company in question.
More often than not, if they are that quick to hire you, it's because they are looking to hire anyone they can. Sadly, a lot of bad companies will try to recruit a salesperson who'll work on commission-only this way — and in my book, that's not a real job.
The office mood is abysmal.
Beware of going to a job where everyone is acting gloomy, anxious, or sad. This is often a sign of a high turnaround rate, or desperation due to the fact that they're not being paid a living wage.
This is one of the few signs you're interviewing for a fake job opportunity that may actually be somewhat legitimate. However, more often than not, applying for a job at this place will be a major loss on your end.
Another sign you're applying for a fake job opportunity are the reviews you see online. If they regularly get accusations of abuse or cheating people out of money, you need to bail.
There's a reason why the people seem so unhappy, and if you stick around, you'll find that out the hard way.
You feel like they want you to drink the Kool-Aid.
Does everyone there seem overly happy and amped? Did the job interviewer start the interview by talking about the importance of hard work? Is there a certain oddly conformist, cult-like pressure in the air? Does the interviewer warn you about negativity?
Many fake job opportunities start their "sales pitch" and indoctrination by making sure that you'll do whatever you can to fit the mold. That often means they will use recruitment tactics cults as a way to make you fall in line.
Just saying — if it acts like a cult, it probably is a cult.
Something about the job interview just strikes you as "off."
Does the interviewer seem a little bit too shady? Are you interviewing in secret, away from everyone — or even the office? Did the job interviewer reach out via Yahoo chat, or use a personal email address? Did they ghost you?
Whether you interview or not, scam job warning signs are scam job warning signs. You need to be realistic of what a regular company would behave like.
More often than not, if something seems out of the ordinary, it falls in the line of signs you're applying for a fake job opportunity. So, this is a sign you probably should think twice about signing up.