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Some time ago my current employee posted a job offer to find new team members. When I saw tasks description and requirements I was surprised and pissed of. I am in this project for nearly two years, so I know the nature of the work and tasks which I am doing myself and which are done by my teammates. I understand that the offer should be encouraging and my manager wants to build a team with strong competences, but what if 30% of the description is fake? especially I am thinking about fancy key words (machine learning, sensor fusion). In reality, my team is mostly doing maintenance and writing tests / fixing bugs. When I started working in this place I also believed in promises and I was fooled.

I would like to avoid similar situations in the future. How can I verify the potential project next time? What is the best way to find out false information and get the most realistic info about the project? What are your methods?

To better understand my situation I will add that I am working in Europe in a global company, which does not have its own product. (outsourcing)

PS: To all who are downvoting my question: 1.5 years ago I was applying for a junior position. Of course, I checked reviews about a potential employee and did the most obvious things, but everything depends on the project. (It was completely "new" project). During the interview, I asked a lot of questions, but now I understand that it was not sufficient.

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  • Since this job is obviously not your job, you could apply for it :-) (No, don't. But you could look for a job that is better than your current one). – gnasher729 Jan 3 '20 at 16:15
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Interviewing is a two way street. Your best bet is to ask a lot of well thought out questions that give you the data information you need.

  1. Make a prioritized list of all the stuff that's important to you: compensation, commute, culture, benefits, technology, work hours, growth paths (money, skills & career), business outlook, location(s), etc. That's different for each person and situation.
  2. Do your research up front: check linkedin, glassdoor, company website, google searches, ping your network etc.
  3. Make sure you have questions for each of the important topics on your list, ideally informed by your research.
  4. During the interview ask the questions. Be polite, friendly and collaborative but insistent. Ask for specific examples. Ask open ended questions (avoid yes/no questions)
  5. Follow up if needed. If the answers are evasive or fluffy, ask for clarification and specific examples. If you run out of time, follow up after the interview.
  6. Analyze the answer and the behavior and make your decision.

Most good companies will genuinely appreciate you for your homework & preparation. Some companies may take issue with that level of questioning but these are companies you probably don't want to work for anyway.

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    I like this one. Might be worth adding that the additional work, for example for step 2, may be done after the initial interview (so as to save your own time), because there's bound to be a second interview. Would also add that you should always ask to speak your to-be-colleagues, for example spend an afternoon peer-programming. That way you get to talk to them, see what/how they work and you find out if there's any truth to the advertisement. – rkeet Jan 3 '20 at 14:49
  • I agree with rkeet. Talking with your future colleagues (unsupervised) is key. If they don't leave you alone with your future colleagues, that's a red flag. And if they don't know what project you'll be working on, that's another red flag. And definitely ask open-ended questions like, "What does your workday typically look like?", "What did you do this week?", "What kind of machine learning do you use?", "Did you use up all your vacation days your first year?", "Where will I be sitting?", "Hindsight being 20/20, what questions would you have asked if you were in my place right now?" – Stephan Branczyk Jan 5 '20 at 0:53
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Make it clear that you want the role because of that technology, and ask questions about the technology in the interview, ask how they are using it, what they are hoping to achieve with that technology, how much time you’ll be spending using the technology day to day.

If they can give you clear and in-depth answers, then you at least know that they know something about the technology you’re interested in using.

If they give vague and short answers about the technology, then they are probably not using the technology you’re interested in.

I’d always want to speak to my team lead / manager during the interview process, if they aren’t part of the process, I’d ask to speak to them and I’d ask them the same questions.

It's not in the company’s best interests to lie about the role, a new started who joined specifically to work with a new technology, who then finds out they won’t be using that technology in their new role, is (in my opinion) likely to start looking for a new role immediately. If you can’t trust the company, to be honest about the job description, what can you trust them about?

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That would be glassdoors, linkedid and similar pages where you can find reviews.

Second thing is to ask for such thing during interviews. "Can you describe how the team is doing the machine learning?" "what type of sensor you are specializing in or in what fields/industries you are mostly participating?"

If you are interested in part of the job description ask "what would my typical day look like if I were responsible for the ballyhoo fadoodle?" "what is the typical lenght of a task for an employee and department".

Separating the grain from the chaff at the "reading offer" level require some knowledge about the industry and words used. For example if company is stating the use "waterfall/agile" development it give out that they don't use either. If a job description require to know Ruby and C++ and JS it may mean they have no specialization, they go for different jobs very quickly and thus cannot/don't want to focus on one technology.

Remember that there is a difference beetwen lie and polishing an offer. For examply it make no sense to fob potential candidate because they would want to leave as soon as they realize the trickery. You, as a company, would rather write in nice words how the maintenance is stable, uptiming, caring and so on.

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This happened to me a few years ago when I was interviewing at a company. I was familiar with the job title and description of the work being advertised, but I suspected the narrative was inflated and not accurate. During the interview, when they asked me if I "had any questions for them", I asked if I could interview some of the people on the team I would be working on. After I spoke with them, I found out that in reality, 80% of their time was spent on the phone or in the ticketing system (aka, they were actually help desk support roles) and not as technical as the job posting sounded. I politely let them know that I was looking for a more technical role, and the description didn't match up with the actual ground-level work.

On the flip side, when I have accepted jobs in the past that I found not to be accurate until after I started working there, I let my superiors know how I felt, and that I felt slightly tricked, and if they want to improve employee retention, they should update the job description, or include ground-level workers in the interview process. Doing all of these things will actually help the organization gather more relevant talent, and the employees will be happier, too.

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