was I asked to a fake interview by someone who was lonely or looking for dates?

A reader writes:

I was contacted on LinkedIn by someone at a very prestigious company, saying they were looking for someone with my skill set. I told him (let’s call him Andy) I was interested, and he set up an interview. But when I went in for the meeting, the other person who was supposed to attend never did, and Andy kept me there for over two hours, talking on and on about personal matters. Even then, it was not easy to bring the meeting to a close.

I’m pretty take-charge, so the first 30 minutes was me quizzing him out about the position and the company’s needs/resources, and also kind of showing off how well I’d done my homework. After that, I figured he would ask me more questions, but the discussion went off into the weeds. For example, I was really uncomfortable when he described one of his coworkers in a way that made him completely identifiable and stated they were planning to lay the guy off in September. (I’m not sure if he knows!) But 90% of the next 100 minutes or so was him just talking about himself. Hobbies, previous jobs, family, aspirations, brags. Lots of the last.

I wouldn’t say he hit on me as such, but it felt very much like he’d maneuvered me into a girlfriend experience, where I had to listen to him perkily and make impressed sounds. He also invaded my space a fair bit.

I also found out in the first 30 minutes that he has no hand in hiring. The hiring manager and the HR manager were the ones I’d actually have to interview with, and he made it sound like they still had no idea I existed—I was kind of taken aback by that. He said I’d have to re-submit a resumé plus a statement outlining why I wanted the position. I told him he’d have it by the end of next day.

I emailed it to him the next afternoon, along with a cover letter for the hiring manager. Three hours later, Andy emails with his mobile number and asking me if I “have a moment to talk.” I feel pretty good at this point, thinking the hiring manager wants to set up a proper interview. (This was a job I was more than qualified for and I’ve had others just like it; the question has always been about hammering out salary and so on.) But it was nothing like that.

The phone call was a bit creepy. He kept me on for half an hour though it was clear in the first 10 seconds that he didn’t actually have anything to tell me about my application, blurting out a question whenever I tried to wrap it up, going on and on about the company-sponsored event he’d be at that weekend and how I could just slip out and attend. (This is after I’d already told him I had to go to a wedding that same day.)

I finally wrote a polite note saying the hiring manager should contact me directly IF the company wants to schedule a second interview, and otherwise I didn’t need to hear back.

I haven’t heard from Andy since, but he’s viewed my LinkedIn page four or five times. He also added my phone number to his personal messaging app. Since nobody else from the company has looked at my profile since the interview date, I’m starting to think he never even told his boss or hiring manager about our “interview,” nor forwarded my resume to them. I’m annoyed and feel he wasted my time, and not entirely comfortable he has my home address.

I’ve gotten pretty good at nipping unwanted workplace flirting in the bud, so I feel like a dumbass, to be honest. Was it stupid of me not to have asked him for direct contact with the hiring managers from the start? What should I have done differently?

No, it absolutely wasn’t stupid of you. It’s reasonable to assume that when someone contacts you about a job opening at a legitimate company, they actually want to interview you for a job. That’s nearly always going to be the case, so you’re in no way at fault for not suspecting foul play.

In fact, you did everything right. You were polite and professional, but once it became apparent that Something Was Up, you set appropriate boundaries.

As for what Andy was up to … we may never know. Was he trolling for dates? Lonely and looking for company? Having a break with reality? Could he suspect you’re his long-lost sister and he wanted to get to know you before revealing the family relationship? (I am a sucker for separated-at-birth reunion stories, so I hope it is this.) Or could it even have been legitimate, but he just has no idea how to hire? That’s possible too, although there are so many suspicious details here that I’m skeptical.

If you want to pursue this, you could email the hiring manager directly, although there’s some risk to doing that. If this was legitimate, it would be too pushy to go around your contact and try to reach the person’s boss directly; it would be inappropriately circumventing their process. But if it wasn’t legitimate, referencing your previous interview with Andy could be a good way to get them to look into what the hell he’s doing.

On the other hand, you could also just reach out and ask. There’s some risk to this too, because if Andy is actually authorized to be doing what he’s doing, you could be harming any future chances you might have at this company. But it could potentially be very satisfying to call his manager and say something like, “This is awkward, but I had an uncomfortable experience with one of your employees and I’m trying to figure out what happened. I may have misinterpreted, but could you tell me if Andy Mulberry is supposed to be interviewing people for your X position? He invited me for an interview, but our interaction felt more personal than business and made me fairly uncomfortable, and I’m trying to make sense of it.”

But regardless of whether you do any follow-up or not, you were not dumb or naive here, and you should not have to be constantly on-guard against fake interviews from reputable companies.

{ 190 comments… read them below }

  1. Observer*

    That’s sounds like a fairly bizarre experience. I’m with Allison here. You weren’t dumb.

    I’d love to hear an update if you ever follow up with this.

    1. SophieChotek*

      +1. I want an update also.
      I agree with AAM here also; it sounds like you did everything right.

    2. Karo*

      Yeah, this may be the one question I’m most interested in an update on. I really desperately want to know this guy’s motives!

    3. Van Wilder*

      Updates! For our sake, please reach out to his manager! (But not if you’re worried about risking the job) but yes if you’re pretty sure he’s shady.

    4. Floral Laurel*

      Yes. This was super bizarre. I’m sorry that you had to experience Andy Creepy McGee’s “interview,” but in the moment you did not do anything wrong or dumb. Give us an update! Especially if he is your long-lost twin separated from a shipwreck, and you’ve been disguised as a man pretending to be him… (Sorry, I’m working on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and the separated-twin thing got me).

  2. Berry LaCroix*

    Grade A Creepster. Reach out if you want OP, but I’d just wipe my hands of this whole weirdness.

  3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Whoooooa, that is definitely bizarre! In your shoes, OP, I would definitely reach out to the manager. Even if Andy is supposed to be doing hiring, I think the manager would be very interested to know what a clusterf**k he is at it. I mean, no matter what, it looks bad for them. Your possible options are (a) this employee has gone completely off the rails, is trolling for dates via fake-interviewing candidates with no one at the company the wiser; (b) he was actually told to be handling interviews and is an absolute nincompoop at doing it, in which case they probably want to pull him off that duty, or (c) he was supposed to be sitting in on the interview and not conducting it but when the actual interviewer couldn’t make it, decided to go ahead and proceed as he thought best, which brings us back to (b) and his need to not be doing interviews because wow did he F that up.

