Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.


Question: There are so many employment scams on the Web. Should you accept interviews using Google Hangouts?

Nick Corcodilos: It’s not clear whether you’re referring to being recruited for an interview on Google Hangouts, or actually having the interview on Hangouts.

First, I’m not a fan of any video interviews. My rule is that an interview should be on the phone or in person. All interviews are stressful, and “phoners” are awkward enough — but of course, a company is not likely to meet you until it screens you. But video can magnify a candidate’s natural nervousness unfairly — to say nothing of revealing racial, physical and other cues that may trigger discrimination.

Video creates another problem that candidates are often unware of. Any screening interview, by phone or otherwise, is not intended to select the best candidates. The purpose of screening interviews is to eliminate as many candidates as possible early in the process to save the employer time. Thus, any tic, expression, or involuntary body language gives the screener more reasons to reject you. If an employer has legitimate screening criteria, these should be narrowly defined — and a phone call keeps the exchange more narrow than video will.

I’m especially against automated interviews. A recruiter or employer that expects you to invest your personal time to participate in a job interview must be willing to invest their own time. If they expect you to “interview” indirectly, I suggest you move on. (Please see “HireVue Video Interviews: HR insults talent in a talent shortage.”)

However, if a recruiter insists on using Google Hangouts (or Facebook or LinkedIn or some other social network) to recruit you and to schedule an interview with a live person on the other end of the line, I’d politely ask that they email or call you to confirm the interview. I’d press for a telephone call. If they are going to initiate the phone call, ask them to provide their telephone number anyway, along with their street address, website and their LinkedIn page. Then look them up using multiple online resources to confirm their identity – and that they are legitimate.

Keep in mind that just because a recruiter claims to be working for a company, doesn’t mean they really are. Make sure the contact information they provide resolves back to the employer whose job you’re interested in.

Here’s the gold standard: If you can independently find the company online, call the main telephone number listed and ask for the Human Resources department. If HR doesn’t recognize the person that’s recruiting you, then you will know there’s a problem. Even third-party recruiters have identities that you should be able to verify.

There are simply too many recruiting scammers out there to trust anyone who cannot or will not provide that information.

Legit employers will behave transparently. But it’s still your job to check them out first.

Don’t let the ridiculous levels of automation in the recruiting and hiring process lead you to dispense with your common sense. Any employer that’s so disrespectful as to demand your time without investing their own is probably not worth engaging with.

I hope that helps you select good employers and avoid questionable ones.

Dear Readers: Have you ever been scammed by a “recruiter?” What happened? How did you know it was a scam?

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