Chat & Video Messaging Interview Scams | How to Detect and Avoid Them

Advancements in technology have made it possible to conduct job interviews through various channels. In the past, interviews were only administered in-person and via telephone. Today, interviews are conducted in a variety of formats. As a result, it can be difficult to decipher legitimate interviews from those that should be avoided. Conducting interviews via chat and video messaging has become an increasingly popular method, but not always for the right reasons.

What Are Chat Interview Scams?

Chat interview scams involve getting job seekers to divulge personal information via chat under the guise of interviewing for a position with a company. Scammers posing as employers will contact a job seeker about interviewing for a role through technologies such as Google Hangout, Skype, Facetime, Yahoo Messenger, Facebook Messenger, or even by text message. During the interview, the job seeker is asked to provide a credit card number, account PIN, social security number, or other sensitive information. Once the job seeker gives this information, the “employer” on the other end of the chat misuses it and any hope of a job offer dissolves.

Charles Abell of the Small Business Administration (SBA) chronicled the growing issue surrounding chat interviews for fake jobs in his 2015 article. In this article, Abell includes text from a chat interview in which there are numerous typos and an over-eager interviewer encourages the job seeker to provide bank details. This is just one example of how quickly a chat interview can go wrong.

How to Confirm That a Company Is Legit

Conducting research on a company prior to doing an interview is critical. It ensures that you are prepared and well-informed about both the role and company. However, conducting research is also important for confirming that a company is legitimate. While doing research, note the company’s name – is it fake? Is it registered with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)? The BBB is devoted to providing consistent, reliable information about reputable organizations. If the company in question is reputable, it will likely be registered on this website.

Confirming a company’s legitimacy may be one click away. A Google search will yield helpful results, including whether other job seekers have been contacted by the company, where it is located and how to contact company representatives. Does the name sound familiar from a movie or TV show you recall? Scammers are not above creating fake companies (and company names) to execute fraudulent transactions, so verify the company name and its standing before committing to doing an interview.

You can also check to verify the interviewer’s email address domain and phone number against the website found for the employer in question. Question emails sent by personal accounts or inaccurate email addresses as well as calls from “1-800” numbers.

Legit companies want their employees to have some prior experience. Companies that include “No Experience Necessary” in the advertisement may not be as reputable. If an employer contacts you about interviewing for a role, but cannot clearly outline the duties, requirements, and qualifications associated with the role, they may be misleading you.

Chat and Video Messaging Interview Scams

Ultimately, it is important to remain open to new experiences in your job search because being more open may help you find opportunities that you would have otherwise missed. However, it is also vital to create professional boundaries, protect your interests, and shield yourself from scams that can compromise your finances, security, and peace of mind.

So…should you ever do a chat interview?

Only with extreme caution. Typically, most reputable employers will want to engage with you beyond a chat conversation to determine whether you will be a good fit for the company. Scammers, however, utilize the anonymity offered by chat interview. Chat is not the best channel for an interview because it may put you at risk for being scammed, but it also may not allow you the opportunity to truly showcase your skills and abilities for the employer to evaluate. You have a wealth of experience from which to draw upon and you should be afforded the opportunity to share that with the employer to have the best possible chance of securing the job. If an employer objects, you should heed caution and use your discretion.


Precautions to Take

Job searching can be challenging and time-consuming. After all, you’ve applied for dozens of jobs and have finally heard back from an employer that wants to interview you via chat. The thought of turning this down might be difficult, but it may also be the safest decision. Protect yourself from chat interview scams by doing ample research. The more you know about the companies that contact you about doing an interview, the better prepared you will be to tackle any red flags head-on.

You can also suggest an alternative interview method. After you have conducted research, if you find that the opportunity appears to be legit, propose that you and the employer interview via video or in-person. You can let the employer know that you are interested in the opportunity but would appreciate having the chance to showcase your skills and abilities in person.

Ask questions! Some people hesitate to ask questions prior to an interview out of fear that the employer will become annoyed and change their mind about conducting the interview. However, a reputable employer will get your questions answered sufficiently and may even understand that your questions are a demonstration of your keen interest in the role. In contrast, if you are dealing with a scammer on the other end of the chat, then questions will deter them from pursuing you. After all, scammers want to be able to obtain your personal information quickly and discreetly. Having to answer too many of your questions will hinder them from doing this, thus causing them to move on.

Ultimately, job searching is challenging enough without having to worry about being scammed into a chat interview. Luckily, with the information in this article in addition to a wealth of online resources, you can defend yourself against scammers.


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At ZipRecruiter, we care about our community and its safety. If you have encountered a suspicious job post, please let us know by clicking the “Report Job” link at the bottom of the posting, or email us to report any spam or fraudulent activity on the ZipRecruiter site at trustandsafety@ziprecruiter.com.

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Kaila Kea

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Kaila Kea is a career coach and former contributor to the ZipRecruiter blog. She is based in Hampton, Virginia.

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