    1. sam*

      Yes – even if this was legit, and this guy is responsible for interviews, he’s doing it VERY BADLY, and I would think that higher ups would want to know.

      Whether the OP is the appropriate person to alert them is a question, and the OP would need to know that they might be burning their bridges at this company one way or another (at the very least, clearly working with Andy is not really a good idea!), but that ship has almost definitely sailed anyway, so it still might be worth the heads up.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      +100

      The whole experience is so bizarre, I think OP would be doing herself a favor to check into it and at least make the hiring manager aware that Andy sucks at hiring. Or that he’s trolling for dates, which is SO creepy and unacceptable.

    3. Liana*

      I would 100% reach out to the manager or HR at this point. I am thoroughly creeped out by Andy’s behavior. And honestly, I see two main outcomes: either a) this is not a legitimate interview and Andy is trolling for dates (and going wildly past the boundaries of what’s appropriate), or b) this is a legitimate interview and someone needs to be aware that Andy is creeping out a potential candidate. OP, if you’re not particularly desperate for a job and are willing to have an awkward conversation, I’d definitely suggest reaching out.

      I’ve had a couple really unsettling experiences with guys who used work (or work-related issues) as a pretext to hit on me, and at this point I’m pretty solidly in the “Prevent creeps from doing this ever again” camp.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Ugh, this. He seems like the type of guy who gets people’s personal phone number from the employee list and uses it to send them personal messages, or the pizza delivery guys who send their customers dick pics after their shift, or the people who hit on waiters and coffee shop employees because they’re a captive audience.

        It’s a lack of understanding social boundaries – that even if you have access to someone’s personal contact information (or that person) for business reasons, you should not use that access for personal reasons unless directly invited to do so by that person.

        1. Natalie*

          In my experience it’s not that they don’t understand – they genuinely don’t care.

        2. Alix*

          Don’t give them excuses. Most of them do understand social boundaries just fine – they don’t pull this type of crap on other men when they want to hang out, for example, or when they know for sure it’ll land them in hot water at work (it’s a rare person who tries that kind of boundary-crossing with their boss, for example, if they know their boss actually has firing power). They hide behind the “I just don’t understand social boundaries!” excuse because too many people are willing to let that slide.

          There are, of course, exceptions, but they are generally rarer than commonly supposed.

      2. A Signer*

        Stories like this also convince me that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a burner phone solely for job searching next time I’m applying and interviewing.

    4. Shannon*

      I agree. Even if Andy is supposed to be doing interviews for that position, the way he is going about it will deter all but the naive, inappropriate or desperate from actually accepting that job. If that’s what the interview is like, I can’t imagine actually working there.

    5. Aurion*

      I came here to say this (with a lot more ?!?!?! and swear words at Andy’s behaviour) but you said it so much better. And calmer too.

      OP, I would definitely reach out to the hiring manager for all the reasons stated here.

    6. The Letter Writer*

      I never considered option C! He was pouring sweat the whole time, come to think of it. Sigh. It wasn’t so much an interview as being trapped next to a talker on a plane.

      1. Cáilín*

        If you haven’t already block his number on your phone so he can’t contact you and see when you are online etc.

    7. Lily in NYC*

      And who knows if they already have issues with him so they might really want to know. I think it was bizarre and creepy enough to warrant an email or call to the hiring manager.

    8. myswtghst*

      “Even if Andy is supposed to be doing hiring, I think the manager would be very interested to know what a clusterf**k he is at it. I mean, no matter what, it looks bad for them.”

      Definitely. And honestly, if you contact his manager / the hiring manager calmly and politely to explain the situation, and they’re put off by it, that might be a sign you don’t want to work there. If I was interviewing somewhere and one employee was intrusive and weird, I could get past it so long as it was clear I wasn’t the only one who thought so. But if the manager is supporting Andy’s inappropriate behavior (or just doesn’t want to hear about it), it would make it pretty obvious that I’d have to endure it if I took a job there.

  4. Tammy*

    Whether Andy was authorized to be interviewing for the position or not, if I was his manager I’d surely want to know that he was conducting himself in a way that made other people feel creepy. So I think I’d go with reaching out to the company – there is a certain element of risk, as Alison notes, but I think the risk is small enough to probably be worth it. I mean, if someone was going to have a negative view of me as a candidate because I said “this happened, and it was super creepy, and I wanted to check in about what was going on”, what are they going to be like to work for?

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      And if the manager doesn’t want to know or doesn’t believe you or feels like it was your fault for being female at the interview, it would be a good sign that you didn’t want to work there.

      1. Consulting Wife*

        +1000 just for the phrase: Your fault for being female at the interview.

        ARGH.If they take it the wrong way you’re better off anyway.

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      And if the manager does take you seriously, even if there wasn’t a real vacancy, there might well be one now!

      1. RVA Cat*

        At the very least, sympathetic co-worker might avoid the layoff in September when they unload Creepy Andy instead!

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Yeah, I’m having trouble imagining a negative response that wouldn’t put me off the company (or at least the position) anyway.

    1. A Bug!*

      Wouldn’t it be Andy and his friend (who happens to be OP’s roommate) who have a bank to rob? I’ll let your oversight slide this time, because it’s early in the day, but please be more mindful next time.

  5. BadPlanning*

    I don’t think you were dumb either, OP. Something crazy was going on and it wasn’t you.

    To propose a less creepy option, I wonder if he’s got his eye on some position in the company (either directly in hiring or staffing new pet project) and thought he’d accomplish that by finding an awesome new hire. Except he’s clearly terrible at hiring.

      1. Laura*

        That occurred to me as well. He thought he would find the perfect candidate and get a bonus or promotion out of it. I would still call HR. Employees that creep out random people online isn’t really a great image. If I was in management at the company, I would hate to think there are 4 or 6 women that had the same experience. Who know if this only happened to you?

