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Monday, May 5, 2014

Job seekers beware! Scammy, sketchy companies are looking for you!




Being unemployed is a frustrating, frightening, and often humbling experience. If you’ve been in the job market more than a few years, chances are you’ve had some memorable job interview experiences, ranging from great to abysmal. 

Today I went on a job interview that was so shockingly sketchy, I must share it with others in hopes my experience will help them avoid a colossal waste of time and energy, and to be aware of the multitude of disreputable “business” practices being used to snare talented people into less than professional job interviews. 



If I wasn’t unemployed at this time, I would never have responded to the request to set up the interview with this firm. It was the typical cold call- “We saw your resume on CareerBuilder, and feel you would be a great fit for our organization. We’d like to set up an interview.” The young woman on the phone told me they are a marketing firm and their boss is in need of someone to help him with all his responsibilities. 

After a few back and forth questions, I ask about the salary and the responsibilities. The caller is vague and won’t commit to telling me either, but keeps repeating that the hiring manager will explain all things when we meet.

I continue to press her and insist on knowing what I am interviewing for. Her words were, “He needs someone to be his right-hand person, assist in all duties of running the office, and will be working to help free up his time.”

I explain that I am a communications and social media person, and will they be needing website content or marketing work for the firm. She replies that there may be many opportunities, but I will have to discuss it all with the boss during the interview. 



I finally agree, with some hesitation, but only because it is very close to my home- less than 10 minutes driving distance, and because per the requirements of receiving unemployment benefits, I must be ready and willing to accept employment. So going to an interview will satisfy that requirement for this week. I have nothing to lose, and who knows, maybe it is something new and different! And the commute would be a dream!

So I think, why not? Go for it! Think positively!!! What have I got to lose, right?



I receive this email, which said: 

 Hi Diana,

Congratulations on being selected for a preliminary interview with our company!

Your interview is scheduled on 05/05/2014 9:15 AM. The interview will give the Hiring Manager, Ramses, the opportunity to get to know you and tell you more about our Company.  

We are located at 4801 B Eisenhower Ave in Alexandria, VA 22304.
Parking in our lot is free and does not require a permit.

When you enter the building our Office is located on the second floor, the first door on the left. Please check in with Kristine at Reception, and be sure to ask for Ramses. The dress code is business professional, and remember to bring a printed copy of your resume! 
 In the event that you are not able to make your scheduled interview date & time, notify me prior to your appointment, preferably by email so that we can give the appointment to someone else. If you have any further questions feel free to reply to this email or contact me directly, (703) 762-6271
 We look forward to meeting with you! 
  
                                     Thinking positively and willing to see what it is all about. 


As I was preparing for the interview this morning, I kept getting this bad feeling in my gut. It was an uneasy feeling, and I started to wonder if it was a good idea to pursue this mysterious job. Being unemployed is very similar to being unhappily single. You really want to FIND the right job. You put yourself out there and hope there will be a good match. Interviewing feels an awful lot like dating. Will it be a good fit? Are we compatible? Do the expectations match up? How do I see myself in this “relationship” in the future?  So many questions, so much hope, so much promise… or not. 

As I drive the 10 minutes to the interview, I am becoming more suspicious. The location is in an industrial part of Alexandria, but I keep telling myself not to be so negative. It is close to two Metro stations, and many areas are in transition! They are building expensive new apartments right around the corner from this area. 

I arrive at the location five minutes early. I walk in, sign the book at the front desk, and realize IMMEDIATELY that something is amiss. FIVE names are in front of mine, and they are ALL scheduled to meet with Ramses (You gotta love that name) at 9:15!!!!

I ALMOST say something, but decide to keep cool, and let it all play out. They hand me a form to fill out, which is pretty standard. I continue to observe the surroundings. I notice all the staff are extremely young- no one is even close to 30. AND they are very questionably dressed. Considering the email instructed me to wear “business professional” I am getting the impression they have no idea what that really means. 

                                                           Becoming skeptical

I am still waiting to be called, and I am listening to people in little offices talking on their phones. ALL the conversations are about coming into the office to interview. They are in the business of setting up interviews, that’s all!!! They have a standard canned speech, asking the exact same questions, “Where do you live? When can you come in for an interview? The boss needs assistance because he is very busy, and isn’t able to perform all of his duties.”  

