Fake Interviews! Graduates Beware, July is the Bad Month


London Interview Coaches know all about fake interviews. I have advised many a novice jobseeker about the danger signals, and have my own personal examples to offer as well.   They know that now is a peak time for flaky recruitment practices to thrive, when young bloods fresh out of school, college and university get the longed-for invitation to an interview. This might entail two full days of team activities and assessment. So it’s time to face the unpalatable facts of career life. This could be your first fake interview experience coming up, but it almost certainly won’t be your last. You may not even recognise it because some are more blatant than others. 

jobseekers in SW19 and London face fake interviews

Another bewildered young graduate undergoes a Fake Interview

Fake interviews make a mockery of all your careful preparation and practice. They leave you feeling demoralised, downhearted and used. Why would anyone hold a fake interview? Talk about a waste of time! In fact, there are three main reasons.

  • Reason One: Fake Interviews are for Ticking Boxes

An organization that operates on tax payer money is legally bound to recruit in a certain way, with application forms and candidates selected for interview according to Equal Opportunity legislation. Unfortunately, this doesn’t guarantee integrity.

Any candidate may be more vulnerable to being a token interviewee if they have a “Diversity” value. If they are older or younger than usual, help redress the male/female manager balance, have a health condition or disability, and/or belong to an ethnic minority. Your interview could be keeping up a certain quota.

Here is a real life example of a “box-ticker” fake interview, where the employer had already made a choice.

Job Candidate Jenny went for a staff interview at a well-respected College of Further Education. She was asked to write – in advance – a selection of Case Study summaries and bring them on the day. It was during the Summer break and the college was not only skeleton staffed, but at sixes and sevens because of a computer crash. Reception was deserted.

Finally Jenny hunted out a lone admin lady who confirmed her interview details. She even found the interview venue (a prefab block way out in the grounds).There she waited in the corridor for her midday appointment. For nearly an hour she heard the previous candidate discussing relocation and start date details with the panel. The word “Congratulations!” rang out loud, clear and often. At 1.15 they all spilled merrily out, all smiles, laughter, and handshakes. “See you in September then!”  Everyone’s back was turned to the Cinderella candidate.

“Excuse me,” Jenny said. “I’m here for a 12 o’clock interview?”

We’re going to lunch now!” said the leader of the pack, coldly. “We’ll be back around 2.”

What would you have done in Jenny’s place? Against her better judgement she stayed. Her own 10 minute interview was gabbled and garbled. Her Case Study papers were handed back unread as she left. It was outrageous. 

Back home she tried ringing Human Resources – she kept trying for several days. It was always on recorded message, and no-one called back. She never had a “Regrets” letter, either. All giveaway signs of a Fake Interview. Jenny had a job already, and decided not to make a written complaint. There no witnesses. She has never recommended the college to students after that day.

Reason Two:   Picking Your Brains /Acquiring Free Material in a Fake Interview

Any enterprise will benefit from information, especially given by an experienced professional (or one who has just benefited from up-to-the-minute training) . Were the questions very detailed? Did they take (and keep!) any of the following:

  • Extensive notes
  • A copy of your presentation
  • Your sample hand outs and lesson plans
  • A sample of your written creative or information material

Be bold! Ask for them back! Ask them what exactly they need to know, so you can tailor your response, instead of giving step-by-step instructions on how to solve an operational problem. Occasionally a fake interview is more benign. A company wishes to meet you, because you might be a good fit for their organization. In which case this should be off the premises or at an event. This is networking.

Reason Three: There Isn’t Really a Job

Commercial companies that work on government contracts often recruit because they have good hopes of securing a new one. They recruit you because they might need you. Often they will explain this candidly at the interview. However, they sometimes keep quiet because they don’t want you joining up with another company while they wait to hear.

HR professionals may also hold excess interviews to impress management with their productivity. Again – a big company that always recruits graduates every Summer might go ahead with the “milk round” process. even though they cannot afford to employ. Waving the red flag of cutbacks would damage their market credibility. It wasn’t just you – no-one got the much coveted job. There wasn’t one. Check out this website https://recruitingtimes.org for more advice.

Worst of all the Fake Interview scams is the unpaid shift or extended work trial. A few unemployed candidates or media hopefuls could possibly benefit from this practice, but be very wary. It doesn’t take many “free work weeks” to get a sandwich bar through the busy season. Just half a dozen hopefuls who turned out to be “Not fast enough.”

A Job Search Coach can help you avoid the worst misery of fake interview experience. Private Tuition in SW19 offers expert help. Contact me !





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