I interviewed for a job that apparently doesn’t exist

A reader writes:

I recently interviewed for a bodily injury adjuster position with a major insurance company. I need some help understanding what happened. This is all very strange.

The interview went really well. I knew walking out of it that I had nailed it. The interviewer seemed genuinely impressed, asked me a lot of questions even after he finished the ones he had prepared, and tried to sell me on the company, and we really clicked personality-wise. The interview was supposed to last an hour, but it was about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Afterwards, he walked me around the office and introduced me to several people. We even discussed a potential start date in mid-April.

I got a call on Wednesday from the recruiter, who told me the hiring manager said I did “exceedingly well” in the interview, that I was an “extremely impressive” candidate, and they wanted me to work for them. Then she said, “Unfortunately, we don’t have any positions available right now.” I was very confused and asked if they had hired someone. She said they had not, that there was never an open position, and that they were only exploring external candidates for potential future openings. They do not have any openings anticipated at this time. She said they were very impressed with me, though, and that the hiring manager wants to find a position for me somewhere with the company. So she offered me the opportunity to interview again with a different manager for a position that pays about $10k less annually.

At this point, I am so confused and angry, though I didn’t show it. I asked her to get some clarification from the manager I interviewed with, because the job posting didn’t say anything about the position being for an undetermined future date, nor was it mentioned in my phone interview or any follow-up calls. In fact, the recruiter herself wasn’t aware there wasn’t actually a job until that day.

I explained I has asked the manager what the start date was, and he said it was flexible, and then we discussed a possible start date next month. Then I asked him when he expected to make a decision, and he said it would be next (this) week. I was surprised, since they had just posted the job, so I confirmed he would be making a hiring decision next week. How do you hire someone for a nonexistent job?!

The recruiter checked with the manager and called me back, stating there is no position at this time and that the hiring manager thought he made that clear. I am quite positive he did not say anything of the sort. She told me he did really like me and wants to get me in the door some way, so that is why they want me to interview for the other position.

I declined to do that, because I can’t afford a pay cut, and because I was getting some serious red flags. I told her to tell the manager thank you for the opportunity and that I appreciated meeting with him and learning more about the company, and to please convey my continued enthusiasm for the position we discussed, if an opening becomes available.

This morning, they reposted the job. It still does not say it is for a potential future opening.

I am so angry and confused. I spent a ridiculous amount of time on this job. I updated my resume, wrote a cover letter, filled out an extensive online application. Then I did an hour-long exam to show I was qualified. Then I did a phone interview, using my vacation time at work. Then I completed a detailed online profile with the company and did a background check that required me to provide the dates and addresses for every job I’ve ever had and every place I’ve lived for the past 10 years (I even had to reach out to previous landlords and roommates to make sure it was accurate). And for the interview itself, I spent countless hours preparing for different questions. All for a job that doesn’t exist.

I just don’t know what to think here. Can you make any sense of this situation?

What I make of it is that they’re inconsiderate and dishonest.

Sometimes things like this can be innocent miscommunications. But when you have the interviewer talking about a start date within a few weeks and telling you that he’ll make a hiring decision within a week, that’s not innocent miscommunication — that’s someone who’s deliberately giving you misleading information. Or, I suppose it could be someone who’s really, really inept at communication and life in general. But for them to then repost the same job posting again, with no indication that there’s no actual job — even after they know that a job candidate just had major confusion over this — well, those are people who do not give an F whose time they’re wasting.

As for why they’re doing it … it’s hard to put logical reasons on nonsense, but I’d guess that they’ve decided to “see who’s out there,” “get a feel for the current market,” “kick some tires,” or any of the other euphemisms for “we’re feeling indecisive and not sure what to do next.”

Alternately, it’s possible that they were prepared to hire you for the job they talked to you about if certain things fell into place — funding came through, or you totally wowed them, or Fergus in Sales actually followed through on his threat to leave, or who knows what. But if something like that was the case, they should have been up-front with you about that.

To be clear, it’s totally fine for employers to talk to candidates without definite openings to hire for as long as they’re up-front with candidates that that’s what they’re doing, so that those candidates can decide for themselves whether they’re up for that or not.

What they did to you (and to the recruiter) was rude. I’d cross them off your list even if they do come back to you with something more definite in the future, unless they have a compelling answer to what this was all about.

{ 169 comments… read them below }

  1. lowercase holly*

    “What I make of it is that they’re inconsiderable and dishonest.” do you mean inconsiderate?

    1. emma rose*

      its not just dishonesty but they are only looking out for themselves as a company. Unfortunately this goes on in to many companies and through recruiters who by the way do very little and take a huge cut from you being successfully employed and their loyalty is with the company not the candidate. I had something similar happen to me, I reported the recruitment company to their complaints department in a letter. You should do the same because this goes on way to much. With there being no position available and the company knowing this they have intentionally mislead you the sad thing is most people have this happen to them and don’t complain but they should because there is legislation in place to stop this extremely unprofessional dishonest practice both on part of the recruitment agency and the company. best of luck

  2. some1*

    “Alternately, it’s possible that they were prepared to hire you for the job they talked to you about if certain things fell into place — funding came through, or you totally wowed them, or Fergus in Sales actually followed through on his threat to leave”

    This is what I thought happened as I was reading.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      And as I’ve said – sometimes some managers will bring someone with an interesting resume in, just for fun.

      Perhaps they were planning to fire-to-hire, or an open req was pulled or closed, or never opened in the first place.

      Been there, done that.

      1. SL #2*

        Yeah, I would’ve assumed some of the stuff Alison mentioned if it happened to me, but then the job gets reposted… it just reeks of the company trying to low-ball the OP and hoping that she’s desperate enough to take the lower position anyway.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Yeah and if the req got pulled or something why not just say that? And they never should have mentioned a date and then denied an opening ever existed. This is a weird one.

        2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          I had that happen with a headhunter, lured me into an interview under false pretenses. The interviewing manager wondered why I was there, because I was vastly overqualified. But we talked about the position.

          Later that day – the headhunter said “the job does not pay what I told you, it pays (less)”. I got disgusted – called the hiring manager – who advised —

          – the job doesn’t even pay nearly that much
          – “that’s why I wondered why you were here in the first place”
          – “I’M DUMPING THAT HEADHUNTER” — with a cordial apology to me, which I accepted.

