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Ask HN: Are there some bad actors in Who is hiring?
73 points by WhosGhostin 18 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 73 comments
Candidates: HANG IN THERE. For those who are unemployed and have been for months, I suggest we create a separate post or move to a subreddit where we can do interviewing, resume and application reviews?

From my network of avid HN readers I get the sense that there are some bad actors in "Who is hiring". Candidates are desparate right now, there are some who are unemployed and have been for months, and some bad actors are taking advantange of and abusing their desperation.

Two companies that have been prolific on "Ask HN: Who is hiring?", posting every month for the last year have stood out where they are taking every candidate through the whole interview process as an exercise to train their current staff on interviewing with no actual intention of hiring candidates. Another company in particular are very thorough in their process requiring prerecorded video presentation of what the candidate has designed in the past, slides, two take homes and a "pair programming" exercise that's just a shared inbox - very minimal actual human interaction involved.

Has anyone had similar or shared experience like these?




I went through 8 interviews and a take home only to be told I had been the best performer, but they weren't hiring for that role anymore. I baited them, and they quickly admitted they were lying and they wouldn't give me any actual feedback. They proceeded to hire somebody a week or two later.


How did you bait them?


Feel free to name the company.


It's a very early stage non-YC, non-AI company that has raised a fair amount of VC money, and their very niche products have a small cult following on HN and elsewhere. That's probably all I can say without doxxing myself.


Most small companies hire based on who's friend of whom.

They don’t have spots for multiple hires?

Great hires are hard to find. Why not hire both?

It also cost money in time and effort for that much recruiting effort.

Sounds like management incompetence.


> Great hires are hard to find. Why not hire both? > It also cost money in time and effort for that much recruiting effort

Yes, Great hires are hard to find, and yes, it also cost money in time and effort for that much recruiting effort.

However, in the current market, great hires are getting easier to find and even if all the current team was doing was interviewing all day, every day (which is not the norm), the 1-3 months it takes to onboard an employee is the break even point.

Now when you notice that the current team does interviews an hour or so a day, unless a company was flush with cash (as MAANG was the last decade), hoarding candidates because they are hard to find, isn't capital efficient.

What's the solution? I propose increased transparency between candidates, so they can quickly figure out which companies are serious and which not.


> I propose increased transparency between candidates, so they can quickly figure out which companies are serious and which not.

I was considering a similar proposal, for holding recruiters, and the companies they represent, accountable for e.g. ghosting.

But I foresee a dilemma with this:

(1) To prevent abuse / lies / slander, we want to somehow tie reviews to the identities (or credentials) of the person reporting it.

(2) But given the legal risk that poses in many countries, few sane job seekers would provide such reviews. I.e., they'd be privatizing risk but for a common good.


> (1) To prevent abuse / lies / slander, we want to somehow tie reviews to the identities (or credentials) of the person reporting it.

Give it some more thought! There's a graph based solution that works equally well even if all participants (people providing feedback) are throwaway accounts with just one comment.


Have they been posting on "Who is hiring?" recently?


> They proceeded to hire somebody a week or two later.

Did you discuss salary at any time before the rejection?


Sucks. Sure do wish we had some sort of collective bargaining power to prevent this. Oh, but that one guy over there is really good at Leetcode, so never mind, every man for himself.


Sometimes I wonder if comments like this aren't meant seriously, but to paint particular groups as silly, to make their positions appear less serious.


Thanks for questioning my motives because of your pre-existing biases. But no, I'm actually disgusted with the state of this industry. But from this point on, feel free to wonder as you please.


How would that work since you're not part of the union until you're hired?


Idk, how would you work to alter the play field if you ran a union? I think I'd try to make it harder to compete with union members, and to improve the transparency and standardization of the industry's hiring practices. I'd even say that at least some industries ought to have entirely public-certified hiring norms for certain roles. Maybe that means setting up a standards board or union-linked oversight commission for it.


All the union shops I've heard of have at least a three month probationary period, possibly six, during which you're not part of the union and don't get any special job protections.

Also there are a ton of positions in various fields for which the organization already has someone in mind but still has to advertise the position and do interviews for various legal reasons.


There are countries with industry wide unions that provide the same levels of protection by just being part of that union.


While I'm not particularly pro union, it is not out of the question that a union representing existing employees might bargain for a requirement that all future candidates be union members


> Sure do wish we had some sort of collective bargaining power to prevent this

This feels a bit too extreme but I assume it comes from a place of pain and the effects of being exploited.

A less extreme solution could be increased transparency.

Here are some examples:

- Companies that post "remote" but it's "remote" only if you live 50 miles away from an office location.

