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I recently saw two job postings from the same company on LinkedIn - one for a "Senior Data Engineer" and one for a "Senior Data Scientist." They had very different job descriptions, and I applied for the engineer position. They got back to me, and after a couple of a emails and a phone interview, I was invited to an onsite interview.

After a 1 hour long written test, there was a face 2 face meeting with two data scientists working there. The questions they asked were more into data science rather than about data engineering. Midway I stopped and asked them which role they were interviewing for. They said for a senior data scientist role.

I tried to tell them that wasn't what I was called onsite for. They said it was always a single role for "senior data scientist"

I had emails with the actual role title in the subject line.

The interview went okay but probably won't be getting the job.

  • What I want to know is should I clarify by contacting them via email or maybe LinkedIn?

  • I know it doesn't matter, but I spent a whole day traveling for this interview and travelled to their office.

  • How do avoid such scenarios in the future?

(PS : The company is an established small time consultancy with a good line of government clients)

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    "Senior Data Engineer" vs "Senior Data Scientist" - those two job titles are similar enough to be interchangeable. I don't know what you are so upset about. Did the job description in the posting not match what they asked you about? Why didn't the questions in the phone interview seem off too? I think you overreacted here. – David K Feb 21 at 21:02
  • No the responsibilities of both are very different and aren't similar at all. Even the job descriptions were different. Questions in the phone interview were oriented towards software engineering and data engineering . Both roles are different in terms of their responsibilities. I haven't reacted, I am thinking of reacting. – James Feb 21 at 21:09
  • So you saw different job postings for "Senior Data Engineer" and for "Senior Data Scientist"? Were you working through a recruiter or directly with the company? – David K Feb 21 at 21:12
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    Yes I saw two different posts for the two positions. I worked directly with the company – James Feb 21 at 21:13
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There is enough ambiguity between data scientist and data engineer that a company might conflate the two together into a single title, especially companies that don't have specialized data engineering roles. Or there is some disconnect between the two data scientists that interviewed you and the hiring manager. It's hard to tell what happened given only the information you have.

EDIT: Companies sometimes will use two or more different job descriptions with different job titles to recruit for the same role, because of difference in internal naming of roles and the external market or flexibility in the title of the position.

What I want to know is that should I clarify by contacting them via email or may be LinkedIn ?

Yes. Use email if you have it or use LinkedIn as a fallback. The best option is ask the recruiter or hiring manager that after the on-site you had a question about the role that you would like clarified. What will be the title of the position and what are the key responsibilities? Because the interviewers gave you different answers and you just wanted to confirm you understand the expectations of the role.

I know it doesn't matter, but I spend a whole day traveling for this interview and travelled to their office.

I wouldn't approach it from a "You wasted my time" point of view. Even if you were a good fit during the interview, you'll seem petty if it was just honest mistakes on their part.

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    I agree "You wasted my time" point of view was my initial emotional reaction. Thank you for pointing it out. – James Feb 21 at 21:21
  • The job descriptions are actually different, so is the responsibilities, so would it suffice If I reach out to the interviewer alone? – James Feb 21 at 21:31
  • @jcmack Great answer! OP has indicated in comments that there were actually two distinct job postings with different titles and descriptions, which might change some of your answer. – David K Feb 21 at 21:34
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    @James I would reach out to the recruiter, because they would know if there are two role or one role and which one you were being considered for. Then they could relay your questions about responsibilities to the hiring manager. Worst case it's one role and it's "Senior Data Scientist". If the responsibilities still seem like a "Data Engineer" role. I would negotiate for the "Data Engineer" title assuming the company wants to make you an offer. – jcmack Feb 21 at 21:35
  • I did reach out to the recruiter regarding this and after week or so, they replied saying they wouldn't be proceeding with the application. But failed to provide any clarity on the role. – James Mar 13 at 20:03
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Recruiting Company mistake no. 1:

Not only did they waste your time having you commute to their office for an interview that could have probably been held over any commercially available means of transferring data over the Internet, but they fail to inform you what the purpose of their written test is. I would assume if it had some definition of purpose, such as "WRITTEN TEST FOR DATA SCIENTIST", you might have had a chance to rectify their mistake.

Recruiting Company mistake no. 2:

Their internal evaluators failed to present their project and position they were interviewing for at the beginning. Thus giving you no chance to challenge their assumption that you were there for the Data Scientist job they were interviewing for.

Recruiting Company mistake no. 3:

Their internal evaluators failed to recognise the issue you were raising (that you are being interviewed for a position you did not apply for) and did not raise your concern further up the decision chain of their employer. This spells either lack of interest or competence from their side.

Recruiting Company mistake no. 4:

After that, they made another mistake in not giving you any feedback as to how the interview went and when you could expect some reply from them.

As a result, the entire interview process failed for you, wasted your time and left you with a lot of unanswered questions and you had to go to some obscure website and ask opinions from strangers. The fact that the hiring company considers nothing wrong with this is a big red flag for me.

No, this is not OK, as the other answer might have hinted. This is not an honest mistake, this is a chain of incompetence that resulted in you suffering loss of time and self-confidence, and probably money.

Yes, you can look at this as a positive experience if you are desperate or delusional, but it really is not. The hiring company you worked with is uninterested in you at best (or incompetent).

Should you contact them inquiring if they made a mistake? Maybe, if you need closure. Should you point out their mistakes and ask what the heck? Not worth the effort IMO.

It does matter that you spent a whole day travelling. To you at least. If you do decide to take another interview like this, ask the interviewing company for compensation. Whether they pay for your day off or your travel expenses + your day off is another matter. But you could ask. As far as this possible employer is concerned, you already accepted the interview without compensation for travel, so asking for it now is unlikely to receive a positive response.

If you want to avoid prospective employers wasting your time in the future, make sure they pay for it. Or at least compensate you in some way. If you want to avoid your interviewer asking you questions for another position, start talking as soon as you see a human face and tell them clearly, in their language of choice, what position you are interviewing for.

If you want to avoid being rejected for a position you never applied (or worse, being accepted for it), walk out when your interviewer tells you they aren't interviewing for what you applied.

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    They said there would reimburse the travel expenses, but considering the fact that they stop responding to my email after yesterday's meeting, there is a real possibility they might not. Thankfully I used the cheapest modes of travel. – James Feb 22 at 17:14
  • Honestly i did want to walk out after I saw the questions in the written test. What does solving riddles or puzzles tell about the fact that I can write maintainable code for production?! – James Feb 22 at 17:16
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    Well, that's psychological tests, lots of companies do so. – Matthieu Brucher Mar 4 at 11:27
  • Most companies led by insecure sociopaths you mean. – BoboDarph May 3 at 7:07

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