          1. Dan*

            I would have cussed out that head hunter. They need your far more than you need them, you can burn that bridge and not even have to worry about your reputation.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep, and glass door to report a bait and switch scam going on. It must be they are not used to getting good candidates like OP.

    2. Amber T*

      But if you’ve gotten to the point with a candidate that you’ve discussed a potential start date, even if it’s flexible, you owe the candidate an explanation of what happened. Sure it sucks and may raise a yellow flag about the company, but to go through ALL of that and then be told the position never actually existed? And to post the position again? Something’s hinky.

    3. Doriana Gray*

      When I read this, I thought, “This is either Travelers, AIG, or Progressive,” all of whom have a reputation for pulling shit like this. Personally, I would have noped right out once they told me about the hour long exam – you don’t need to do that to be a BI adjuster. You either have the claims handling experience or you don’t.

      OP, I’m sorry these people, whoever they are, wasted your time like this. I hope you find a better company to work for soon because BI claims are fascinating to handle.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I had a friend that worked for the first place you mentioned and it was unreal- like you stepped off of planet earth, unreal. So thanks for this comment you really connected the dots for me here.

        OP, bullet dodged. And don’t forget, as a consumer, you can make sure you take your business elsewhere, also.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          I’m not surprised that was your friend’s experience – I have friends with very similar experiences at all three companies. They all fled as soon as they could and went to work for other insurers, too.

      2. Anna N.*

        I work for one of those companies and I didn’t have that experience at all. I am an underwriter and I love working at my company.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          Big companies like this will have different experiences based on job function and location. I work for a major insurer/financial institution in their corporate office and have had few problems, but if you read our Glassdoor reviews from people in our branch and satellite offices (and mostly in support positions), you’d think our company was a nightmare.

  3. Jack the treacle eater*

    A while ago I interviewed for a job that didn’t exist. The company were planning to buy out another failing company, and wanted to have their ducks in a row because they’d have to move fast if the deal came off. They didn’t explain that up front, which annoyed me as they said initially they’d have to recruit fast, then didn’t; but once chased they explained the situation clearly and we all knew where we stood. As Alison says, that seems reasonable so long as everyone knows what they’re getting into.

    1. AMG*

      In addition to this, there are circumstances where this would make sense. I worked in consulting, where you could interview people for a possible project that hadn’t been formalized yet. I also got an internship by going to a cattle call interview where I was told that they weren’t hiring for my degree. I spoke with the manager for the department that matched my degree and yes, they absolutely were hiring! I got one of 16 positions for which about 500 people applied. There can be nuanced cases.

    2. sam*

      I interviewed in a similar situation at one point, but they were extremely up front about it. Basically the company was then a subsidiary of a much larger company, but was getting sold. If the sale went through, it would end up having significantly more SEC reporting obligations, because it would be a much bigger piece of the company that acquired it. (basically, the original owner was so immense, that the sub was immaterial, but that wouldn’t be the case for just about anyone else). So they were looking for good candidates, but the sale wasn’t going to go through for about 9 months. I went through several rounds of interviews where they were all completely up front about the situation, and basically at the end I got a call from recruiting saying, basically, we like you, but you’re not going to hear from us until the deal actually happens. I ended up getting another job before then.

  4. I'm the OP*

    Alison, thanks so much for replying to my letter. I have been thinking about what happened, and I wanted to provide some more information. I think the company I interviewed with are trying to draw in talent with a bait and switch. The company I work for recently restructured, and a lot of senior claim handlers either lost their jobs or are now stuck with no promotional opportunities. We are leaving in droves. The other insurers in the area know this and are trying to snatch us up. Most of us make too much money to consider the lower paying position they offered me.

    I think they posted the bodily injury position to attract us, then try to sell us on the company and all of the opportunities we would have for upward mobility. Then they bait and switch with a lower paying job. Then they get experienced insurance professionals for a fraction of what they’re worth, because they know we don’t have a lot of options.

    Of course, I doubt I’ll ever find out if this is true, because I don’t expect to hear from them again (despite their promises to call me if anything comes up). Which is fine with me, as I have no desire to work for such a morally unconscionable business, anyway.

        1. Amber T*

          I swear if there’s one thing I learned from this blog, it’s that it’s not illegal to be an asshat.

        2. AMG*

          If it were a specific circumstance where they offered a specific position…I don’t know. It’s Monday and I’m sick. Never mind. :P

          1. fposte*

            I actually thought I knew where your mind went: it *isn’t* legal to advertise an item for sale that you don’t have just to get people in to buy; that’s the origin of “bait and switch.” But a job opening isn’t an item for public sale; it’s just a notice of a possibility.

            1. SaviourSelf*

              I wondered if that was what AMG was thinking. That’s why I was asking because the selling of goods makes sense and is in fact illegal to advertise one thing but actually have another. So many times people think things are illegal and it is based in some level (and logic) on something else that is illegal so I always find it fascinating to find their origin of thought.

              1. sam*

                That’s probably what AMG is thinking of, but that’s a very specific area of consumer protection law, and even those types of cases are *extremely* limited.

            2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

              If you saw the movie “The Company Men” – there was once scene in which Bobby (Ben Affleck’s character) was lured into a company interview under the guise of a senior position possibility, only to learn he was a candidate for a lower position.

              Another situation came up in which he all was offered the job, salary, estimate notification and start date, etc. and two weeks later learned the rug was pulled.

              A third scenario – he traveled to another city at his own expense, only to learn that there was “confusion”, his interview was on another day and the boss wasn’t around.

              During my hiatus of a few months in 1990, I had ALL of these happen to me. Plus a couple of interviews where I was being interviewed not for the job, but to provide some type of perverse amusement for managers.

              SO – nothing surprises me. Seen it.

              1. Dan*

                I had an interview with a company who was talking a position up big time. I was unemployed, and this was work that was in my field, so playing it straight with me would have worked just fine.

                But the thing was, the more we talked, the more I realized the job was exactly going to start out fulfilling the hype.