They divulge this only in the offer. Why did they do the interview if they knew you were 200 miles away? To find out whether there's another hub worth opening where there are equally skilled candidates but cheaper

- Companies that post take home assignments to see if a problem they have solved can be solved in a more efficient or novel way. They don't intend to hire - they just don't want to share their current solution and also want to find out if there's a better way to solve their problem


I had one recently who revealed half an hour into the interview that there was “no cash compensation for the role”. Sure would’ve liked to see that written in the post.


> who revealed half an hour into the interview that there was “no cash compensation for the role”

This is actually a question on itself - HN afterall is a place for startups and "true" startups in the extremely early stages have little to no cash - what if they wanted a tech cofounder and gave you equal equity?

Or was it the case that you did need cash and wasn't in a situation to work off pure equity for a while?


"Who's hiring" usually implies becoming an employee, and employees are paid salary, even if combined with a promise of more. IIRC, there are separate posts for founders.


> IIRC, there are separate posts for founders

I wasn't aware! I searched a bit and didn't find one - would you mind sharing posts for founders please?


My bad, it was a few one-offs. Latest in July 2021: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27748680


> My bad, it was a few one-offs

Thanks! Wil keep an eye out for these in the future. I didn't even know this was a thing


Simply putting that in the post "seeking equity-only co-founder" or similar would probably be fine.


> what if they wanted a tech cofounder and gave you equal equity?

If you are looking for co-founders you state that upfront. It is basically asking for free work.


> I had one recently who revealed half an hour into the interview that there was “no cash compensation for the role”. Sure would’ve liked to see that written in the post.

You also made me think how first technical cofounders hedge against being taken for a ride even if they agree to no cash compensation for the role

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=39887642


> every month for the last year have stood out where they are taking every candidate through the whole interview process as an exercise to train their current staff on interviewing with no actual intention of hiring candidates

how do you know about their intention? Why they would waste time on their employees training if they don't want to hire anyone?


> Why they would waste time on their employees training if they don't want to hire anyone?

When the market is hot, it's hard to get applications from experienced candidates. During down markets like right now, there actually are experienced candidates open to interview at all, so you build skills on how to interview experienced candidates so you are ready when you really want to hire.


> Has anyone had similar or shared experience like these?

I hardly ever respond to those, but I did get a bad actor the time I commented on its companion monthly post, for people who were looking for work.

Some startup was scraping the HN post and putting up profiles for all the people on their own site, with the appearance that the people had put the profiles on the site themselves. I guess probably to bootstrap a user base.

(I like to imagine that they had investors who lost all their money on this team, as negative feedback for funding people with no intuition for ethical behavior. Our field certainly could use more such negative feedback.)


> Our field certainly could use more such negative feedback

Indeed and in part why I posted this


I view Who is Hiring as more of an advertising page than anything else.


long long ago one would write their own tools to do things. If one could write a generic tool for others to also use it was wonderful. With the internet it became more or less the default mostly because tools grew into bigger more useful things one couldn't just quickly write alone.

Posting job openings is just a posting. It seems a fun tool to develop out of it an interview process (or part of it) If you are a programmer everything should be examined as if a programming problem.

You do something or you don't do it. If you chose to do it you try to do it well. Access to a huge audience, unlimited programmers willing to work for free (on the tool). This doesn't sound like a very challenging service to build?

Asking money for job listings isn't strange. $2000 per listing seems a good price for how high profile the website is. Employees aren't cheap.

Applicants must be qualified, YC picks 1-5 applicants per listing. YC does supervised remote interviews. You basically take charge of the interview. If the applicant performs poorly or makes unreasonable demands he is replaced. If the employer makes unreasonable demands the opening is closed without a refund.

If the employer wants to fire the employee within 6 months a new interview between them is set up to examine where things failed or they won't be allowed to post a new listing. If the applicant lied about qualifications the new listing is free.


I have some very anecdotal experience.

I've inquired about some openings over the 14 or so years I've been around here- I think I had one good experience out of a few in terms of an interesting interaction. When I was looking for a new position I never got anywhere through HN. I've posted once (using a "work" account) and my post got downvoted and I don't think we got any applications, the post was real, in good faith, tried to adhere the best I can to the standards. I've stopped doing that.

I think initially (~14 years ago) when I saw this (Who is hiring) I thought- this is great. It's a community thing. But I think just like much of the Internet, things are not what they used to be, and the HN "community" while sometimes still comes through here and there is not really a thing (or maybe it used to be but isn't anymore).

EDIT: Worth noting I am in Canada so maybe if you're in SV you have a different sample.


