I have an on-site interview tomorrow. The recruiter who put me in contact with them called me today and "prepped" me by giving me the questions I was going to be asked tomorrow and what the solutions are (roughly).

I was completely taken aback by this blatant violation of fairness. Should I inform the company that this recruiter is "cheating"?

  • Another option -- give purposely wrong answers to any questions asked that were supplied by the recruiter. That way you don't gain any advantage, but still have a chance at the job if the questions are different. If you don't get the job, you can freely walk away from this recruiter. – mcknz Jan 10 '18 at 22:40
  • "Should I inform the company that this recruiter is "cheating"?" There are more ways this can backfire than there are possible positive outcomes. – pmf Jan 11 '18 at 7:09
  • See also How should I react when I'm given a problem I already know the answer to in a technical interview? In the current situation you might say "recruiter X mentioned you might ask this..." before proceding with your prepared answer. That way, you show your initiative (for coming prepared) as well as your ethical standards (informing them of your advance preparation). They can always come up with follow-up questions to test your knowledge. – Brandin Jan 11 '18 at 8:26

Should I inform the company that this recruiter is "cheating"?

This is really up to you, if this is against your ethical standards then by all means inform them about this situation.

In that case I would suggest you wait until you see the real questions you are given, to confirm if they are indeed the same ones as that recruiter gave you. Perhaps the recruiter was just giving you some clues on how the interview might go, and not necessarily the real questions to be used.

Again, you should think and decide if this is something you want to do (and given this new evidence, if this company is a place you want to work). The recruiter doing this probably means he is greatly interested in your profile, and wanted to make sure you got the job (not the best way to do it, though).

As far as we can tell, this could also be some sort of "test" to "measure" your ethical guidelines, so this seems to be a situation where you really have to be yourself and follow your ethical guidelines and your gut.

Edit: Seems that indeed the recruiter may have some ulterior motives for wanting to eagerly give you those questions and answers. Given this new light, you will still have to think this thoroughly (pondering your personal and ethical guidelines) to make up your mind to what you want now from this.

If you no longer wish to work there, but feel reluctant to tell about this situation, you can still go to the interview (and find out the truth so you can decide properly) and then politely decline any offer you may receive (for "personal reasons", "company culture", or the reason you prefer).

Anyways, it would be wise to start looking for other jobs elsewhere, just in case this doesn't work out well.

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    The questions were very specific. I also don't think it's a test. For one, the recruiter repeatedly emphasized not to tell the company. For another, I initially refused the "advice" but the recruiter plowed on anyway. – gardenhead Jan 10 '18 at 19:53
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    @gardenhead If you tell them you wont get the job. They will fire the recruiter, if they hire you they will have to pay him commission and there is no way they are going to do that. – Morons Jan 10 '18 at 20:37
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    @gardenhead yikes, sounds like chances are this may be indeed foul play from the recruiter's part. Even though, if you decide to tell, I would suggest you do in person when you attend for the interview on-site – DarkCygnus Jan 10 '18 at 20:37
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    @morons I don't think we can assume the OP won't get the job if he tells the interviewers what happened. You may not believe this, but some people are impressed by honesty and if the OP does a good interview and is qualified I don't think the honesty is necessarily going to hurt them. – StephenG Jan 11 '18 at 7:00
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    @morons if I got a candidate I liked through a fraudulent recruiter, i’d rather pay them their fee but never use them again, than refuse to pay on principle but lose the candidate – matt freake Jan 11 '18 at 21:41

Yes it's unethical. Yes it looks bad for the hiring company. Yes it IS bad for the recruiter.

However, stuff like this happens every day, all over the world. This is NOT an ethics test as has been suggested, the recruiter simply wants you to get the position. Clearly they want their commission, but you would not be in this situation were it otherwise. It may also be the case that you are the best person locally that they have found for the job.

From the hiring companies perspective though, for 95% of candidates, you and your recruiter are one. If they should lose trust in your recruiter for whatever reason then any potential candidates they have recommended will also be thrown out with them, that's you.

You have been given a leg up to win this position, if you want it, even though you did not ask for this help, yet here we are. Do you accept their help, but bend your moral compass and get the job or do you keep to your honor code and confess your part and shoot your career with this company squarely in the face?

Your answer will tell you how much you want the job. Either way will challenge your conscience, good luck

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How do you come out ahead here by disclosing to the company?

  • If they don't discipline the recruiter then you admit not your answers.
  • If they do discipline the recruiter then you are likely thrown out with the bath water.

In the future just don't use this recruiter if you think they are unethical.

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First of all, how did the recruiter got to know the possible questions even before the interview. That could be because of two reasons:

  1. The recruiter is sharing the experience of their previously recommended candidates(on which he/she got rejected or selected) and wants you to be fully prepared by gaining from the previous question and these might not be the exact questions just their previous experience.

  2. The client representative themselves might have shared them with your recruiter(for their commission from the recruiter), which surely seems unethical to me. Then its all up to you how you want to proceed further.

So, in both cases I would prefer to talk to somebody senior in the recruiter firm and see if they are aware of the situation(especially for the second case).

Now from the recruiter's benefits perspective, you getting through the client interview is beneficial for them and they might have been doing this for very long time, which hints that there is not much that you can expect even if you report the situation.

So to me it boils down to a personal level to decide how do I proceed for is its unethical.

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I would definitely tell the hiring manager.

There are few legitimate reasons why the recruiter would prep you with both the questions and answers for your interview.

  • Most positive interpretation, it could be a pre-arranged ethics test to gauge how ethical you are. In which case, you certainly want to alert them.

  • Most likely scenario, recruiters are often paid for each candidate the company hires through them and/or have hiring targets they have to meet. The recruiter is prepping their candidates to increase their hire rates (and thus income).

    The hiring team needs to know this because it is unethical and possibly illegal activity by the recruiter.

  • Worst case scenario, both the recruiter and hiring manager Have some incentive for hiring more candidates as opposed to the best/right candidates.

    You would have to decide whether or not you want to work for this kind of company.

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  • Seems that you reiterated several points I made in my answer. Thus, I agree with what you say, but I still suggest that OP waits to see if he was indeed given the answer and questions he will get on the real thing. If they turn out to be different, then we can conclude that the recruiter did this just to give some standard prep to the candidate, something that is probably done with any other candidate. If not, then again OP will have to decide if he wants to tell or not, and most importantly if he wants to work there. – DarkCygnus Jan 10 '18 at 18:52

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