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Old 08.10.2019, 16:31
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Trickery and deceptive interviews?

I'm looking for a job at the moment and I have been caught by surprise on how many small startup companies in Zurich (not the big names though) have been inviting me for interviews and trying to use the interview process to solve their problems or get new ideas, opportunities or even IPs misusing the system to get free unpaid work. Then later no offer and despite the good impression on the interviews I get the feeling that they are simply deceiving candidates ...

Company A invited me for a technical interview and asked me to solve the architecture of their new product. They even took pictures of the solution I provided, and I never heard back from them again. They even expected me to provide feedback on their business plan and roadmap without an offer.

Company B asked me to review the core of their business idea and come up with ideas to improve it, I had an idea and shared it with them to later realize that they had no intention to follow up.

Company C asked me for "a brief time of trial working to see if we are a fit and that it normally takes from 3 days to a week". I was perplexed by this request. To work for free for them to decide ... is this even legal?

My point is, be careful with small start ups and the questions they ask in interviews as it lately seems like a blatant abuse and misuse of the interview process. I have been respectfully saying I will not answer technical questions leading to an usable solution or idea for their business without an offer or contract.

Are there laws to protect from these?

Last edited by Mr.Maquiavelo; 08.10.2019 at 16:44.
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Old 08.10.2019, 16:34
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Re: Trickery and deceptive interviews?

Vague descriptions and saying they have to hire you before you give the solution?


Yes, it happens, very annoying and cheap way to get a solution....
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Old 10.10.2019, 00:43
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Re: Trickery and deceptive interviews?

Not a new thing. I was talking to another friend who also does translations about how a company offering freelance translation work had sent me several slides from a presentation to translate as a "test of my skills". The content of the slides struck me as a bit random but I was a student and needed another source of income so I translated and sent it to them. Never heard from them again. By coincidence, my friend had applied for the same job - she had also been sent slides to translate, did it and was then ghosted.

We compared what we'd been sent to translate; it was evidently the same presentation but different slides. How cheapskate do you have to be to pull off a stunt like that?
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Old 10.10.2019, 09:14
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Re: Trickery and deceptive interviews?

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We compared what we'd been sent to translate; it was evidently the same presentation but different slides. How cheapskate do you have to be to pull off a stunt like that?

Also nothing new in the translation industry - along with those companies that are "professional complainers", making totally unfounded complaints then refusing to pay for the translation and, strangely, never using the same company twice. And thereby getting all their translations for free
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Old 10.10.2019, 09:47
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Re: Trickery and deceptive interviews?

It's happened to me as well: that companies want to get solutions in an interview for free, and then ghost you; or they directly ask you to implement a solution for a fictional problems that turns out to be not fictional; or that they want you to work for up to 1 week as a "test phase", even knowing you are employed full-time.

I usually give them the finger.
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Old 10.10.2019, 10:51
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Re: Trickery and deceptive interviews?

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I'm looking for a job at the moment and I have been caught by surprise on how many small startup companies in Zurich (not the big names though) have been inviting me for interviews and trying to use the interview process to solve their problems or get new ideas, opportunities or even IPs misusing the system to get free unpaid work. Then later no offer and despite the good impression on the interviews I get the feeling that they are simply deceiving candidates ...

Company A invited me for a technical interview and asked me to solve the architecture of their new product. They even took pictures of the solution I provided, and I never heard back from them again. They even expected me to provide feedback on their business plan and roadmap without an offer.

Company B asked me to review the core of their business idea and come up with ideas to improve it, I had an idea and shared it with them to later realize that they had no intention to follow up.

Company C asked me for "a brief time of trial working to see if we are a fit and that it normally takes from 3 days to a week". I was perplexed by this request. To work for free for them to decide ... is this even legal?

My point is, be careful with small start ups and the questions they ask in interviews as it lately seems like a blatant abuse and misuse of the interview process. I have been respectfully saying I will not answer technical questions leading to an usable solution or idea for their business without an offer or contract.

Are there laws to protect from these?
Of course there is another possibility.... some other candidate offered a better solution or they just did not like your face.

Certainly refusing to answer technical questions on the basis that your answers would be so good that they might steal them does not paint you in a good light. You come of as arrogant, a difficult person to deal with and probably not much of a team player.

When it comes to the interview stage IT people almost always forget that the technical side plays a very limited role in the decision. You have two or three people who can fit the role technical, you’re just confirming your assumptions. The big question to answer is how will this person fit in with everyone else.
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Old 10.10.2019, 11:39
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Re: Trickery and deceptive interviews?

Is this along the lines of the Hackathons sponsored by companies, basically a huge collection of people all competing to solve a problem which ends up being substantially cheaper for the company than actually hiring people to fix it? In the short term at least.
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Old 10.10.2019, 12:45
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Re: Trickery and deceptive interviews?

Interviewing candidates is a whole lot of work. I very much doubt companies do this to pick brains for an hour. That would be a terrible business idea as the risk of not getting anything out is way too high and the effort does not match the outcome. I personally find it very hard to conduct interviews on the hiring side. I always prepare some sort of case study or example from every day work. Because it adds relevance. I dont think there has ever been an applicant so brilliant that he solved my issue in an hour interview and thats not the goal - i want to get an impression on how somebody thinks and works. If the applicant thinks that his ideas are so brilliant that he just within a few minutes solved what the company has been struggling with for years… well, its a case study - trust me, I knew the answer before I asked you the question. And if there were errors in the code were they there because I put them there and wanted to see if you can spot them.

I have recently interviewed with a start up company and they made me jump through more hoops than any corporate. I guess that if you are the ONE guy doing a particular job in a company is the hiring much harder than if you are one out of a team of ten doing it for a large bank. If one is an idiot will the other nine somehow sort it out later… so the startup has a higher need to get the hiring right. Having said that: some startups live in their filter bubble and are convinced that they are the most awesome people to work for ever… and give you that attitude. If that already shines through in the interview can you expect a whole lot more of that later on... so choose your job accordingly.
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Old 10.10.2019, 13:07
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Re: Trickery and deceptive interviews?

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Having said that: some startups live in their filter bubble and are convinced that they are the most awesome people to work for ever… and give you that attitude. If that already shines through in the interview can you expect a whole lot more of that later on... so choose your job accordingly.
If you work for the most awesome people/company you have to make compromises on other sides of the problem, the usual suspects being the financial part or the amount of hours worked. You get something, so you have to give something in return. I wouldn't consider working for a startup, unless I wouldn't have another option.
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Old 10.10.2019, 13:09
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Re: Trickery and deceptive interviews?

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Is this along the lines of the Hackathons sponsored by companies, basically a huge collection of people all competing to solve a problem which ends up being substantially cheaper for the company than actually hiring people to fix it? In the short term at least.
Pretty much the same, they must be really desperate. A hackaton is primary a marketing tool. Free work to promote a corporation.
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