    1. Ellie H.*

      While we’re all speculating here’s my theory: Andy somehow found her profile on LinkedIn and developed one of those weird Internet obsessive crushes you can get from social media about people you don’t know (a known phenomenon, which hopefully wears off before you act on it in a creepy way, although occasionally can result in marriage). He knows there is this job opening and is fantasizing about how cool it would be if she were to apply and get the job and they could get to know each other. And then tries to engineer this series of events to take place, having decided upon this particular strategy.

      Just throwing another idea into the mix!

  6. Snarkus Aurelius*

    You shouldn’t feel bad at all, OP, because our brains are wired to expect normal, non-creepy human behavior from one another.  When we don’t get that, our brains don’t know how to respond so we freeze up or try to act normal or bail.  You ever wonder why you only come up with a great comeback hours after someone insulted you?  That’s why.  You’re next expecting it, and you’re ill-prepared to respond because, hey, no one expects to get insulted at a party or groped on public transportation or interact with a close talker or get sexually harassed.

    Most importantly, you’re socialized to respond the way that you did because your behavior fulfilled expectations for a business-related interaction.  All of that works in your favor.

    That said, I’m going to be a bit more forceful than AAM.  You should definitely say something to HR/hiring manager/whoever isn’t this guy at this company.  I’m not saying you should rat him out because his inquiry could have been legit.   Your tone and message need to convey more of “Hey just so you know.”  The quote in the second to last paragraph was perfect.  Better yet, subtly act under the assumption this was Andy’s job so you don’t come off as angry or threatening.  

    Don’t rattle this employer’s cage; be a resource to them instead no matter what happens with this job.

    And PLEASE give us an update here!

    1. Leatherwings*

      +1. I really think you should say something, and I think this is the right way to think about it.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Yes, I agree. This guy is CONTINUING to keep an eye on the OP. This is past the point of chalking it up to a wacky interviewer.

        1. AstroDeco*

          When I read this question, my thought was that “company event” really meant “company-of-2 event.”
          This man’s actions need to be addressed and he might have contacted &or interviewed others. OP, please call the hiring manager as suggested and also block his calls. Do not engage him in any way, not even to tell him to please leave you alone.
          Also know that you were not at fault for not recognising things sooner.
          And if anyone ever does find oneself in such an awkward interview, then follow Alison’s advice regarding how to end the interview and leave. What I’m not clear on is if that were to occur and if the interview was in fact legitimate, what follow-up should a candidate do?

    3. Joseph*

      I don’t think it was innocent, but you’re exactly right that you should present it to the company as an innocent “FYI”.

      If you come in as anything other than coolly professional, they’ll likely dismiss your complaint as ridiculous. But if you come in as the smart, calm business professional you are, they’ll think it’s a potentially legitimate concern and treat it appropriately.

    4. Jennifer*

      We freeze up because we’re in danger and don’t know if we can get away with fleeing or if that will only make it worse to show that we’re in distress.

  7. Elizabeth West*

    Definitely creepy.
    I’d reach out with my concerns, especially since if it were me, I wouldn’t be planning on ever working there as long as Handy Andy is. Which is another reason they need to know–he could be scaring off really good candidates.

  8. Bend & Snap*

    I would definitely follow up. Even if he’s legit, you have no idea how he’ll be representing you to the hiring manager/HR, so it’s good to have a little control via firsthand impression.

  9. I'm Not Phyllis*

    Whoa – that definitely isn’t a normal interview process! You’re right to be skeeved out. I would follow up, mostly because if I was Andy’s manager/HR department, I would want to know that this was going on. I’d bet that he isn’t supposed to be doing the interviews (at least not alone) … but if he is supposed to be doing them he needs some serious coaching.

  10. Meemzi*

    If that isn’t an appropriate reason to circumvent their process, then what on earth is?

    Scenario: Andy is supposed to be shadowing the guy who couldn’t make it. In his nervousness, he monopolized the conversation and talked almost exclusively about his personal life. He has since been directed to further the hiring process but has no idea what he’s doing.

    Still weird. Still something I would hope a reasonable hiring manager would care about.

  11. Bowserkitty*

    Yiiiikes. If it were me I’d contact the hiring manager with verbage like Alison suggested. Add me to the list of those wanting an update on this.

  12. Joseph*

    Alison and a few commenters suggested that it’s possible that it’s completely innocent and he’s just terrible at interviewing/hiring, but I don’t think that’s remotely reasonable.

    *He added OP to his personal messaging app*. No matter what you think about his other ‘interviewing’ behavior (long non-work interview, calling about a company event, etc), you can’t explain away that one:
    1.) I cannot think of a single legitimate reason why you’d add an interviewee to a messaging app unprompted. He already has plenty of options for contact (email, calling, even just normal texting). So there’s no reason whatsoever to do so (or even to assume that she actually uses the messaging app regularly).
    2.) It’s not something that can happen accidentally. It’s one thing to accidentally lose control of the conversation and end up way more personal than you intended – it’s a bad way to interview, but some people really are just that talkative. But adding someone to a messaging app requires explicit effort to open the app and add them.

    I’d lean towards the “lonely hoping it develops into a date” scenario, personally. It’s a ridiculously absurd way to meet someone, but sadly, some guys make things way, way more difficult than they should be.

    1. neverjaunty*

      So much this. Dude has wasted hours of the OP’s life with this nonsense and is continuing to be a creep. Disliking conflict or wanting to give people the benefit of the doubt? Not really the thing in this situation.

    2. Leatherwings*

      I agree. Even if the messaging app is the primary way he communicates with people in his life, there’s no excuse for adding an applicant to it. It’s bizarre, unprofessional and too personal.

      I would wager that this isn’t the first time Andy has been too interested to women in professional settings and his company needs to know about it.

      1. Van Wilder*

        Exactly. I’m sure he’s trying to pull this dating scam on plenty of other women at the same time. The company should definitely know.

    3. Cambridge Comma*

      Some messaging apps add anyone you have put in your address book. Could be legit, although I personally wouldn’t be saving the phone number of everyone I interviewed to my phone.

      1. The Letter Writer*

        I thought about this too. However, the only phone call we had, I called him. So it seems like at the very least, he manually added me to his address book.

        I blocked him on the app.