Writing suggestions... First, lead your post with the problem, such as:

> Two companies that have been prolific on "Ask HN: Who is hiring?", posting every month for the last year have stood out where they are taking every candidate through the whole interview process as an exercise to train their current staff on interviewing with no actual intention of hiring candidates.

Also, elaborate on why this following one is a problem [edit: clarified which quote I was talking about], and how much you're speculating (e.g., suggests they aren't interested in hiring, and are building a corpus of ML training data, or content for some site, or content they can pass off as their own for scamming):

> Another company in particular are very thorough in their process requiring prerecorded video presentation of what the candidate has designed in the past, slides, two take homes and a "pair programming" exercise that's just a shared inbox - very minimal actual human interaction involved.

Then either ask for more information or suggest a solution.

Also, an HNer shouldn't phrase a headline as a question, since it's a local meme that the answer is "no".


> Also, elaborate on why this one is a problem, and how much you're speculating

Seriously?

"Why is it a problem that companies here are wasting candidates time and efforts in having them go through a whole recruitment process with zero intention of hiring any of the candidates?"

> suggest a solution

Moderators have no issue censuring and decoupling people's comments on threads that question company hiring processes - maybe they can show a similar effort in censuring companies that appear to be insincere in their effort and posts.


> maybe they can show a similar effort in censuring companies that appear to be insincere in their effort and posts

this is a great idea actually! Based off this feedback I'm thinking I post this on tomorrow's "Who is hiring?".

Is this going to be useful?:

METAPOST: I hope this helps candidates.

Employers: If you get overwhelmed with applications, please post an update or a followup that you are, so that candidates know you're not processing applications any longer. People take time to read your post, do research, apply: if all that effort is never going to be reciprocated, be kind and inform upfront.

Candidates: HANG IN THERE. Also, please help out other candidates and let us know how the company has/is treating you.

dang (and HN Mods), a request: I understand making comments about company behavior is against the spirit of "Ask HN: Who is hiring?", so we want your help. Not only a lot more candidates are applying right now but a lot more are unemployed and have been for months. So they are desperate and companies are taking advantage of and abusing their desperation. Is there a way other candidates can comment on companies that misbehave? Two companies that have been prolific on "Ask HN: Who is hiring?", posting every month for the last year have been identified where they take every candidate through the whole interview process as an exercise to train their current staff on interviewing with no actual intention of hiring candidates - where do we share this feedback?


The problem is, this became a behavior that is encouraged. Whether posting job ad is free or payed, a lot of companies do this to gain additional exposure, advertising themselves actually via job ad.

As an HR professional, I have seen this happening more and more. To add insult to the wound, most of those companies never respond to applications.

The whole point around it is that is cheaper to use job posting ad to advertise yourself than to pay real advertisement in form of banner or sponsored text ad. Most of those come minimum retention date, and are a lot more expensive.



The adage does not apply to questions that are more open-ended than strict yes–no questions.


You're being very defensive.

GP said

> Also, an HNer shouldn't phrase a headline as a question, since it's a local meme that the answer is "no".

Suggesting he didn't know it's more than a local meme. I have made no comment about your post here.


> You're being very defensive.

My response was a quote from the link they posted


> Also, an HNer shouldn't phrase a headline as a question, since it's a local meme that the answer is "no".

Is that the case here?

> First, lead your post with the problem

This is a great suggestion, but writing, like good engineering is context sensitive - a "good pattern" can have an exception.

For this post, I wanted to empathize with candidates most of who are having a terrible time right now and some being outright exploited. Which is why it begins the way it does.

> Also, elaborate on why this following one is a problem [edit: clarified which quote I was talking about], and how much you're speculating

This post is in part, to check my hypothesis that atleast one company is using the weak market to expose their staff to the process of interviewing experienced candidates - something that would be hard to do in a "hot" market where experienced candidates are hard to come by to interview.


I like your Spidey Sense for possible wrongdoing, and I guess there's a good chance you're on to something this time.

But I was confused why you were leading with a call to action of starting a subreddit, before you said why. What I think was the lede -- that there might be bad actors using fake interviews for training or other purposes -- was buried.

I happened to read further, but I think many readers wouldn't. Then towards the end, you're asking for more information, and the short-attention-span readers have forgotten your original call to action.


> Then towards the end, you're asking for more information, and the short-attention-span readers have forgotten your original call to action

This makes a lot of sense. I also Thank You for suggesting how I could have done better so I upvoted you as well - I made this comment because it might feel like I was disagreeing with you, but I was really challenging you with an alternate POV and clarifying my own thought process


Since your account is a throwaway, could you name these companies? I'd like to avoid them if possible


Why encourage defamation from throwaway accounts?