                So… When it came time to discuss salary, I was like, uh, what are we really taking about here? Is this “big time hype” job, or small potatoes job? Turns out they wanted to pay for the later, so much so that I don’t think I would have gotten what I wanted if/when the role expanded.

                They were actually disappointed – so much so they had the CEO call me when I turned them down outright without trying to negotiate. Sorry guys, just because I don’t have a job, didn’t mean I don’t have options.

                1. Ruffingit*

                  Such BS to have the CEO call you personally because it’s about the money and respect. If they aren’t going to pay you what you’re worth, you won’t take the job so unless the CEO is calling to say “We’ll pay you X amount” and X is something you would take, it’s just a waste of everyone’s time.

                  A friend of mine worked at a job where she easily should have been paid twice what she was paid and she was working tons of hours. She was the head of her department and she and her supervisor met with the CEO occasionally to discuss how things were going. At one of these meetings, friend expressed the need for more staff and more money because friend had absorbed the job of another person who was laid off and was working tons of hours with virtually no help and no raise in salary. She was literally doing the job of 2 and maybe 3 people. The CEO of course wouldn’t allow for either more staff or a raise or both.

                  So…friend put in her notice and her supervisor actually cried and refused to accept it, telling friend to write her ideal job description and supervisor would make that happen. Friend said “UM…no, no you won’t because ideal job consists of twice the salary since that is appropriate for the one job I was doing, let alone the 2 or 3 I’ve now absorbed and I need more staff but CEO refuses to give that either. I’m out of here.”

                  Seriously people, don’t be surprised when someone turns you down or leaves a job because they are drowning both in workload and financially and you refuse to throw them a life preserver and then you come back with promises you won’t ever actually keep. Screw that!

      1. Mike C.*

        Yes, at the very least write a Glassdoor review of your experience. Folks should know that this is going on.

    1. Allison Mary*

      Please, please, please go leave a review for this horrid company (the one you interviewed with) on Glass Door, so that other candidates can avoid them! I believe Glass Door has areas both where employees can review the companies they’re currently working for, and where interview candidates can leave reviews on the interview process as a whole at that company. This seems like the prime example of a time to do that!

      1. Allison Mary*

        I mean, I’d still recommend just sticking to the facts as you outlined them in your original letter to AAM, and NOT speculating on the possible bait-and-switch thing, because I think just sticking to the facts will enhance your credibility. But I really think this is the thing to do, here (reviewing their interview process on Glass Door’s website).

    2. Erin*

      Ugh, I’m sorry for your wasted time.

      They are almost definitely being intentionally manipulative. Or, as Alison implied, at best they’re incompetent. Either way, not an employer you want to be working for.

      Again, how much time you put into this definitely sucks. At this point I think you have to just keep on mind we all go through multiple interviews/applications/etc. to then sometimes not get the job.

      Don’t ever assume you have the job until you have an offer, right? I guess that sentiment has never been more true than with this letter.

    3. Amber Rose*

      That was my thought reading your letter as well. Just confirms that they are jerks and you’d be miserable there.

    4. Nico M*

      I though “bait and switch” on first reading. Everything seemed to slick for a cock-up to be plausible.

      Annoying me now in my passive internet job search is a job advertised by an agency i know isnt real.


    5. PNWAnon*

      I think I had the same experience as well at the same company. FWIW, for my initial screening, the recruiter called me 45 minutes late, apologized for the scheduling snafu, and asked to reschedule. At the rescheduled time, she actually called 10 minutes early and I was going to the bathroom. Needless to say, it didn’t go well and put my red flag sensor on high alert.

    6. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      In my early days in computing, a lot of companies would advertise “programmer trainee” positions, to get various operations-based people in the door.

      In my earliest days in my career, I wound up walking out of more than one “interview” like that. There was one place where three of my peers interviewed in the same week, and all three of us terminated the interview session abruptly.

      Even today – some companies exploit the desperate – you think you’re answering an ad for a job opening, only to learn that someone’s trying to sell you a course to help you pass an exam for that job. Or tell you the job pays $x when it only pays half of that.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Happens a lot in retail, they like to have the pipeline stuffed just in case. Many of the job postings are bogus.

      2. Catabodua*

        Or you arrive for your 1pm appointment to find a huge room full of people who were also scheduled to come in at that time. Only to find out that the accounting position advertised was them trying to get you to sell MLM shit.

      3. Scott Levison*

        Years ago, the military would put in ads looking for people with certain skills and to call a number…without the ads saying that it was a branch of the service.

    7. Stranger than fiction*

      Ah, that crossed my mind too, Op. I’ve heard of that happening around here, but it wasn’t insurance industry.

    8. Ife*

      OP, I am just so angry on your behalf. It’s one thing to go on (multiple) interviews and do those terrible online assessments/applications, and then find out that there was no job. But what makes it so much worse is that you were told about a potential start date and *completed a background check*, especially one as detailed as you had to fill out.

      I don’t think there’s anything you can really do about it now, although the suggestion to post a review on Glassdoor is probably a good idea. I hope you find some better alternatives.

    9. Casak*

      This is horrendous, what they did to you.

      It also sounds a bit like a SCAM. In a time where Big Data means big analytics make corporations BIG money, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are just using the “not real” job posting to collect personal data from unsuspecting job seekers in the insurance industry for their own benefit. Did you ask how they store and what they do with your personal info? They may be interviewing BI adjusters in the industry to gain insights on competitors’ processes….

      Please leave a Glass Door review with your experience!

  5. Lolly*

    I see this happen all the time in government contracts. Companies need to know they can fill positions quickly if they get the contract. They do not want people to know the job does not exist or is contingent on a government contract.

    My friend accepted a job and had a start date. She quit her old job and moved. Now her position is on permanent hold because a company who lost the contract is protesting. This puts the entire thing in limbo.

    This is why I took a pay cut to get a stable government job.

  6. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Is it just me, or wasn’t it some company like this (insurance) that was doing some kind of scam to get people in for sales jobs, even though they were advertised as something else? Or was it a MLM scheme?

    Anyway, the false pretense for interviewing plus the ridiculous amount of sensitive personal information that they asked for (that you might have a legitimate need for if and when you are actually hiring) set off all kinds of alarm bells in my head. Or are extensive profiles and background checks really that common before they even consider making you an offer?

