In October, I had an interview for a data scientist position in France at a large company, where there was exactly one physical interview with the manager and another data scientist. It was a pretty basic interview-with no technical questions asked except going over my CV. The data scientist really liked my profile and told me that I'd be contacted in a few days. When I wasn't, I contacted the inhouse recruiter to which he emailed me that I wasn't selected.

Now in December, the same recruiter called me to tell me that they had an alternate offer for me. I was of course excited to hear more, but after that the several times I contacted the recruiter to discuss it, he postponed it to another date but never called me at the end. E.g. 5 days ago he said he was moving and would call me today, only not to call me.

I've got another offer from a startup, which I don't like much. But I let them (the recruiter, and the manager at this large company who interviewed me) know of the alternate offer, and also told them that if they no longer had the offer, they should tell me that. Still the recruiter is acting not serious at all, and it's getting quite frustrating. I wonder if I'm being played?

I'd also appreciate if you could let me know what my next steps would be under this circumstances.

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    are you presently employed? Jan 14, 2019 at 19:03
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    @RichardU No and they knew my situation while interviewing, still they're acting pretty reluctant. I even told them to tell me if they don't have the position, but they didn't-hence my frustration!
    – Mathmath
    Jan 14, 2019 at 19:10
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    then, take the offer on the table, then worry about moving up. Jan 14, 2019 at 19:23
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    @Mathmath Maybe it's just incompetence. Jan 15, 2019 at 14:21
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    @Mathmath - recruiters are hopeless, just forget about it. It means nothing. It's totally OK to phone and email him or her over and over, to see what's going on, so do that. But just "expect" that they will never answer you, or, suddenly hire you and not even realize how shoddy they were, etc. The problem here is you are one of our math-data brothers; hence you live in a rational, systematic world. You are not cycnical, wordly and practical. If you were a programmer you wouldn't even mention all this. You'd just say "oh another useless recruiter at some crap company" :) :) You know?
    – Fattie
    Jan 15, 2019 at 14:48

4 Answers 4


Since you are unemployed, take the offer on the table. A hard offer is better than a wishy-washy maybe. You are obviously not a priority to them.

You can worry about moving up once you have a job, but right now, having employment is better than a definite possibility of a firm maybe.

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    I guess it also depends on whether they already have a job or not. Jan 14, 2019 at 18:57
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    @Mathmath Are you currently working? If so, is the job you have right now better or worse than the job offer you have in hand? I see on your comment that you are not employed. In which case, Richard's answer can stand as is. Jan 14, 2019 at 19:11
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    Yes, @Mathmath, but a business would also not tell you if they are about to fire you in a month. Don’t confuse the company‘s problems (e.g. bus factor) with yours.
    – Roman
    Jan 15, 2019 at 13:21
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    You could be seen as a job hopper if you switch jobs within a few months all the time, but once probably wouldn't reflect that poorly, especially if you stay at your next job for a few years without issue. Jan 15, 2019 at 14:13
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    Just as Richard says, take the offer on the table and that's that. "Some emails from another company" mean nothing.
    – Fattie
    Jan 15, 2019 at 14:39

You aren't necessarily being played. How would the recruiter benefit by deliberately stringing you along? However some recruiters are simply careless and/or incompetent. If you need a job, I wouldn't rely on that recruiter.

  • @ Charles E grant: good point. But then how can one be so careless that this is the third time he told he'd call me, but then didn't. It's not that he's not pickng up the phoen when I try to follow up, but all he's saying is he'll call me on this future date (and last time he told me that he was moving). The group is a well-known group in France, so I wouldn't expect either playing me or beig this much careless.
    – Mathmath
    Jan 15, 2019 at 6:36
  • Charles, they most certainly do benefit by retaining your CV in their "talent pool".
    – Roman
    Jan 15, 2019 at 12:33

I asked this question. So this morning, I had closure on the subject. The recruiter called me and informed me that the new post that they were planning to offer was in fact with a different subsidiary of the parent company than the one I was interviewed for (this can very well be true as I know that I interviewed for a specific subsidirary). However, with some recent administrative changes to the parent company, the post doesn't exist anymore. However, he finds my profile interesting and will contact me should a relevant position arises. I think this ends the matter.


Recruiters are the sleazy insurance salespeople of the 21st century.


They exploit inefficiencies in the job market by acting as a apparently necessary and competent intermediary between firm and talent. They are neither.

To the firm, they want to seem like a skilled sniper in the war for talent. To the talent, they want to seem like a powerful partner in their dealings and negotiations with the firm. They are neither.

Instead, they people peddlers, job bait-and-switchers, a third party selling arms to both sides — no loyalty whatsoever.

Their business model: to seem to firms like only they have the best and brightest, the greatest talents, the raw diamonds. For that, they charge a hefty premium of up to 20% of a new recruit’s first year salary.

Also their business model: to seem to talent like only they can get you that awesome job at the big firm with the salary you dreamt of. For that, they want your CV to stuff it into their candidate pool and inflate its numbers.


Yes, it is a really hard job on their side, but you should trust recruiters like you would trust someone trying to sell you a „tailored insurance solution“. Or even better: like you would trust a used car salesperson. Inspect the offer, look under the hood, ask for paperwork.

Until you have something (meaning: an offer, in writing), you have nothing. Don’t neglect hard chances for a soft maybe.

Source: the multiple messages a week from all kinds of recruitment companies.

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