Now I am 100% sure this is a scam. There is no way possible they are interviewing ALL these people for a single position. I continue to wait, and observe. Honestly, at this point, I have to see how this is going to play out. My curiosity has now completely taken over!


                                                      Hey, What's going on here?

 FINALLY, my name is called. But wait? Where is this infamous Ramses???? I am shaking the hand of a twenty-something with an ill-fitting, cheap suit named… Trevor! And he looks every bit of his name. Now I know this is going downhill so fast, I worry I may lose my temper and tell everyone in this place off. But I keep my composure and follow Trevor into a little office. 

 He asks me questions I have already answered on the form- “Are you currently employed? When can you start?” I answer all his questions, and wait, wait, wait for what he is going to ask me next.

“So we are a marketing firm, and we have clients who are in the home improvement business. Are you familiar with home improvement?”    (Is this EVEN a real question??)

I respond sardonically, “Well, I own a home, so I guess I do.”

Trevor continues, “Our main client is Home Depot. Have you heard of Home Depot?”
 
You can now imagine the look on my face. If you actually know me, you are laughing as you imagine my expression. 


“Yes, I have heard of it.”  

Trevor now ramps up his game- “So, what we need is people to go into the Home Depot and talk about home improvement…”     
  
STOP! RIGHT NOW!  I interrupt him.

“Excuse me, but I believe there has been some mistake. I was contacted by Christine to meet with Ramses, and you are Trevor. I think you have me confused with someone else. I have not applied for a position to go to Home Depots to talk about home improvement. I am here to interview for an Office Management position for the marketing executive. Is he available to speak with me?”
Trevor replied, “Well, all the positions here have to start out as ENTRY LEVEL and…” 

I interrupt him again. 

“You’ve made a terrible mistake. I am leaving now.”

                                                             WHAT did you just say?

And I walked out the door. I considered telling everyone in the waiting room that this place is a giant scam, but then I realized that many of them may be keen on the idea of talking about home improvement in the Home Depot, so I simply marched forward. 

For the record, there is absolutely NOTHING in this world wrong with a job that involves talking about home improvements in a Home Depot, EXCEPT if you have been told- SPECIFICALLY- that the job was something else entirely, AND if you are far beyond an entry-level position. I have been working for 25 plus years, and my skill-set does not involve selling home improvement to Home Depot clientele. 

 The long and short of this tale is BE AWARE, be careful, and ask questions up front. I asked questions, and I was lied to. I knew there were many red flags, and as I stated previously, I wouldn’t have gone on this interview had it not been less than 15 minutes from my home, and because I have an obligation to seek employment opportunities in order to satisfy the conditions of my unemployment payments. 

Had I traveled further, and especially if I had to get childcare or incur another expense in order to go to this interview, it would have been much more upsetting. 


There are many reputable and upstanding businesses and organizations, but be aware that there are also bad and dishonest ones. Believe me, I will not be afraid to ask more questions, and insist on more answers the next time someone cold calls me about a job opportunity. 

Most of all, listen to your gut. If it feels creepy or shady, don’t ignore those feelings. Let’s hope this was my last negative job interview fail! This one will be very hard to top! 

 So LIVE and LEARN!  And here is to better days, and better experiences. And hopefully, a NEW job which is a perfect fit for my talents and level of experience!

16 comments:

  1. I really enjoy studying as well as following the write-up when i find them really helpful as well as interesting. That write-up is just as helpful in addition to interesting. Thank you intended for info anyone already been sporting making your web site this kind of interesting.Today’s Job Market

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  2. What you're referring to is what I call the Pyramid scam of the new age. The "business model" is known as "Smart Circle" and they prey on the desperate (not even, mostly those who are eager and confident!) I'm literally finding as many blogs as i can to see if I can create awareness of this nonsense. I am making a blog about my experience of finding a job and I plan to update it with all of the nonsense posting they have on job sites as well as the names of these companies. Is horrible and despicable. Anyway, you can see the rant about them on my blogs but THANK YOU for doing your part to stop this stuff. Best regards!