    1. Fabulous*

      I don’t know about insurance companies doing this, but in my job search I’ve become leery of “marketing” positions. Half the companies I’ve been called by are really for sales positions. I didn’t know “marketing” and “sales” were interchangeable nowadays…

      1. SL #2*

        My friend is looking for her first post-grad job right now and she keeps telling me about all these great marketing associate jobs she keeps seeing ads for. I don’t have the heart to tell her that 50% of those are probably going to be telemarketing positions…

          1. SL #2*

            I think she’s realized that by now, after a couple of phone interviews. But I don’t think she’s gotten any bites from anything that’s not temp/freelance/telemarketing after nearly 4 months, so she’s really tempted to take one of those offers…

        1. BananaPants*

          Virtually all of them are sales jobs, many door to door sales or telemarketing (or outright scams). My husband’s degree is in marketing but he never managed to swing an actual marketing job after graduating, so he learned long ago that most of those job postings are total crap.

        2. The Carrie*

          Or selling coupons door to door! I never did it, but have a few friends who ended up on a “shadow day” for a marketing firm, when it was really selling coupon books door to door. The stories are absolutely hilarious now when they tell them, but at the time, when you are excited to be interviewing and looking for a serious job, they were serious downers.

          Basically they would show up for a marketing position and would go “in the field”, and they literally were paired with someone selling coupons door to door. My one friend was dressed up for an interview and it ended up raining and being terrible outside and she was freezing. Another friend stopped at his shadow partner’s mom’s house for lunch!

      2. K.*

        Or MLM schemes. I once was part of a group walkout when we realized that “group interview” meant “forced MLM pitch.” (It was pretty satisfying when every single one of us got up and left.)

      3. Allison*

        Yup, I’ve noticed that too. These companies have caught onto the fact that sales jobs aren’t popular but there are lots of people looking for marketing gigs. It’s kind of like how those canvassing jobs are advertised as “community organizing” jobs.

      4. Wendy Darling*

        I’m a data analyst with a user research background (basically my ideal job is super ultra quantitative user research) and I kept seeing jobs with titles like ‘customer experience analyst’ and clicking and then it would become increasingly clear (but was never stated straight out) that these were call center jobs. I also saw a lot of “data analyst by which we mean manual data entry”. It got to feel like any job that didn’t sound prestigious enough they just called a somethingorother analyst to make it sound fancy.

        I’m not sure what the point of that kind of misleading job title is. I’m not going to take a call center job and we’re probably not going to get through interviews without me figuring out it’s a call center job so what is the point of trying to hide that it’s a call center job and thereby wasting both of our time?

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          Wendy –

          Some people are so desperate that they’ll take ANY job. And the devious interviewer doesn’t care, he’ll/she’ll keep going until she reels in a fish.

          The turnover in those jobs is so high, they don’t really care if you come in, work a month and quit.

          The point behind “wasting time” is that they know a lot of people won’t take the job, but SOMEBODY will.

          1. Wendy Darling*

            But won’t the people who are really desperate and will take any job also take the call center/data entry job if it’s actually advertised as what it is?

            1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

              Yeah, and they’ll stay a month or so, as I said. They wouldn’t do it forever.

      5. Cheesehead*

        I have a BBA in Marketing from the early 90s. I learned very early on that “Marketing Rep” was a pseudonym for a “Sales Rep”. True marketing jobs simply didn’t exist for people just graduating with a marketing degree. All that stuff we studied related to actual marketing? Yeah, forget it. The other option was retail. Pity that I didn’t want to do either. I still tell people that was the most worthless major.

    2. Kelly L.*

      Kirby Vacuums is pretty bad for this. They’ll advertise a sort of nebulous position, hire everybody, and try to hustle them out to random other towns to sell overpriced vacuums that same day.

      1. AFT123*

        Dang, they’re still doing this?! They tried to get me like this 10 years ago. I went in for an “interview” and they just told me to make phone calls for 30 minutes. Even as a teenager, I said heck no and left.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      A lot of insurance job listings out there are outright scams or just sketchy as all heck.

  7. Rowan*

    This seems like an ideal time to leave a review on Glassdoor, so that anyone who is considering this phantom job in the future has at least some chance of being warned off. I understand if the OP feels like that would be perilously close to burning a bridge, though.

    1. I'm the OP*

      Believe me, I have been considering it, but I am worried it would come back to bite me. There are enough details in my letter that individuals familiar with the process of interviewing with this company will likely recognize. I hope that is enough to discourage anyone from wasting their time.

      1. Rowan*

        On the other hand, without a company name, this won’t come up in a Google search for prospective interviewees to find. It’s up to you, though, how much risk you’re willing to take, as you say.

      2. Mike C.*

        It won’t come back to you – they’re anonymous.

        Furthermore, you won’t look bad or unprofessional or anything like that for simply describing in plain language what happened. If folks don’t speak up, companies like this can continue to act like this. You have every right to be mad at being treated like garbage, and you have every right to talk about it.

        1. I'm the OP*

          Anonymous, yes, but when there are less than a half dozen interview reviews for this company in my city scattered over several years, my post would stand out. I guarantee if the hiring manager read it, he would know I was the one who left it. And if he did, I worry about how that might affect me (even in ways that are currently unforeseen).

          1. KC*

            i think you are right to worry. you never know what could happen in your current job (you mentioned a recent restructuring in another comment) that could leave you and others in a position where the opportunity presented by the company you interviewed with looked appealing.

            1. I'm the OP*

              Thanks. And honestly, I might have to consider them in the future, because I’m now stuck in a dead end with my own company. Sometimes you have to take a step backwards in order to go forwards. But if I’m going to do that, I’m going to at least wait another 6 months or so until I’m fully vested in my pension, so I can cash that out to take with me and hopefully make up some of the difference.

              1. John*

                Yeah, wait a bit so that the timing won’t point the finger at you and minimize the details. If they’ve posted it again, they are going to have a load of suspects when your post goes up.

                I’m sorry for you. It’s a lesson learned, but I suspect you will go through live without needing it.

