Reading Time: 3 minutes
A lot of inexperienced job seekers fall victims to employment scams, because they lack insight on how to identify fake job interview invitations, fake job advertisements and dubious recruiters.
This was the case with one of my clients.
A few months back, Tessy called my phone. She had some bad news: she fell victim to a job scam.
Only two weeks earlier, someone referred her to me, because she needed professional help to create a Curriculum Vitae that will enhance her prospects at landing an exciting NGO job she found online.
Not too long, she called to inform me that she received an email from the organization, inviting her to an interview.
Meanwhile, the notice was very short, and they wouldn’t consider to reschedule.
Tessy got tensed up. This was her first job interview ever, and she felt inadequately prepared.
So, I offered her a couple of helpful interview tips.
In that rush, I failed to ask her critical questions concerning the interview invitation email she received.
Unfortunately, the supposed recruiter was a scam.
I still feel a pang of guilt each time I remember her experience. I should have asked her those questions.
When she shared the story about her experience with the scammers, I discovered that all the tactics they used on her were familiar to me. Years of interaction with fresh graduates and job seekers in Nigeria have taught me a lot.
So, I made a resolve: no other job seeker should be exploited ever again by these dubious scammers parading themselves as a legit hiring company.
This post is a product of that resolve.
So, if you have ever been a victim of a job interview scam, or you simply want to know how to identify a fake job interview invitation for the sake of sensitizing your friends, read this blog post to the end, as I have uncovered as much easy ways as possible to do this here.
How Do I Know If A Job Interview Is Legit?
You can rightly assume that a job interview invitation is far from legit, if you suspect that the channel or mode of communication is shady, that information provided in the interview invitation present some inconsistencies, and that requests accompanying the invitation are unethical. Of course, there are instances where an employment scam is organized and executed by smooth and sophisticated con actors. These may require more experience and carefulness to detect.
The following tips outlined below will help you identify if a job interview is for real or not.
How To Tell If The Job Interview Invitation You Got Is A Scam
1) You did not apply for the job
Whenever you receive an invitation to a job interview, you should pause and provide answers to these simple questions:
- Did you apply for the job in the first place? If you didn’t, then how did the sender get your resume and contact details? Quite suspicious, right?
- If you did apply for the job, then, how? Was it through an application form in the company’s official website? Or, did you just send in your resume through the company HR email? Did you apply through an agency? Remembering how you applied for this job will help you decide if this invitation is coming from the right person or place.
2) No Genuine Website or Authentic Social Media References
These days, a lot of reputable companies and employing brands have a website, or at least, an official social media handle. Once you receive a job interview invite with no references to the company’s website address or social media page, just go straight to google. Search for the name of that company to see what pops up.
(Warning: It is not sufficient to simply find a website that appears to belong to the sender inviting you for an interview).
Go ahead and browse through their career page. Does the job appear in that page as a vacancy? Is the job vacancy still available?
If not, I would advise that you reconsider attending that interview.
This is a strong sign that someone is using another company’s identity wrongly, to facilitate their scam activity. Consequently, you are being lured to a meeting with a fake recruiter for a non-existent job.
3) They Eventually Ask For Money
Genuine employers will hardly ask you to make any payments to seal your slot at an interview or to get the job. It is highly unethical for any employer to do this, as this can best be described as extortion.
However, these days, job scammers are very smart. They will not come out plain to ask you for money. Instead, they will mask their demands under names that appear quite official and normal.
For instance, some of them will ask you to pay an application fee or processing fee, to enable them qualify and schedule you for the interview. They may request you to make these payments at the interview venue or through a bank account they have provided.
My client – Tessy- the one I wrote about at the beginning of this post, was told that working in the NGO she applied for, required having a special license that can only be issued by the organization. Without this ‘special license’, she would still be considered unfit and ineligible for the job no matter how qualified her resume proved her to be.
Another fake hiring company asked one job seeker to pay for a ‘Mandatory Employment Insurance Certificate’ issued by the legal department of their company.
According to them, this was a security recommendation that ensured that any staff coming to work with them ‘is confirmed to be an honest and terror-free applicant’.
They required the candidate to make this payment before the interview date.
Guess what he would get, if he paid that money – a worthless piece of fancy paper with some gibberish write up on it, that absolutely have no value for securing any real job.
All of these are tactics employed to exploit unsuspecting and desperate job seekers.
4) They Offer You Paid Short Cuts Instead Of Demanding That You Do The Right Thing
Let’s say you are a safety personnel or a Nurse. You already know that you should have a valid practicing license to work.