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  3. I'm really glad I came across this post. I just received a call and scheduled an interview for tomorrow with a company that I didn't remember applying for. I was in the middle of the shower when the phone rang so naturally I was a bit frazzled with conditioner running down my eyes. When I got off the phone I kept saying to myself, PCI ...PCI what company is that? Did I apply? I didn't see anything in my email to suggest and then it hit me that I hadn't even asked enough questions on the phone to know what role it was for. So I emailed the lady for more information (mind you, she sent me the confirmation for the interview from a gmail - which was a bigger red flagged that caused me to google the address leading me to your stellar post) and she only answered the initial questions of what the company name stood for. I'm going to take a pass on this one for sure. You just saved me a morning of stressful interview prep. THANKS!!!

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    Replies
    1. TinaMarie, I am so glad you found the post useful. Please share it with others in your social media circles. It may prevent this from happening to someone else. Cheers.

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  4. Something very similar happened to me the other day, AIMG is what the company was called, same very young guy in a suit that didn't fit him proper as if he didn't know how to where it right...half way through I asked, "did you even read my resume?!" I told him I don't believe I'm a good fit the secretary was vague and now I feel I was miss led. What a scam!! Sounded like a shined up pyramid scheme!
    Today I get a call to interview to the location in your article, before the interview I googled the address b/c once again uber vauge phone call, BAM your words! Thanks for taking the time to share your experience, saved me the terrible experience...again!

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    Replies
    1. Thank YOU for taking time to leave this comment. Please feel free to share this story with others in your social media circle. People truly need to learn about this scams to save themselves time and energy. By using the power of communication, the internet, and social media, maybe these scam companies will not get any "takers" for their scams. Cheers! Have a great day.

      Delete
  5. Hello! Wow. Thanks so much for this post! I'm currently employed but I have been applying for jobs. So when I got a call from this company I figured it was a company I applied for :? I set up an interview for tomorrow got the address and the first thing I did was to google it to find out more information.

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  6. I have been contacted by them as well, they have a number of companies registered at that address. The main ones are CPI & Fast Trak Inc

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  7. Funny I had to do more research on this company because they too called me last month for a customer service managerial position with a company called fasttrak. The waiting room was extremely sketchy as they had "Family Guy" on the TV super loud. After inappropriate language was said on the show the lady sitting next to me and I looked at each other and I mumbled how inappropriate for an interview. I also noticed people were being called in groups and were going in and out. Apparently the lady next to me and I were called at the same time and we both said well I hope this isn't a scam. They asked us the same questions about availability and whether we were working. Supposedly they worked with Verizon and were looking to training the new employees which excited me as I used to work for Verizon for 2.5 years and have many years of training. Ramsey who interviewed us stated that they will call 5 people back by 5pm so stay close to our phones for the actual interview. Well I never got that call at 5pm even though I was super qualified for the position.

    Well just now I received a call from the same receptionist who asked me the same questions she did a month ago about feeling comfortable training new employees , interviews and a little of payroll all which sounded familiar. This time instead of receiving an email she asked if she could text me the address in which I agreed. She stated that this company was called Global Elite and they would like to meet me for 20 mins tomorrow morning. Well after looking at the address I was like wait a minute this address looks too familiar so I started digging and came across the "Fast Trak" information so I called her back and asked her what's the name of this company again and she said Global Elite, I was like oh because I went to an interview there a month ago under the same address and job description you stated. She proceeded in telling me oh yeah well we share the building with other companies too. So I hung up and started digging online more. Then I texted her and asked her for the company website she texted me back and said it www.globalelitemarketinggroup.com this website has very little content of the company and what it does just like the Fast Trak website. I am so happy I ran into your story which sounded too familiar.

    Needless to say, I will not be wasting my gas and driving down there tomorrow... smh

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    1. Thank you for your comment and sharing your experience. If everyone would share their experience, we would have a more informed community. I tried to report this company as a scam on Yelp!, but they removed my remarks. I don't know why. This firm is a racket and a sham. And they aren't the only one. I'm glad my post has helped others and validated their feelings and experience.