      3. JJ*

        Oh OP, I feel so angry for you on your behalf over this incident. God, I would be furious after all that time and effort! To the point you made here, though: I get the vibe that you’re probably not the only person who has been misled in this way (or will be), so I doubt it would come back to you personally. And even if it does, you don’t want to work for them anyway (or anyone who associates with them), so although I understand the fear of confrontation or “payback”, if it were me I’d say that the risk is worth it.

        1. I'm the OP*

          Thank you. I am almost convinced. If I do post on Glassdoor, I think I will need to be very careful and just stick to what happened, and possibly change a few non-important identifying details. It really is a cumbersome application process, and I would hate for anyone else to go through this.

          1. Doriana Gray*

            If this company is one of the ones I think it is, Glassdoor has a ton of negative reviews about their interview processes. In that case, you’d just be repeating what’s already out there about the company (but absolutely give it time if you truly are concerned about being identified).

            1. Not So NewReader*

              There you go, OP, check to see what is written there first and let that help you decide. If there are a hundred voices saying RUN, you might decide that you do not need to add your voice.

  8. JazzyisAnonymous*

    Pretty sure we had the same experience at the same insurance company for an adjuster position. However, I didn’t get all the way to an in person interview before the recruiter realized that position wasn’t actually open. It was reposted today, and I applied again. It was such a weird experience, but I really want to work there…

    1. Doriana Gray*

      May I ask why? Not trying to be snarky, just genuinely curious. If a company treats potential new hires like this, how do you think they treat the people already working for them? I couldn’t do it.

  9. BRR*

    Going by the LW’s comment I don’t think this is the case, but I was rejected for a job with this statement. A lovely retail job when I was in high school.

  10. Barefoot Librarian*

    This honestly sounds like a setup to me. They seemed to go to a lot of effort to get you excited about a job that wasn’t there, only to offer you one that was $10,000 less a year. Something smells rotten in the state of Denmark.

    1. I'm the OP*

      They offered the chance to INTERVIEW for the other job! I didn’t even get an offer! Ugh.

  11. tuesday*

    BAIT AND SWITCH. That is all.

    I would run away from them as fast as possible. They are dishonest. I’d wonder about the recruiter too.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, let’s talk about the recruiter! OP, was it an external recruiter or one who’s an employee of this company? I feel like that sets up two different dynamics, depending.

      1. I'm the OP*

        She is an HR representative of this same company. I apologize, “recruiter” may not have been the right word choice.

        She genuinely seemed clueless and apologetic about the whole situation, but maybe she was just a convincing actress. After all, I thought the hiring manager was genuinely interested in me as a candidate, and now I realize I gave him more ammunition by providing some details about what is happening at my current company. That part is particularly infuriating.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          I wonder if they’re just interviewing to get intel about their competitor (where you work now)??

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        The recruiter may just assume it’s part of the job. She’s just following direction.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If she’s an internal recruiter, though, she should now be going back to the hiring manager and finding out what’s going on. And depending on how senior they each are, could rightly be pissed off at having her time used in that way.

          1. John*

            By what OP has shared, doesn’t sound like the recruiter is pissed. Must be in on the con. As you are fond of saying, “What? No.”

              1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

                And the recruiter’s gotta do what she’s gotta do.

                She’s better off as a recruiter than interviewee for some of the jobs she’s pushing.

                In other words, she has little choice.

  12. Veronica*

    Based on the time investment, using vacation time, and the job being job re-posted, I would be *pissed* and leave negative reviews everywhere I could find, even if it meant burning bridges. That is seriously ridiculous.

  13. Long Time Reader First Time poster*

    The other thing it could be, besides a bait-and-switch, is a hiring manager feeling out options for replacing a person quickly — Wakeen wants to fire Lucinda, but not until he has someone lined up to take Lucinda’s place. Voila, OP is a great fit… but then when Wakeen goes upstairs to propose his plan of firing Lucinda and replacing her with OP, someone comes to Lucinda’s rescue and she dodges the bullet. Sorry OP!

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      OR – some places will publicly post an incumbent’s job and interview people to scare the hell out of him or her. Seen that , too.

  14. Jade*

    I feel for you, OP. I did a little dance with my current job for about 6 months. They brought me in for 2 interviews, told me they’d have a decision within a week, and then that decision got put off indefinitely until 6 months later. At that point they finally told me what the wait was all about- a lack of funding. Looking back on it now I wish I would’ve bailed, because the lack of funding still looms over my company’s head, and the lack of communication about what the hold up was for 6 months was foretelling of how disorganized my boss is. Hindsight is always 20/20. I would consider it a blessing that you’ve been given the chance to see this employer’s true colors before jumping on board.

  15. Shay*

    Same thing happened to me, except they let me go through *4 separate interviews* before telling me that the job didn’t exist.

    I had a 1 hour “chat” with the manager of the role, a 1.5 hour formal interview with the direct peers complete with written exercises to challenge me, a 1 hour interview with the wider peer group, then another 30 minute “chat” with the manager. After being told “sorry, the role doesn’t exist but might in future” I half wanted to invoice them for 4 hours of wasting my time.

    I found another job a few months later, and the time wasting company called me about 2 weeks in asking me if I would consider leaving there as they finally had a role I could apply for.


    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      I know AAM once disagreed with me, that managers don’t interview people just for fun, even if they have no intention of hiring.

      I realize, as this thread proves, that I’m not the only one who has been through “a circus”. Complete with interviewing clowns.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I mean, you can find all sorts of craziness — but “they interviewed you for fun” isn’t the first explanation I’d jump to when there are so many others.

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          I had one guy who did interview me “because he wanted to find out what I was about.” In other words, his own amusement.

            1. Anna*

              Agreed. The reason we’re all sitting here thinking, “Whaaaaa….?” is because it’s not very common.

              1. Turtle Candle*

                Yeah, it’s sort of like that one job interview where they made the interview-ees make dinner for a bunch of executives or whatever it was. It for sure actually happened, and apparently even more than once (since the organization has apparently been doing it for years), but the reason we all went “holy crap that’s BONKERS” is because it is not only ludicrous but vanishingly rare (thankfully!) to see that kind of thing. It definitely happened, but if someone asked me “when interviewing for a job, should I be concerned that I will be asked to be a short-order cook during the interview?” would still be “no.” “Should I worry that they’re just interviewing me for giggles?” is similar: it happens sometimes, but we all think it’s nuts because it’s not only unreasonable but also uncommon.