      2. Chriama*

        Yeah, that’s not super alarming on it’s own. I’m thinking something like What’s App. Adding in the LinkedIn stalking and the multiple phone calls that are basically dead ends it feels like something weird is going on here and the personal messaging app is part of the overall creepy vibe, but it’s not inherently alarming on its own (maybe eyebrow raising, but I can think of legitimate – or at least not totally creepy – ways that could have come about).

        1. neverjaunty*

          But it doesn’t matter whether it would be super alarming ‘on its own’, because this isn’t ‘on its own’.
          Good for you for blocking him, OP.

  13. Crabby PM*

    You can block people on LinkedIn; I’d suggest doing that.

    I’d block his number on your phone as well.

    And I’d send a written letter. Think of how many other women he might do this to, who might be less assertive than you are. You would not be the first person to be contacted via LinkedIn by someone wanting to hook up.

    1. Michelenyc*

      +1 I just blocked 2 people on LinkedIn that I do not want knowing anything I am doing professionally. Definitely do this and your phone too of course.

  14. Leatherwings*

    On threads like these, people often mention The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker, which is a great book. The author would tell you to trust your instincts on this guy being a creep. If you’re concerned he knows your home address, listen to that and contact the company. Let their reaction inform any further actions you might take (like blocking him on LinkedIn?) Don’t let yourself rationalize it away! You weren’t being dumb either, your response was normal and professional.

    1. The Bimmer Guy*

      I’m not a woman, but it’s like my mother said: “I’d rather be alive and wrong than dead and right” when it comes to people who give you creepy vibes. Trust your instinct.

  15. ECB~*

    Yes, I have to add to the “Speak to someone about this” vote. He represented himself as an agent of that business, but the behavior was completely off base. If one of my employees were doing this, I would want to know.

    1. Seal*

      Agreed. I have conducted and participated many interviews over the course of my career and have NEVER wound up spending hours on end talking about someone’s personal matters. Something’s not right here – the company this weirdo works for needs to know what he’s doing.

  16. some1*

    Don’t forget to mention that he told you about that guy getting laid off in September – it sounds like that’s not the person you would be replacing so there was zero reason for him to tell you that.

  17. The Bimmer Guy*

    I say you have nothing to lose by contacting someone else at the company. Andy is a creep, and has probably done this to lots of other women. If he is in fact authorized to “interview” treat candidates this way, it’s a toxic environment. If they balk when you circumvent him, you’ll know that you don’t want to work there. On the other hand, if they are rightfully alarmed by Andy’s behavior, you might be able to bring your candidacy to someone who actually matters and is part of the actual hiring process (and who can behave professionally).

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      On the other hand, if they are rightfully alarmed by Andy’s behavior, you might be able to bring your candidacy to someone who actually matters and is part of the actual hiring process (and who can behave professionally).

      Yes, this is a good point. On the likelihood that this is a legitimate job opening and Andy just creepered up the hiring process, reaching out like this could potentially get your candidacy actually on track.

  18. animaniactoo*

    I think another route you could take is to reach out to HR even more generically. “Hi, I recently had an interview for your company with Andy Mulberry, and based on the followup directions I was given, I am somewhat confused about what his role in the hiring process is. Can you please clarify his role and the interview steps for me?”

    So now you’re not looking to find out whether he’s *supposed* to be interviewing people, you’re just asking for clarification about how their process works. That you also happen to be letting them know that Andy Mulberry is interviewing people if he wasn’t supposed to be is a side benefit to them…

    Based on their reply is when you can decide if and how to approach some sort of “Thank you for clarifying. I reached out to you directly because the interview and followup made me fairly uncomfortable and I can explain in more detail if you would like, but the general overview is that it felt like the focus was personal rather than business.”

    1. Rae*

      This is my favorite suggestion so far and what I was trying to put into words. Either way you should contact someone legit in the company.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hmmm, I don’t know if I’d go that route. There’s a decent chance HR will ignore the initial message (because many HR depts ignore follow-ups and this one could be read as a candidate asking a weird question that isn’t especially relevant). I think if you’re going to reach out, start with the real message.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Maybe, but if the primary goal is to alert them that this guy is interviewing people when he’s not supposed to be, while looking slightly oddball but not necessarily torpedoing your candidacy if he is, I think it serves both purposes. I think it’s unlikely that they’re going to overlook that “Andy Mulberry” is who interviewed if they know that interviews always go through their dept and he’s not in it.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Except that in a big company, HR may have no idea. Or it’s possible he was supposed to be involved in interviews but not managing them, or a bunch of other things that could muck this up. Just be straightforward!

          1. nerfmobile*

            Agreed. I’m in a big company and if you found the right person in HR about the right job, they would know who the hiring manager is. But they would have no idea who else might be involved in interviews for a position – which could be almost anybody. When I interviewed here, between individual and group interviews I probably met almost 20 people. No, in this case you’d need to communicate the whole story.

      2. Joseph*

        Agreed. In fact, it might actually be counter-productive.

        Pretty much everybody in HR has experienced candidates who won’t take rejection by the hiring manager and instead think they can short-circuit the process by talking to HR directly. So an email which just asks for clarification on the process is going to come across as OP being just another candidate trying to sneak in. So HR will either completely ignore the message (as AAM said) or reply with a form-email redirecting OP back to “the employee you’ve been talking to before” (i.e., Andy).

        If OP then tries to follow up with HR with the actual “Andy is a creep” message, HR has already pegged OP as a trouble-maker and very well might just wave it off as sour grapes from a disappointed applicant.

  19. AVP*

    This is a slight tangent and feel free to delete, but Alison, have you seen the documentary Twinsters? If not you must! It’s streaming on Netflix.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        As long as we’re recommending things for Alison to watch – I assume you’ve watched the TV show Switched at Birth? It’s a pretty terrible teen drama (which in no way stops me from thoroughly enjoying it), but if you like separated at birth stories, you might like it. :)

            1. Margali*

              Not real, but my daughter and I had a blast watching it together, and I’ve actually bought a bunch of the music that I first heard through that show. (Sorry for continuing OT, but Blue_eyes, do you know when it is due to return?)

  20. Rachael*

    It seems to me that this guy is trolling LinkedIn and picking women who he thinks is attractive and then faking that he has a job opening in order to go on “dates”. This is red flag behavior and the manager should definitely know that this guy is doing it. Why else would he check your page so much if he is not looking at your picture over and over?

  21. AnotherAlison*

    I could have explained away the initial interview. Maybe he was supposed to interview you with the hiring manager, but the hiring manager got called away and Andy was asked to stall. I had that happen a couple times. It never crossed into creepy territory, but the interviewer (Andy’s equiv) wasn’t really ready with questions, and eventually the conversation veered off because there are only so many work things to talk about at that stage when the interviewer isn’t prepared.

    But, the follow up doesn’t add up. Even if the above scenario were true, IME, the HM or HR has followed up. Not the random interviewer. (Or in one case, no one followed up, which was fun, too.)

  22. boop*

    Wait what? The fear of looking pushy is enough to keep someone from following up with this? The fact that it was unsolicited should give OP a little leeway here. It should be damn fair to send a polite email to the actual hiring staff asking if this is common practice, because it’s so weird.

    I mean, OP never even asked for this. Why is s/he the powerless one?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s not fear of looking pushy; it’s concern about doing something that normally is a disqualifier in hiring. I still think she could/should do it; she’d just need to be okay with the potential cost. (I’m not going to recommend someone do something that affect their future chances with the company without making sure they realize that’s a possibility.)

      1. neverjaunty*

        But that has to be weighed against the potential cost of not acting, which in this case, involves weird and creepy behavior by somebody who is continuing to try and follow the OP and/or stay in contact with her. It’s not just a matter of ‘how will this affect me with this company?’ with nothing on the other side. And given that the only person at this company who has shown the slightest suggestion of interest in hiring OP is Creepy Andy, there’s not a lot to lose by contacting them.

          1. neverjaunty*

            I don’t think anyone was disputing that it’s the OP’s call to act how she feels best?

  23. The Letter Writer*

    Hi, the OP here. I’m one of those people who’s never won so much as a workplace raffle, so it is supercool to get my question posted on AAM! After reading Alison’s answer and yours, I am starting to lean towards saying something. Problem: I don’t actually know the hiring manager’s full name or email address. I do know the HR manager’s name, and can make a few educated guesses at the address (but that feels like a bit much). I could send a LinkedIn request, and if it’s accepted, go from there. What do you think?

    A few more details that I thought might be TL;DR, but will include for your judgment:
    1) The job is no longer on their site, so it’s presumably filled,
    2) Andy initially gave me his personal email and messaging app ID after we set the date and time. I had to ask him for his work email and phone. I remember thinking, “This is weird, especially for a guy’s who’s not young.” So that’s part of the reason I feel like I screwed up. There were warning signs from the start.

    1. BuildMeUp*

      You did NOT screw up. This guy is a creep who took advantage of the hiring process and your interest in the “job” he was supposedly interviewing you for. Please, please do not let that stop you from telling someone about him.

      I don’t think making an educated guess at the hiring manager’s email address is too much – you’re not trying to circumvent the hiring process, you’re trying to alert them that one of their employees is behaving badly. I wouldn’t send a LinkedIn request, honestly – I would either email or call and ask to speak to the HR manager. It gives you the best chance of your message actually being heard.

      1. Grumpy*

        Agreed — a phone call is the best thing here IMHO. You’re doing the company a courtesy and if something else happens (ug) it won’t be the first time they’ve heard of creep-o’s behavior.

        A 16-year old girl disappeared in my city after leaving home to go to a “job interview” a few years ago and I remember seeing the grey vans with blacked out windows, and a group of grey men in grey suits loading coolers into those vans in the park a few months later when someone found her remains — which was really chilling and sobering.
        So maybe I’m biased.

    2. neverjaunty*

      OP – please understand that you are doing exactly what normal, nice people do, which is to give others the benefit of the doubt and assume that odd behavior is probably just a little odd, rather than a red flag. Creeps and con men exploit this basic social decency. Being professional and assuming people are behaving decently is not ‘screwing up’. Please don’t feel an iota of guilt for this dude’s bad behavior.

    3. Liana*

      You absolutely did not screw up. It is so, so easy to dismiss warning signs, especially when you’re in a situation where you’re trying to impress someone for a potential job opening. Regardless of whether Andy’s intentions are “innocent” or not (and I’m not particularly inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt), his actions are creeping you out and it should be addressed.

      I don’t know how big the company is or how big their HR department is, but if at all possible, I’d actually try and find the HR manager’s work number. Work emails can be tricky, especially if the person has a common name, but I think this is serious enough to warrant a friendly phone call. I think the language that Alison and others have suggested is perfect – just frame is as an FYI, and remain calm and professional. If you can’t find the specific phone number, a generic phone number would be a good start.

    4. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Something else that occurred to me — if absolutely nothing else, I have a feeling the company will be Very Interested that Andy is running his mouth about someone who is getting laid off. Most companies usually don’t like people taking it upon themselves to air that kind of dirty laundry.

    5. Observer*

      You didn’t do anything wrong here. But you DO want to mention this when you ask what’s going on. It’s a fact that underscores that, whether this guy is doing his own thing or is supposed to be involved in the hiring process, he is acting in a very unprofessional way and one that is not appropriate in normal hiring process.

      That he used his personal email address is actually not as flagrant a sign as it seems, because too many people still use their personal email for work stuff when they really shouldn’t. But, any sensible HR department is not going to like it anyway. In this context it just adds to the gravity of the problem.

    6. One of the Sarahs*

      Like others, I would call the HR manager rather than email, because I think it’s much easier to work with nuance etc over the phone than in email, so you’re less likely to be seen as trying to circumvent processes etc. And thirding everyone else who said “you did nothing wrong” here, of course!

  24. Student*

    I’m guessing that if you think about it, you really don’t want a job with Andy. He’s pushing boundaries at a job interview, where everyone should be on relatively good behavior – he’ll be even worse to work with daily.

    If you decide you don’t want the job, then you have nothing to lose by sending a message like AAM suggested to his boss.

  25. Ask a Manager* Post author

    So no one likes my long-lost sister theory? I’m disappointed; I feel there could be a whole movie there, possibly starring Sandra Bullock in an ill-fated comedy.