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  8. They are wolfs. There are couple different job ad online they posted. When they want to interview with you, the address is the same; 4801-B Eisenhower Ave. Alexandria, VA 22304 . They change their phone numbers. The thing I could not figure out is , WHY ? WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE INTERVIEW?

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    Replies
    1. The purpose of the interview is to get people to go to Home Depot, and other job sites, and basically pay them nothing but a commission. It's a scam. There are no "real" jobs.

      Delete
  9. Tks very much for your post.

    Avoid surprises — interviews need preparation. Some questions come up time and time again — usually about you, your experience and the job itself. We've gathered together the most common questions so you can get your preparation off to a flying start.

    You also find all interview questions at link at the end of this post.

    Source: Download Ebook: Ultimate Guide To Job Interview Questions Answers:

    Best rgs

    ReplyDelete
  10. Tks very much for your post.

    Avoid surprises — interviews need preparation. Some questions come up time and time again — usually about you, your experience and the job itself. We've gathered together the most common questions so you can get your preparation off to a flying start.

    You also find all interview questions at link at the end of this post.

    Source: Download Ebook: Ultimate Guide To Job Interview Questions Answers:

    Best rgs

    ReplyDelete
  11. This post sounds so much like an experience I had it hurts! This was several years ago before I went to university and I was unemployed after a sporting injury that left me unable to work for 6 months (my employer was actually willing to hold my job while I was off, but I wanted to move on anyways so it seemed like a good time...anyways!) I saw a job posting for this fantastic sounding job. They wanted someone to go to concerts, sporting events, and malls and basically help customers use their software. It sounded pretty fun going to all these places and they promised good pay and the job seemed pretty chill...

    I show up to the interview and its on the second floor of this unmarked apartment/business building, no signs or anything and I was told to go to the second floor and first door on the right. I get in there and its a small reception area with like a fishtank, a really young looking secretary, and 7 other people sitting there with resumes dressed in suits! All the people looked really young like me...late teens early 20s and all looked nervous.

    One girl got on her phone to call her mom, telling her mom that there was a whole bunch of people waiting for an interview. I waited and waited as person after person filled in and out of this tiny office. The girl on the phone just got up and walked out after 10 minutes (Which trust me, knowing what I know now I would have bolted) but I was 19 and unemployed and already drove an hour for this interview so I stuck around.

    Finally they get around to interviewing me almost 45 minutes after they booked me for. They asked me a bunch of questions that seem really irreverent to my knowledge of computers or my ability to communicate, even after the interview the job was really vauge, but he said there was a day of unpaid training I could take and if I passed the test I would get the job for $18 bucks an hour. So I was just happy to have something that paid.

    So next week I show up to this job (I know so many red flags already) and there is a bunch of other young people like me and they are having this "warm up" meeting. For like 2 hours in this room getting all pumped up to go out...and I"m thinking, okay, this seems cool a bunch of young people going out to some concert or mall or something.

    Low and behold we get shipped out and dropped off in some residential part of the city and given a bunch of leaflets for some World Vision type organization and are told to go door to door and to try and get kids sponsored. I told the guy they dropped with me for training that I wasn't expecting to be outside, and why did the company make us use public transportation to get to places. He told me this was just today and wasn't the only thing they did, so I decided to give it a shot.

    So anyways, two weeks of this goes by, literally every day is the same thing. I start talking to the other guys and find out that they've all just been hired, in fact the oldest guy there has only been there 3 weeks, and our "supervisor" had been there just over 6 months...and that was basically all the staff besides the manger & receptionist.

    I also found out that the 18 bucks an hour stopped after 2 weeks and then it was commission based (something they "failed" to mention during the interview.) They also started having me drive people everywhere because I was the only one with a car. After two weeks I was totally fed up and went to go ask for money for driving (which they promised to pay for) they said "we gave you 20 bucks last week" and I just quit. Total waste of my time/energy/attention and a total scam.

    I learned so much about companies after those 2 weeks and how scammy people can be. That was a long story but the point being, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is, and trust your gut, you have red flags for a reason. I work for a good company now and have a degree in HR but man, people will sure try to kick you when you are down.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete