A little over a week ago, I applied for a data science position with a company, not really expecting much to come of it. The next day, their recruiter emailed me to set up an interview, starting their message with "Dear Michael". My name isn't Michael, but I figured that mistakes happen and didn't think much of it.

I responded that I'd be glad to talk to them. I had a phone interview with them 3 days later. It lasted only about 15-20 minutes, and frankly, I didn't think it went terribly well. For instance, during the only strictly technical question asked, my response was "I don't know, I'd have to look that up."

This morning, the company emailed me to say that they were offering me the job. Six-figure salary, benefits, everything. Documents and emails used my name, no longer "Michael". From everything I can tell (Glassdoor, etc.) the company is legit and well-reviewed and well-liked by employees.

Still, I only applied 8 days ago, have only interacted with anyone from the company for about 15 minutes, and that was telephone-only. Every other data science interview I've had has involved a phone screen, technical exam, and in-person interview, usually taking at least two weeks or more. I'm beginning to think that the original "Dear Michael," combined with the weird suddenness of the offer, mean that this all could just be a big clerical error.

How would you approach the situation?

  • 2
    Welcome to the workplace. "Was I offered the job by mistake?" can be answered only by them. "How likely is that?" is not practically answerable, as it is doubtful anyone keeps such data. I have posted an answer to the question that is answerable here. :)
    – Masked Man
    Dec 23, 2016 at 4:35
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    Are YOU comfortable joining a company you've never visited? I'd want to at least see the inside of the building and talk to the people before signing an offer, regardless of whether the recruiter thinks the same.
    – Erik
    Dec 23, 2016 at 9:46
  • How would you approach the situation? is very broad and close to the off-topic "What should I do"? I suggest you edit your question and limit it to something like "How can I find out if this is a legitimate job offer?" (don't forget the title)
    – user8036
    Dec 23, 2016 at 9:48
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    When you talked to them on the phone did you ever clarify the name issue, e.g. "By the way, my name's not Michael."? What was the reaction? Does the latest correspondence now use your correct name?
    – Brandin
    Dec 23, 2016 at 13:17
  • 2
    @gnat: That doesn't even remotely look like a duplicate. Dec 23, 2016 at 15:30

3 Answers 3


How would you approach the situation?

I would call to thank them for making me an offer. At some point during the call, I would make that clarification.

By the way, in one of our earlier calls, I think you called me "Michael". I hope you did not call the wrong person by mistake.

Don't overthink this. They sent you the offer letter with your correct name, which means you are most certainly the intended recipient, and calling you "Michael" earlier was the mistake. This could happen easily if, for example, the caller misread the sheet containing the names and numbers of candidates.

Even if they did call the wrong person by mistake, I don't think they will go as far as withdrawing your offer simply because they called you instead of "Michael", and you turned out to be a good candidate.

  • Well said and formatted ,Just call them Verify the reason for wrong name in first mail.Make things clear,Don't be in any sort of dilemma.* And yes if possible do visit the company once. Dec 26, 2016 at 6:20

Six figure salaries are fantastic, but I think it's indicative of a serious problem if they're handing them out to people they've only spent 15 minutes vetting.

If that's the only interaction you've had with them, then there's been little time spent on either side of the conversation making sure you're the right fit for the job.

If I were you, I would approach the situation cautiously.

Find out as much information as you can about the workplace culture.

Who are you replacing, and why are they on their way out/left already?

I mention these things because what you've brought up already sounds like a serious red flag. You need to find the others for yourself.

If they hired you with little more than a 15 minute discussion, imagine how frustrated you might be to learn later on that all of your coworkers had similarly little review done when interviewers were assessing whether or not they were qualified for their position.

Of course, the seriousness of this will depend on the position being offered, but in general it is considered suspicious to receive a job offer right away, or 'too soon'. It could be indicative of an underlying problem within the company causing high turnover in the position, or the company having trouble keeping the position filled.


Be especially wary of anything they ask you to sign up front that may require you to pay them a fee if you're not there for a specific period of time.

In this kind of situation, there's a significant risk that it's not going to work out for one party, and you don't want to have any kind of reimbursement for relocating or other expenses looming over you, making it harder to decide to leave if you feel it's not working out.


We don't know how this all came to happen, and it is a bit strange. There are basically two possibilities: You ran into a company that is a bit disorganised, but for some reason they liked you during the interview and offered you a nice job. Or there is no such company, but someone is trying to scam people with the first part being a fake job offer (we also saw a case where the company exists, but has nothing at all to do with the job offers, and even warns people on their website from these scams).

You'll have to find out which one it is. The iron rule 1: No company will ever, ever ask you to pay out money when they are hiring you. The iron rule 2: A scammer will at some point ask you to pay out money when pretending to hire you. You'll find soon enough which one it is. The little confusion about the name is nothing to worry about.

  • If you're concerned that a job offer may be a scam, be careful about what information you're giving them. In the US, you need to give your employer your Social Security number (for tax reasons), and may need to supply a birth certificate (to confirm you're a US Citizen). That same information can be used for identity theft. If you are concerned, try to make sure you provide that info in person, at their office.
    – RDFozz
    Feb 28, 2018 at 18:01

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