Reddit, for example, has shown us a pitfall of this. People seem to want to believe the "side" of the story they first heard, and take it up like it was the truth, sometimes almost militantly.

One mitigation, in face of a prevalence of poor critical thinking, (when evidence can't stand alone), is to at least require an accuser to stake some reputation behind it. Not use a throwaway/anonymous.

Related idea is the right to confront your accuser.


> Since your account is a throwaway, could you name these companies? I'd like to avoid them if possible

Not a throwaway. I did initially plan to name companies but I fear I would be banned if I did so. However, if others are noticing bad agents too, I would assume this is a problem that the HN mods would like to see addressed, making them more open to solutions that dont get me banned


Name and shame or get off of the pot.


> Has anyone had similar or shared experience like these?

Personally, I haven't encountered any bad actors. Aside from maybe 1-2 companies that seem to have evergreen postings on Who's Hiring.

If there are bad actors, I'm guessing they're so few in number that only a fraction of us will notice.


> Aside from maybe 1-2 companies that seem to have evergreen postings on Who's Hiring

How likely is it that these 2 companies are actually hiring?

If a company was really needing to hire constantly for a year and wasn't a consulting company, rapidly ramping up adhoc projects, the highest likelihood it seems to me is that the management is really bad and they suffer high churn where they are going through candidates like candy (or they fear they will loose people and are building a queue to tap into during attrition).


I'm sure there are some bad eggs. But jumping from that fact to a recommendation to use separate posts or changing platforms not only seems like an over-reaction... I don't see how it would solve the problem?


I assume you're responding to this part of my post?

> Candidates: HANG IN THERE. For those who are unemployed and have been for months, I suggest we create a separate post or move to a subreddit where we can do interviewing, resume and application reviews?

Using separate posts or changing platforms (subreddit) was for the candidates who are having a tough time getting hired and might need resume/interview reviews. This would be orthogonal to the "Who is hiring?" post themselves


A lot of companies are faking hiring right now for resume farming and the government is blatantly spinning or lying jobs numbers.

Unfortunately until interest rates drop, we won't see any improvement.


> A lot of companies are faking hiring right now for resume farming

Yes this does seem to be the case - but what's a good usecase for resume farming?

Are they trying to figure out if they are overpaying their current employees?


Looking for unicorn candidates at low prices basically. This happened a lot post 2008.

We just hired a guy as a senior PM who has an MBA, credentials out the @$$, and worked as a former executive. He took a massive pay cut (like 350k to 125k). His reason was, "I want to stop traveling so I can be close to my mom." However he moved apartments to a place closer to our office so I get the impression it was something else.


> However he moved apartments to a place closer to our office so I get the impression it was something else

Did he leave once markets improved?


He's still here so nope .


I once took a meeting with a "founder" from HN in the feedback widget space who was supposedly interviewing to hire a senior engineer role. He went through the motions but was only interested in information. There was no job. Beware meeting bullshit artists you don't know, move too fast, and don't have the right paperwork.


One thing I've noticed is that the admins are super ready to ghost/delete/dead people who respond to companies with harsh critique.

It's the similar way Ycombinator-sponsored crap has no commenting at all. A good portion of them are basically 'clone Uber and cut out bureaucracy illegally', 'we scan your eyeballs for shitcoin', and similar grift.... But you can never say anything about those.


Not that I'm not also bitter and jaded, but what made you think a VC-funded pg forum was going to be at all fair and open with stuff like this?


Cause people like dang have said exactly that.


> Cause people like dang have said exactly that.

True but I think they were being sarcastic with their post.


> One thing I've noticed is that the admins are super ready to ghost/delete/dead people who respond to companies with harsh critique.

Can you give any examples?

FWIW, I'm in favor of an unusually strong admin presence on that thread. It's been a good place for me to find jobs, and I don't want employers scared away from it.


When will we have sympathy for the people who have mortgages and families instead of the massive companies with millions or billions of dollars?


I've been unemployed for a year now. My desire to not chase away job-posters is quite self-centered.


> My desire to not chase away job-posters is quite self-centered

What if there is no job and the "job interview" is just a ruse to train their staff on interviewing?


Sometimes if they didn't hire one guy it doesn't mean they really don't hire anyone. Skill issue/sour grapes/personal incompatibility/etc.


I was unaware of the rule that you can't criticize companies and got a comment moderated away. The rules are written down somewhere, maybe on the top of the threads? Forgot exactly where


Middle of every "Who is hiring?" main post


> Can you give any examples

Yes, scroll to the very end of every recent "Who is hiring?" post and you will see dead and detached comments about how companies are misbehaving.




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