  16. Loremipsum*

    Sorry to read about this happening in the year 2016. I am also sorry to say that this happened to me TWICE in the early 1990s. One of these was the employment office of a prominent and selective university. The other was in the private sector, and the associate of someone I knew. Both times the in-person interview (with one other individual in the room) ended with: “Unfortunately, we don’t have any openings right now.” I was flabbergasted – well, why did we go through all this in the first place, in a colossal waste of time for both of us? Are you a. lying, b. going through the motions because there is an internal candidate and you want to say you made some effort to review others, or c. you just don’t have another answer that would be legally challenged or d. want to even bother responding later or stringing people along?

    Anyway, I’m really sorry that occurred, and I would absolutely go onto Glassdoor under the Interview section and post about your experience.

    1. The Strand*

      As far as the university, it was almost certainly b, in my experience.

      I went in for an interview at a startup about 20 years ago, when they quite obviously wanted to squeeze as much knowledge/ideas out of me – for free – as they could. There wasn’t Glassdoor then, but there is now.

  17. The Strand*

    An idea: They are fishing to see if one of their existing employees takes a bite (they just want to know who might jump ship). No real plans to hire, but they found your resume interesting. Also crappy if it’s a non-starter.

    1. I'm the OP*

      They just hired an existing employee to the same position a few weeks before they contacted me for an interview. The person they hired is my friend, so I have some inside information.

      I actually heard my friend learned something new about the job today, and I’m waiting for a phone call from my friend about it soon. So stay tuned, it might get even more interesting.

  18. Heather*

    The same thing happened to me. Cover letter, resume, phone interview 1, phone interview 2, first panel interview, second panel interview, AND a writing test….only to be told they don’t have an open position, and I didn’t have enough experience. Funny thing is, two years later the hiring manager still looks at my LinkedIn profile from time to time.

    I think it’s always a good idea to ask during the interview about the history of the job you’ve applied for and who it reports to. I’ve found that if you can’t get a straight answer to either question, it’s definitely a red flag.

    1. Stevie Wonders*

      Did you ask why they interviewed you then? I’m curious how many ask this question and what responses they got. Because in this type of situation it seems like a very logical and legitimate question to ask.

  19. Meg Murry*

    I’m wondering if they are just fishing for what salary people would ask for in regards to the originally posted position.

    I could also see it being a (crappy) case of “well, we posted for a Senior XYZ. But everyone we interview for a Senior XYZ position wants too much money, out of our budget. So instead lets see if these same candidates will bite for a Junior XYZ position that pays way better”

    Could it be a case of “well, we’ve since decided to promote a person who is currently a Junior XYZ into that Senior XYZ position we posted instead, so now we have an opening for a Junior XYZ?” I’ve worked for companies where I was interviewed for a position and then told “well, that position went to an internal candidate, but now the internal person’s position is open if you want to interview for that”.

    I’ve also seen a company that has 300 people under the title of “Teapot Engineer” have a general posting online for Teapot Engineers, and they do phone screens for people they are interested in where they explain “we don’t have any specific openings right now for Teapot Engineers, but last year we hired X due to people moving around within our organization/expansion, so right now we are doing phone screens and if we have any open positions that match with what you tell us on this phone screen in the next few weeks/months we’ll call you.” But in that case it just called for a resume and cover letter, not filling out a cumbersome application.

    But the reposting is just odd. Although I think some people here have mentioned that some companies automatically pay to have their postings refreshed every X days as part of the online job board, to get their postings back up to the top, so maybe that is what happened here?

    Either way, I’m sorry OP, that this company is jerking you around like this.

    1. I'm the OP*

      They originally posted the salary as $53k – $60k on their website, and the hiring manager mentioned in the interview it started at 53. The salary is absent from the reposting, however. I know they hired an inside person at 53 a few weeks before they called me to interview.

      The position they wanted me to interview for was $40k – $42k a year ago, but I was told it would start at 44.

      I don’t necessarily know what to make of all of this, but I’ve been watching this company’s postings for a while, so I gave a good idea of what they pay.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        At this rate of decline, your first paycheck will be based on a $23K per year salary. I would not trust these people at all.

        I can’t wait to hear what your friend says.

  20. Hot Pink Squirrel*

    Before it was clarified that the lead was from an internal HR person I was thinking perhaps that the recruiter may have sent OP without being requested to by the company…in which case the job could really exist but they didn’t want a hire that would have a commission payment attached.

  21. knitchic79*

    Something like this happened to me at a government job many years ago. They talked to me for over an hour before saying they sure wished they were hiring. Sorry OP seriously sucks to waste that amount of time on nothing.

    1. Jellyfish*

      Agreed. I have a serious case of the ickies right now.
      OP: I’m not sure if there’s any way to ask this without throwing salt on your wounds, but could this be some bizarre attempt at identity theft? You mentioned a background check, which I assume involves handing over your social security number in addition to job history and where you’ve lived (for 10 years no less!). Or are background checks like this very common in your industry? In any case, I’m so sorry you went through this infuriating process; clearly the best wishes of the AAM readers are with you.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Background checks are common in this industry, as is fingerprinting. It’s required for adjuster licensing purposes.

        1. Jellyfish*

          Ahh. Thanks, Doriana. OP, I hope my question didn’t cause you any more upset. Best wishes. Surely the universe will send you good job karma very, very soon!

  22. baseballfan*

    I definitely think this is a bait and switch. It all seems too deliberate on their part and I don’t see any place there could have been a “miscommunication.”

    I may be experiencing something like this myself. I interviewed for a job two weeks ago at an accounting firm which was a posted position, and the first three people I talked to discussed the position in a normal sense a far as my experience, my long-term goals, their intent for the position, and such as that. Then the last person came in and after chatting with me for a bit, said that at the present time they don’t have a position for me and they are fully staffed . Ummm, what? I tend to think that guy is just out to lunch, because why would a firm take up the time of four busy partners during the height of tax season to interview someone for a position they don’t have?

    I couldn’t think of a way to challenge him on that on the spot, and I am still waiting to hear back from them. Not surprising considering the time of year, but I’m really curious to know if they actually intend to hire anyone. The job is still posted, for what that’s worth.

    1. M. H.*

      Hello, I honestly think your recruiter can’t be trusted, the employer is not to blame but the recruiter. After you interviewed, the recruiter probably tried to negotiate too much of a commission (and the employer backed out), or the recruiter made the job look like a highly paid one just to attract suitable candidates. The recruiter knew the job was not paying that much in the first place. Recruiters often say that a job pays for instance 25 dollar per hour, and then, when you are all ready to sign the contract, it only pays 19 dollar per hour. That is why your recruiter came up with a new position with the same firm.

      I would say: find another recruiter. Or apply for jobs yourself: the best person to sell you is you.

  23. I'm the OP*

    Disappointing UPDATE:

    A current employee at this company told me they had a meeting about the job posting, because some people were asking about me and it is pretty well known the employee and I are friends (sorry for the clunky wording; I’m trying to avoid gender-specific pronouns).

    The hiring manager basically said even though they have not considered an external candidate for this position in several years, the job requires more experience than most of the current employees have. He said there is not an available position right now, but he anticipates they will have a need for someone in the future, so he is creating a pool of potential candidates. If he finds someone he really likes, he will pass their information on to another manager over the position I mentioned earlier.

    He hasn’t interviewed anyone besides me yet, although the posting has been up for over a month. He said they will keep the posting up indefinitely for now. I guess they aren’t editing it, either.

    All of this is so unnecessarily ridiculous. I would have happily interviewed for this job if I had known what they are doing, as I’m a strong candidate and am not in a hurry to find a new job. But the way everything was handled is absurd.

    1. misspiggy*

      Bbut… his logic makes no sense. Why would any of the potential candidates be available at some unspecified much-later date?

      1. Alston*

        Especially any strong candidate he was interested in. And he can’t find people with enough experience in the company for this job, so they only people they find externally they’re shunting toward the lower level job? Good job hiring manager dude.

        And I hope you glassdoor them, they deserve it.

        1. Mary*

          Totally bananas, making you go through all the background checks, on-line applications and tests and then decide they are forming a pool of candidates to hire from. Do they not realise all the effort that is put into a job application at their company? Do they even care. And if they show they don’t care at the recruiting phase what are they actually like to work for. I really feel for you OP. This sounded like a job you wanted, could do, had the skills to do and would get you our of your current work situation and then they end up playing mind games with you.

    2. Slippy*

      Bait and switch. A sure sign is having another position quickly available for less; especially when the schedule for filling the position you were applying for seems to be between hell freezing over and the end of days.

  24. Cordelia Longfellow*

    That is ridiculous. I work in a government agency (outside the US), and hiring for my position does involve gathering a pool of candidates – there’s usually an annual exam, several interviews and security checks. Out of the last pool of 300 applicants, 8 qualified and were eventually hired. But the key difference is that the job postings are explicit about entering a pool as opposed to advertising actual current vacancies. The hiring manager in your situation is being totally dodgy.

  25. Q*

    I feel your pain. i had the same situation last year. Application, interview, testing, and then they say, oh we are just stacking possibilities in case a position opens up.

  26. I'm the OP*

    Oh boy, I just received a survey asking me to provide feedback about my recent candidate experience! And it’s not even for the position I applied for, but the other job. I literally just squealed with delight, because this whole situation is hysterically wrong.

      1. Trish*

        I had the same thing happen to me at a company I work for. The Director offers me a job that, by the way, he had already offered to someone else. He gets let go and the Sr. Director acts like she knows nothing about it. This is not true because I know for a fact that the Director sent her an email about it. My Manager was also in the room and included on the email. Just an FYI that this is a hospital.

    1. Bowserkitty*

      OOOH continue to keep us posted with this!! I’m amazed they sent for a feedback survey, that’s great.

  27. Bunny*

    This could be a bait-and-switch. It could also be a spectacularly dis0rganised company, or perhaps a small company that is relatively new at this?

    Just saying, because it makes me think of a job I applied for a few years ago. Long-term unemployed, desperate for work, willing to do anything to pay the bills, so I applied for a factory line job at a small-business confectionary. They called me up first to say that, based on my work history, I was overqualified for the position, but they were about to advertise for a newly opened PA/copywriting position and would I like to interview for it?

    Of course I said yes. In the end, I attended three separate interviews, about 3 weeks apart each. The final one of which involved me commuting to the company head office in London (NOT a short or cheap trip as trains in the UK are hideously overpriced and all other transport options into/out of London are equally expensive). At each interview stage I was given feedback by the person I’d be reporting to. She was delighted with me. The higher-ups loved me. The CEO I met in London was impressed and interested. I was competing against an ever-shrinking pool of candidates until I was one of 2 people up for the position. I’d hear back within a week.

    Two weeks later, I chased them up, and was informed that they decided to have an audit just before the hiring decision was finalised and realised they couldn’t actually find the budget for the new position, so it was dropped. And of course, by that time the factory vacancy had been filled for weeks.

  28. Anna*

    I had a similar thing happen to me, though on a smaller scale as I didn’t get to an in-person interview.

    There was a job posting on the company website that gave no indication of being a “potential future” opening, except when I looked back and noticed it said “future” as part of the URL name but said nothing of the sort anywhere in the actual copy. There are other posting they have that do actually say “future” in the copy of the job posting, so it’s odd.

    I got an email requesting a phone interview right away, and the recruiter even thanked for applying to that specific position. The more time I spent on the phone during the interview though, the more I became confused. The recruiter mentioned that she wanted to get a feel for what I was looking for in my next job, which I found odd because hello – I thought I had applied to a specific job so that’s what I was looking for. Finally at the very end when she asked if I had any questions and I asked about next steps she said something like “well we don’t have any positions open right now but I think you have a great background and I’ll talk to the team about possible openings”. At this point I’m so confused because I thought I’d applied to an actual job. She says next steps are for me to send writing samples, which I do, and that she’ll get back to me if they do in fact get an opening. I’ve followed up since – no opening or anything concrete.