    1. Rae*

      I think if it was a long-lost sister/cousin/illegitimate/adopted/estranged relative there would just be better ways to go around it. Plus, asking for a resume with home address then brings up all sorts of other issues like potential stalking from people to whom the OP may want to have no contact with. For instance, while many adopted people find and have successful relationships with biological relatives, many do not have the desire, and this may include coming from both the adoptee and the family they were adopted from.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Sure, but when it comes to short stories… D: I once read this story about twins who had been separated at birth, literally. They had been conjoined with three legs, one that they shared and somehow, the operation was performed so that the one girl got to have both legs and was “perfect” except for a weird triangle-shaped scar on her hip. She was returned to her family, who I can’t remember if they were told the other one had died during the operation or they didn’t want her because she was “deformed”. When she grew up, she was, of course, kidnapped by her sister and the twisted doctor who performed the original operation because the other sister wanted her leg back. It was pretty messed up.

      1. AP*

        My family actually had a long-lost relative contact us (turns out my great-uncle was a bigamist!). We’re all friendly now and Skype together. So it does happen sometimes!

    2. Dog Typing*

      But then she’d just have a creepy long lost brother instead of a creepy linkedin troll on her hands. If forced to choose, I’d pick the latter.

    3. ThatLibraryChick*

      Didn’t Chris Pine star in a movie like this? I never saw it myself but I vaguely remember the trailer….I think Elizabeth Banks was the long lost sister there?

    4. LBK*

      Somewhat related: in Big Brother season 5, they managed to find two long-lost half-siblings and then put them in the house together as contestants, then had their mutual father write them letters about it that they received while living in the house. What better way to find out someone is actually related to you than while trapped in a house competing against them for $500k? It was bananas.

      1. animaniactoo*

        And then they went on to have no relationship after the show. That was definitely a nutty season.

        1. LBK*

          They didn’t even have much of a relationship during the show – he was the one that evicted her!

          1. Laura*

            They’re very lucky they didn’t fall in lust. That’s pretty common with reunited family members.

      2. Pwyll*

        Seeing as all the contestants make some kind of money for their participation: sign me up to be paid to meet my long lost family.

    5. Tomato Frog*

      You should’ve secretly edited the letter to include the line “He seemed strangely familiar, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.”

        1. (Another) B*

          Not really related and not a long lost sibling story, but remember the story in 2006 how those two college girls’ identities were switched after a car accident? The one died and the other lived but the opposite family thought it was their daughter? Then they discovered the girl in the hospital wasn’t who they thought it was? That story was fascinating (and sad too of course). Extra fascinating to me bc I actually look very similar to both of them. Could’ve happened to me (theoretically).

    6. AD*

      How about Sandra Bullock and Amy Schumer as “twins” separated at birth? Or like a remake of the Bette Midler/Lily Tomlin comedy “Big Business” (two mis-matched sets of twins). The possibilities are endless.

    7. Solidus Pilcrow*

      Speaking as someone who got blindsided by estranged family in an interview situation (cousin though, not sister), I have to day it IS NOT fun or necessarily a good thing.

        1. Solidus Pilcrow*

          The backstory is that my parents divorced shortly after I was born. My father remarried and I had not had any contact with him since I was about 6 years old (no visits, calls, or so much as a birthday card). Nor did I have any contact with anyone else on his side of the family, including his brothers and sister. One thing to keep note of is that I kept my father’s rather distinctive ethnic last name.

          Fast forward 30+ years (in my mid-40s now). In the intervening time I’ve graduated college and moved from my small rural home town to a large city in the opposite corner of the state and started a career. I got laid off last year and I was in the job market and getting interviews.

          I go to an interview with the person who would be the direct manager for the position. That goes well. He then introduces me to his boss, the department manager. Wouldn’t you know, practically the first thing the department manager says after introductions is that she recognized my distinctive last name and asks if I’m from a certain small town and if I may be related to those *Pilcrows*? Turns out she’s a first cousin from one of my father’s brothers. I had no warning. She had married and taken her husband’s name. Even if she still went by *Pilcrow*, interviewing with her wasn’t mentioned in the contact info; only the direct manager was named.

          The interview quickly derailed by her starting to go into a bunch of TMI family drama, like her father having liver cancer and getting a transplant, her grandmother having hep-C, and so forth. Did I mention the direct manager was in the room during all this? Yeah, he got an earful. On my part, I was completely flat-footed and gaping like a fish as family revelations were last on my list of things expected to happen in an interview (maybe just above a meteor hitting the parking lot). Oh, how awkward to have to admit, “Yeah, I never heard of you.”

          I didn’t get the job (and probably a good thing given her unprofessionalism). They never said it directly, but I’m sure avoiding the appearance of nepotism was a factor as well as my pretty much falling out of interview mentality once the circus got going. Now I have to wonder if part of the reason I got the interview in the first place was the department manager’s curiosity on whether I was related or not.

          The upshot is family revelations in an interview are a waste of everyone’s time, especially the poor direct manager who got a front seat to 15+ minutes of family drama. Considering she never contacted me after that, it was probably a waste of her time as well. At least I got some practice interviewing and a weird story to tell!

          1. LBK*

            That is totally bizarre. I wouldn’t even know how to handle that – are you supposed to just say “Weird! Guess I’ll see you at the family reunion” and then move on to discussing your resume?

    8. Liana*

      Honestly, I think Anna Kendrick would make this into a great movie. Or possibly Kristen Wiig/Molly McCarthy? They were great together in Ghostbusters.

        1. Bowserkitty*

          I like the one about the adopted twins – one girl is an actress living in LA and a girl in France had her friends send her some Youtube videos of the actress because she looks just like her. Turns out, they were separated at birth and the adoption agencies didn’t have it recorded.

          It’s on Netflix as Twinsters – if anyone is interested, look it up!!

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Loved this piece when I read it a while back. Amazing the twists and turns that life can take!

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        I guess with the magic of The Internets and DNA, it’s now easier than ever to figure things like this out. Seems to happen a fair bit with adoptions from China.

        https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2012/03/03/identical_twins_adopted_from_china_by_two_different_ontario_families_grow_up_400_km_apart.html

        http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/films/twin-sisters/

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2399360/Chinese-twins-separated-birth-adopted-2-American-families-reunited.html

        1. Jayn*

          I think the most interesting story I heard was of boy/girl twins who didn’t find out they were related until after they had married each other.