A fake interviewer will downplay the relevance of your legally mandatory practicing license and offer to cover you up if you pay some money or accept to work for a considerably lower pay.
No reputable organization would do this, instead, they will advise you to do the right thing and either apply for and obtain a valid practicing license or renew yours, if it has expired.
5) Grammatical Inconsistencies
Companies and organizations that take their brand seriously would take their time to write their interview invitation properly and professionally. Of course, they are aware how this contributes to their brand perception and credibility.
On the other hand, if the invitation email or text message you received does not appear professional and is full of wrongly spelt words and poorly constructed sentences, or looks like a crappy piece of copy and paste work, feel free to assume that such interview will not be worth your time.
6) The Communication Channel Is Shady And Identity Of The Company Is Kept Hidden
When you get a job interview invitation by email, check if the sender used a corporate email or a personal email.
Again, check if it is a personalized copy addressed specifically to you (that is to say, does it begin with Dear Smith Kardashian, or whatever you name is), or is it a generic copy (addressed to ‘Dear Candidate’ or ‘Dear Applicant’)?.
In most cases, reputable employers will personalize their emails to you.
In addition, check if they included clues on how to get back to them, just in case you need clarification about their company or the interview.
In fact, even if the email or text message was sent by a programmed robot, or with the aid of an automated service provider, a legit and responsible recruiter will still include options to help you get back to them.
If you can’t find an email address to forward your enquiries to, or a valid phone number you can call, this could mean that they want to keep something away from you, maybe a trapping situation they want you to encounter when you show up blindly.
On the other hand, when you are able to contact them, and the representative on the other side of the line is hostile, in a haste to end the call, or reluctant to share relevant information about the company and the interview, consider this a bad sign.
Reputable businesses send out interview invitations through their human resource departments. These ones are trained to answer your questions in the most professional way.
So, when it is obvious that you are being attended by a non-professional , kindly reconsider the authenticity of the whole thing.
7) The Invitation Starts With, Or Emphasizes On A Mouth-Watering Offer
If any serious company desires to meet with you at an interview, it is often because they are looking for the best hire.
Simply put, they do not want someone whose interest in the job is based on the irresistibility of the remuneration.
They understand that over emphasizing this in the job interview invitation will be a distraction, and will ensure to keep it out, initially.
Therefore, if you receive an invitation where the monetary prospects of attending the interview and getting the job is over emphasized, it could be a ploy to engage your appetite and greed and consequently use it against you.
8) They Request For Guarantors
No genuine employer asks for a guarantor before they even interview you. Professional referees are a usual request, but not guarantors.
When you find a request to present guarantors, this could be an attempt by fake employer to appear real by all means.
9) They Attach A False Sense Of Urgency That Is Purely Unnecessary To The Interview
If a job interview invite states that candidates will be interviewed based on a first come, first served basis, and that you will miss out on the interview if the maximum number of candidates arrive the premises before you, this could indicate potential scam activity.
Reputable employers create a schedule for each candidate they intend to interview.
However, scammers choose to create a sense of urgency, to make it appear that the opportunity is a rare one which can be easily missed if you do not play along with every instruction given to you on a fast note.
Consequently, the scammers make other demands, especially of money (refer to no 3), and demand that the candidate acts promptly or lose the opportunity which is almost theirs already.
A lot of desperate and vulnerable job seekers are exploited when they respond to this type of invitation.
10) A Confusing Address, Or An Informal Interview Venue
If the invitation says that your interview will hold in a hotel room, please, don’t go. It is easy to be a victim of murder, hostage-taking or rape in a place like this.
Again, if they schedule you for an interview at a different part of town from where the company does business, you should avoid attending, especially if you can’t provide you with a good enough reason for choosing that venue.
The interview venue must be an official place of business for the hiring company, or a formal and safe social center, like a coffee shop or cafeteria in the heart of town (in cases of a lunch interview).
Advisably, you should suspect a scam when the interview venue is changed a few more times after you first received the invite.
Employment scammers are becoming smarter by the day. In this post, I did justice to how anyone can identify a fake job interview invitation, and save themselves the time and resources that these scammers are after. There are possibly smoother and more sophisticated means employed by these criminals, so, it is imperative to look through all these signs and more, before deciding which interview to attend or not.
Kindly share in the comments, other tips you know, for identifying false job interview invites, and perhaps your personal experience(s) with them job scammers, if you have had any.
Be kind to share this blog post to any community of fresh graduates, job seekers and friends who will find it useful. Cheers!