    This kind of recruiting behavior is crazy to me. At least be completely upfront that there is no actual job open at this time.

  29. Lauren*

    Oh my goodness. I am in such a similar situation currently. I applied for an entry-level job in January. I received a call back late February asking if I would like to come in for an interview and I accepted. I have since had two additional interviews, including one with the managing director of the company.

    I received a call last week and she said that the director was very impressed and thinks I would be a great fit for the company but that she wasn’t able to give me an offer as she had some ‘housekeeping’ that needed to be done with the regional manager. She said I should hear back within two weeks. She made a point to say that they were not reinterviewing or anything.

    I’m a bit frustrated and disappointed as I would absolutely love this job. I’ve been in for three interviews at this point, and had multiple phone and email conversations for a job that may not exist.

    Fingers crossed I get an offer next week and everything works out!

  30. monzy*

    I had something similar happen to me. My friend worked for a company that was creating a new position in the company to assist a short handed department. (so she recommended me) I jumped through all the hoops, passed all the bells and whistles….then never heard a word back. I thought this is very odd, so I called my friend and ask her what was up. She said, I don’t know…& that I impressed everyone; and they told her that they were going to hire me. So I waited for another week thinking, maybe something came up; maybe HR was busy…but then I called the following Monday, and was told by the HR person…that they decide to cancel that position. I am unsure if I hadn’t called, that they would have ever called to let me know. My friend was po’d that they flat out lied to her. Job hunting sucks!

  31. CP*

    How about receiving a job offer via email, then being strung along for almost 4 weeks with lies and false promises to draft and email the official offer letter. All of this on top of getting constant delays with start dates. Then management got mad at me for following up on a weekly basis after they dropped the ball and continued lying about sending me the offer letter. I guess they felt as if I shouldn’t have questioned the constant red flags and delays in them getting me the offer letter, background checks, salary, job description, and employment type (1099/W2) etc. Everything was extremely vague, I really had no idea what the job entailed, and exactly what I was expected to do in this role, I was told it was a pharmacy data mapping/business analyst role. That is about all I was told. Every time I tried to ask questions and get concrete answers, I never got them. I kept being put off and no one followed back up with me and they refused to respond to emails so the only way I could get any responses was by making phone calls, which I felt were appropriate in this situation. They ended up putting the offer on hold indefinitely. I was furious at the childish games they were playing, angry, frustrated and inconvenienced. I have been unemployed dealing with an economic hardship and was really looking for this source of income to start. Shortly after I was emailed that the offer was on hold indefinitely, I reached out to the person that made me the offer only to find out the job never existed in the first place. The client they were hiring me to support wasn’t even a client, they never signed the contract with the company that made me an offer and I was never told that the client had not signed the contract. I was only informed that there was a delay in the client starting the roll out of the program, but was still given start dates so I figured all of the major steps in the process, including signing the contract, had been completed.

  32. Emily*

    A friend of mine went through this for WEEKS…the company in question (the parent company for a line of universities that rhymes with Tee-nix) interviewed him, asked him in for another interview, had him sit in for a few days to “get a feel for things”, showed him his OFFICE, and made him a tentative offer (they said they were talking to one more candidate). When all was said and done, after about three weeks of song-and-dance, they admitted that not only were there no open positions, there was a company-wide freeze on hiring because the company was having financial difficulty. It was unreal.

  33. Scott Levison*

    I had this stunt pulled on me about 20 years ago…company is called LRP Publications, based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.

    They had a “Job Fair/Open House” at their company. I went up with some resumes and applied for one of the open positions they had that I felt I was a fit for. I met and talked with several people who were impressed with my credentials and I was told to send samples of my work to them . I left feeling that the job was mine as soon as I sent in the materials they requested.

    The next morning, as I was getting ready to send out the work examples, the day’s mail came. In it was a rejection letter thanking me for my time but the job was no longer available (not filled, but “no longer available.”. Given the time frame, the rejection letter had to have been sent the instant I left the building. I went to the library and e-mailed them (the Internet was still fairly new and I didn’t have my own computer yet). I went back to the library a few hours later and found a reply ststiong that an open house was not a job fair (in spite of the fact I filled out an application and spoke to people). I replied, asking why then was i given an application to fill out and why did they want to see examples of my work? 20 yaesr later, i have yet to receive and answer.

    I later found out from other people who went thru the same thing that LRP just collects resumes to see how many people actually apply for positions that don’t actually exist. Seems to me that’s a bait-and-switch of sorts and yet LRP gets away with it.

  34. Crystal*

    This happened to me recently and I was devastated. It is intentional inflection of emotional distress as far as I am concerned.

  35. JohnB*

    I interviewed for role with a company, it was a role I had not done before, but something I was fully capable of, a senior engineering role. I had two interviews, both went well, they didn’t seem to know what job I was there for on the first interview, but at the end of the 2nd interview I was asked to wait for 10 minutes whilst the managers had a chat, this lead be to believe I was going to hear a yes or no right then and there, they come back and say they’ll let me know by Friday (2 days away). 8 days later I finally hear from their HR and get turned down, I was slightly annoyed by the wait but hey.

    3 weeks later I get a call from a recruitment agency looking to fill temp contract role that turns out to be at the same company, this role was the exact role i’d done previously, so I asked the agent to ensure they remembered me before putting me forward, he did this, but they said they wanted to see me, I asked him to make double sure, he did and I got an interview date. When I turned up I was instantly escorted from the premises my the manager, who said “sorry we got the wrong “, I looked confused and he said he thought I was there for the previous position, I told him which position I was there for and he said “still the wrong “, (I have quite a rare first name in this country and there are less than 3 people with my combination of first/last name).

    The original job is still being advertised 9 months later, the contract role was never advertised at all.

    Given the fact they don’t seem to invest is their manufacturing facility (they had literally no equipment less than 30 years old) and all their money seems to go on new BMW/Mercedes cars, a fancy office modern space and lots of pretty young girls working as managers assistants, I think they’re lacking experienced staff in certain key areas, I think they’re unwilling to hire experience staff and I think they’re basically interviewing people to pick their brains.

    The odd circumstances of this letter could be explained by a company interviewing people in order to pick their brains.

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