    9. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Admission (with Tina Fey) has roughly this plot. A college admissions officer believes an applicant is the son she gave away for adoption 18 years ago, and shenanigans ensue.

      1. LBK*

        Huh, I had no idea that was the plot of that movie. They did a terrible job advertising it, that sounds a lot more interesting than the generic romcom that it seemed like.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          I know! I felt a little spoiler-y posting that, because they didn’t promote that storyline at all.

    10. Christina*

      A friend of mine found her dog’s sibling at the dog park 2 states away from where each person originally adopted their dog.

    11. One of the Sarahs*

      My partner’s adopted, and we have a long-running kind-of-joke that someone’s going to turn up on the doorstep one day wanting one of her kidneys for a birth-family member, based on how adoption works in soap operas…

  26. Christine*

    I would suggest contacting the HR department. Would you really want to work with that man if the job was legit. Please let us all know what route you decide to take & the response you receive from HR if it wasn’t legit. They may not admit to “not knowing” on, but you should be able to read their response in their tone of voice, what’s said and how. This is one where I would recommend calling HR and inquire about said position that you interviewed for. Ask if they have a “so – so” position open, and if they do who is the hiring manager. It’s possible that a position might be open, but he’s not the hiring manager and using it as way to seek personnel contacts of a more personal nature. Trust your instincts.

  27. Anon - Spidey Senses Tingle*

    You are not alone here, and did nothing wrong. I had a very similar experience that I posted about on a Friday open thread a few weeks ago. Mine was by a cardinal rabbi at a members-only conference from a specific professional license in my state. It’s creepy that this happens, but don’t beat yourself up over it. Responding to professional job interests does not – and never should – open a person up to unwanted personal advances. This person was wrong, and not you.

  28. AppomattoxCourtHouse*

    The situation Alison is hoping for was the plot line on an episode of The George Lopez show.

  29. Jerry Vandesic*

    Send an email to the other person you were supposed to meet with, saying you are sorry that you weren’t able to meet and to let you know if they would like to set up an interview for another time. If they respond that they don’t know what you are talking about, then that tells you something.

    1. KA*

      Such an email could easily get ignored. Then there wouldn’t be any clarification on either side.

  30. Jenn*

    I think that the letter-writer should contact someone else at the company directly if for no other reason than the interviewer set off internal alarms. Invading personal space? Pushing to attend an event when clearly told of inavailability? These are things HR should want to know. And if that blacklists you from the job for being “too pushy” or whatever, then you do not want to touch the company with a 10-foot-pole because how are they going to handle it if you happen to have a harassment complaint as an employee?

  31. Chriama*

    I get being weirded out by the thought that this creepster has your home phone, and for that reason alone I would reach out to the hiring manager to make sure someone knows what’s going on. However, if it turns out this guy is *not* involved with the interview process, what do people recommend the OP do? Talk to HR? Follow up with the hiring manager?

  32. Lizabeth*

    Depending on “how” the company responds, I’d be temped to write it up on Glass Door.

  33. Rusty Shackelford*

    He said I’d have to re-submit a resumé plus a statement outlining why I wanted the position. I told him he’d have it by the end of next day.

    Would it be stretching the bounds of believability if you went ahead and sent this to HR, with a note saying “When Andy Mulberry interviewed me for this position, he said I’d need to send a copy of this to you?” I know you’ve already sent this to him, but (a) if he’s legit, you probably don’t want to work for him anyway but it won’t necessarily brand you as a rule unfollower with HR in case other positions come up, and (b) if he’s not legit, it’s a way of outing him to HR while looking like you’re simply following instructions.

  34. Rika*

    Just when I think I’ve heard them all…
    Well handled, OP. You’re most definitely not a dumbass.

  35. Christine D*

    With a few details changed, I could have written this post! The same thing happened to me, and I was creeped out sufficiently. I had just graduated college and didn’t the norms for professional jobs (I had worked waitresses and as a health aide in college) so at first I thought things were going oddly but wasn’t sure if it was just me. Met Andy at his place of work (a very well-known large business) but the “hiring manager” couldn’t make it and Andy suggested we go to dinner to discuss the position further. After 2 hours of him talking about his personal life non-stop I knew something was up. He asked to meet me again the next weekend for dinner and didn’t even mention the job. I told him no. He called me repeatedly for weeks after and I never returned his calls.

    10 years later and I wish I would have called his company to rat him out. I know now he was just a creep preying on a young girl.

  36. Cafe au Lait*

    Alison! Alison! Have you watched Twinster yet? (http://twinstersmovie.com/our-story/#our-story-1). I love this documentary so much.

    It’s about twins who are separated at birth. One was adopted to a family in the US; the second twin adopted by a French family. A friend of Twin #2 watches a short film that stars Twin #1. (In the short, Twin #1 punches a guy in the dick; that’s why the short went viral).

    I don’t want to spoil it, but if you haven’t watch it, please go do so!

      1. Cafe au Lait*

        It’s a very lovely story about self, family, and falling in love. I think I’ll watch it again while sewing tonight. (Butterick B6054 in case anyone is curious).

      2. LADY LYANNA*

        It was definitely a great watch. I loved it. It made me cry happy tears, lol because it was just WAY TOO COOL.

  37. HR Caligula*

    I regularly follow this blog and comment section, occasionally post. The greatest value I receive is that my reality, both personal and career, is not the same as many others, this is a great educational tool.

    As a burly, bald, middle- aged man with a long career in commercial seafood industry I was/am insulated (ignorant?) of perceived risks, vulnerabilities, discomforts, sensitivities, etc of many others out there.

    That said, this guy has my hackles up. So many red flags raised I can’t theorize any chance of it being anything more than Linked-In trolling. I’ve professionally known a few guys over the years that were smart, dedicated, good managers, and for some reason (usually split/divorce) make some hugely terrible and unprofessional work/personal choices that completely goes against their past history and behaviors.

    OP, I hope you have the opportunity to speak to the actual hiring manager or HR.

