Interview War Stories 4

The really scammy scam award

Sometimes, you just know it won’t work… don’t let desperation get to you.

I was a 19-year-old college student and looking for a marketing internship. I applied and interviewed for many roles but didn’t land a job. Out of desperation, I sent out numerous applications in a single afternoon. Needless to say, I hadn’t done enough research on each position to know what I was getting myself into.

After a couple of days, I received an email to interview at a marketing company. At first, I was excited, but after looking closer at the position I spotted a few red flags. The company didn’t have a website, or any online reviews, and I couldn’t find any indication about what they actually did. The position wasn’t clear either, all I remember is they wanted someone with “a passion for marketing, high energy and an entrepreneurial spirit.” I should’ve trusted my gut, but I held out hope that this might be legit, so I went to the interview.

I drove and parked outside of the company offices which were in the basement of a small building on a busy road. I make my way down to the basement where about 15 other people around my age sat in a lobby. They were all there for interviews.

An overly cheery woman at the front desk checked me in on her long list of interviewees. She spent the next ten minutes hyping up our group, asking us about our hopes and dreams and praising us for having more drive than our peers for looking for an internship. There were uncomfortable smiles all around as we watched people be ushered in and out of interview rooms, each lasting no longer than five minutes.

Then, it was my turn. The creepily happy woman walked me into an office. A man behind the table shook my hand and spent the next five minutes asking me the most cliche interview questions: “Why are manhole covers round?” and “How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?” He explained this position was an opportunity to “be my own boss” and “work my own hours.” I’d be working off commission so I’d have to be a go-getter in order to make connections and sales (and there was no limit in how much money I could make). The role? I’d be going door to door selling phone plan contracts for big-name telecommunication companies. This was no marketing internship.

I got out of there and blocked the company’s number from my phone. I’ve learned since that this company holds creepy pep rallies every week where they teach bizarre sales acronyms that you have to repeat and chant as a group. It acts a bit like a cult as it works you to the bone and makes you depend on the community.

My advice to other desperate college students like me: trust your gut and don’t go to sketchy interviews like this. I accepted an amazing (and legitimate) marketing internship a few weeks later.