How To Spot A Shady Job Recruiter From A Mile Away

bad recruiter signs

Unsplash/Brooke Lark

You just got an email about the exciting job you applied for a few days prior. The issue? It’s 6 p.m. and the recruiter wants to interview you for the job in three hours. You’re pretty sure this is shady behavior, but you should trust this person since they’re with the company, right?

Wrong. There are a ton of great recruiters out there, but like any other industry, there are some bad apples as well. Here are some telltale warning signs that a recruiter is not legit.

You apply for one position and they interview you for a different, lower-paying role.

After you apply for a job and get an email from a recruiter to set up a time for your first interview, all could seem well. Then, that recruiter calls you. The issue? It’s not the position you applied for. While different positions come and go in a company, your recruiter should be straightforward with you about the position you’re about to discuss, especially if it’s different from what you expected.

They make promises that aren’t theirs to make.

The interview process is one big “maybe” on both sides — the recruiter and company are likely starting each sentence with, “If you were to fit this position…” or, “This person would…” — which means that promises of any kind shouldn’t be made so early on. You shouldn’t expect anything set in stone until you physically get your offer in writing, but if a recruiter starts making promises to you about the role or the company, get out of there ASAP. No one can promise you that the company will definitely get another round of funding and that you will definitely be making more money once that happens.

Unsplash/Joshua Ness

They request your personal information over the phone.

Yeah, this is a red flag if we’ve ever seen one. If you’re speaking with a recruiter, especially during the first interview, and they ask you for personal information like address specifics or your social security number, they’re not the real deal. Either that or they’re just botching the hell out of their job.

They seem angry, upset or distressed at any point in the interview process.

The interview process could absolutely be stressful for you and for the company hoping to fill that role, but you certainly wouldn’t show those stressed feelings in an interview, would you? You’d at least try your hardest not to, anyway. The same should be said for recruiters. Your time with them is strictly professional, so if they’re outwardly displaying negative feelings or saying things that make you feel upset, angry or threatened, walk away or hang up. Not worth it, friends.

They call you at odd hours without your permission.

Sometimes, you might be interviewing for a position on the West Coast when you’re on the East Coast, and a recruiter asks if you’re okay with 5:30 p.m. in Pacific Standard Time. Okay, yes, that’s 8:30 p.m. in Eastern Standard Time, but if you agree to the time, it’s all good. When is it not all good? When your recruiter calls you out of the blue after hours (or before standard work hours), it can get weird. And trust us when we say it is weird.

They can’t answer basic questions.

Usually, you’re speaking to a recruiter in the very first part of your interview process, which means that it’s okay to not have every answer. But the recruiter should absolutely be able to answer basic questions like vague job responsibilities, company work hours, whether you’d be working overtime or on weekends or even how many people are at the company.


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