  38. Michele*

    Maybe send screen shots of his contacting you via LinkedIn too. So that way it shows this guy reached out to.

  39. Merry and Bright*

    If I had an interview – genuine or fake – with a guy who behaved so weirdly during and after the meeting I would be really reluctant to have anything more with this employer (unless I was about to lose the roof over my head). Whatever this man’s thinking or motivation, he is seriously creepy. He may just be socially or awkward or unaware of good professional behaviour, but even if this is the case it would still make me feel seriously creeped out. I would be worried about sharing a workplace with him because he could be a) a really annoying coworker at best or b) a full-scale stalker at worst.

    If it turned out that there was a real job available and a real hiring manager contacted me about a genuine interview or follow-up, then I would mention that I had met Mr Weirdo (as per the advice above) but would politely make my apologies and flee.

    I’ve had lucky escapes from strange interviews in the past and, with hindsight, I am so glad.

  40. RWM*

    This is SO creepy and I’m with everyone who says to reach out to the hiring manager (love Alison’s suggested language) and also definitely would love an update!

  41. stevenz*

    Agree with other commenters. Report the guy to his manager, or to HR. Nothing he did was appropriate corporate behaviour, and if he’s using the company as a stalking horse for his dating life, they will want to know about it and put an end to it real fast. It’s a terrible abuse of trust.

    I don’t think there is any risk to you. In fact, I would expect the company to be appreciative of the tip. It may not mean they will think of you for a job (maybe Andy’s) but they will think well of you for identifying a problem they should know about it. And maybe they were already on to him but didn’t have him red-handed yet.

  42. Sarah*

    You definitely didn’t do anything wrong! Even though you noticed a few small warning signs early on, normal life experience would not lead you to think, “This guy must be scamming me with a fake interview so he can date me.” Because, who does that?? It sounds like you did everything right. Now you have a negative impression of his company, were creeped out by their employee, he has your contact info, and his company has no idea that he did all these creepy things. Even if he was authorized to interview people, there is just no way he was authorized to do what he did. The job has already been taken down, so you don’t really have much to lose by contacting his boss. If necessary, you could call them to find out his email address. Odds are you won’t ever find out the details of what happens with him, but at least you’ll hopefully get an apology and they will address this issue with their employee so that he doesn’t do this to other women.

  43. LADY LYANNA*

    I would reach out about it because you’ve already stated he has nothing to do with the hiring process and therefore, he is somehow abusing his position and in a really creepy way. What if he is a danger? If he has no say in the process then why is he doing this? It’s really really bizarre and I would think HR/the company would like to know about this. Period.

  44. The Letter Writer*

    Well guys—this gets weirder! I tried to get a hold of the HR manager Andy mentioned (verbally and in an email) by full name and NO ONE by that name works at the company.

    I then reached out to a recruiter friend and he cut me off after I gave him the brief outline. He was like, “That department is a zoo running on antidepressants {YES HE ACTUALLY SAID THIS}, we love it because we get to place a new person in the same role every 10 months {HE ALSO ACTUALLY SAID “WE LOVE IT”}. Also, you’ll never find anyone there who’s going to take responsibility for some rando perv.”

    So I guess I’ll just mention the incident to anyone in my line of work looking for intel and tell them to stay awaaaay from the company itself!

    I honestly feel better though, for the unanimous support. It’s kind of incredible that no one on this page thought I screwed up. That just lightens my heart. Nobody else around me is doing job search and it just feels…bad. You feel like you have to take responsibility for everything in the process or you’ll lose the will to keep going. But by taking ownership, I ended up feeling like I could have somehow avoided this situation. So thank you. Alison, you rock. Commenters, you rock.

    And you know what? At least I didn’t have to cook a meal for Andy and 19 of his friends!

    1. Aurion*

      Ooooooookay. Sounds like bullet dodged, definitely. Good luck on the job hunt!

      I’m side-eyeing your recruiter friend a little for his response though. I’m not very familiar with recruiting, and I can see the point that this particular company brings in a lot of business due to its revolving door nature, but…it’s weird to me that they can sell this company to job-seekers with a straight face knowing what a creepy, awful, perv-protecting place it is.

      1. junipergreen*

        Ack!!!! It DID get weirder! I hope you’re feeling a little bit better about the ordeal. The responsibility for this weirdness is squarely on Andy the Creep’s shoulders.

        Also sharing in Aurion’s side-eye for your recruiter friend. Any chance he could get you a real HR person’s name to contact so you can red-flag Andy the Creep?

      2. The Letter Writer*

        I live in a major city and the recruiters here are BAD. Most of them are really young, working on commission and have no idea what they’re doing. (One girl showed up to our meeting in terrycloth shorts and racerback tank.) The “we love it” guy is fairly typical. They really do treat us like commodities to sell.

        1. Stevie Wonders*

          No matter where they were located, I’ve yet to find a recruiter that was better than useless. Some were worse than useless. So I avoid them as much as possible.

    2. One of the Sarahs*

      WOW!!!! It gets weirder! But I’d definitely call HR and tell them anyway, because if someone’s impersonating their workplace (and findable on linkedin!) they really should know.

    3. The Letter Writer*

      OP again! Guys, I just want to clarify something: It was Andy’s HR Manager that turned out to be a phantom, not Andy himself. Andy himself definitely works there.

      What happened is that Andy told me “Drew Monnell [NOT THE ACTUAL NAME]” was the HR manager he’d be sending my application to. (He mentioned the name again in an email so I know I have it right.) But there’s no Drew Monnell at that company, not in HR or any other department.

      What it comes down to is, I know no (real) person at that company except Andy. “Drew Monnell” the HR manager apparently doesn’t exist, and the other two first names he mentioned are really common “Dave” type of names.

  45. OldAdmin*

    Please, please notify somebody real at that company that a creep is *impersonating* HR/interviewers!
    I would actually consider going to the police with your story and evidence of the fake interview and subsequent harassment, to be honest.

  46. Nathaniel*

    There is nothing overtly illegal about interviewing someone and then trying to be their friend. Given that no sexual comments were published here as being made, I would suggest simply assuming that you did not get the job. Then, simply move on.

Comments are closed.