Nigeria has an unemployment problem. According to a report published by the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s unemployment rate was 27% in Q2 2020. This is the perfect situation for the rise of job scams, which a lot of people have actually fallen victim to. I thought it might be good to find some Nigerians who have been to fake job interviews and talk to them about their experiences.
A couple of people reached out to share their stories, and this is how it went.
In 2019, I got a DM on Instagram from a company, informing me that they had some open vacancies. I applied for the role of supervisor and sent in my CV. A few hours later, I got another DM and a text message from their representative, inviting me to an interview at an office in Ilupeju. I did little research and realised that a recruiting firm had an office there, so I thought it was legit.
I lied at work and took a day off. When I got there, I met four other people who had arrived before me. Before 10 am, the number had risen to 30. They took us in batches to their conference room to write an aptitude test. I guess I passed because I was directed to another room for the oral interview. My interviewer took interest immediately she saw my phone and MacBook. At the end of the interview, she told me to expect a call or text from them soon.
A few hours later, I got another text asking me to come in the following day. This time, they planted one of their people in the room where the candidates were. But everything he said was too good to be true. My suspicions were heightened when I met the director. First, her spoken English was off. Then, she asked for a ₦50k commitment fee.
The woman who showed interest in me the previous day was on my case to drop something, so I dropped ₦5k. They asked for a photocopy of my international passport and 2 passport photographs.
The next message I got from them told me that I’d been selected for the job, and the salary package was ₦400k per month. The text also stated that induction was the next step, and it included an address to a hotel in Ikeja. Something was off about the whole thing, so I searched for the woman’s name and their office address on Nairaland. The address was used by at least 20 fake companies. I realised that I’d been hoodwinked.
I decided to go to the bogus induction, so I took another day off at work, although my boss was irritated. When I got to the hotel, they asked us to order for Chapman, and I did.
I knew my money was gone, so I wasn’t shy to order food. By the time I left, I’d ordered three more glasses of Chapman and Chinese rice — everything was up to ₦20k. When they asked me to balance up my commitment fee, I told them I would need to use the ATM outside to withdraw the money and they sent a lady to go with me. I used an ATM card that had expired, and when it didn’t work, I told the lady that I would have to go into the bank. I had already ordered a ride, and I texted the driver to wait for me two buildings away from the hotel. Immediately I crossed to where my ride was, I got in told the driver to drive off.
It was 2018, and I’d just finished my service year. I got a text message to interview for a job I didn’t remember applying to. I thought I had nothing to lose, so on the day of the interview, I dressed up in my Sunday best and hopped on a bus. The location of the interview was Onipanu in Lagos, and it took ages to get to the venue. When I finally did, I met about 10 staff members waiting at the place to welcome us. I thought that was weird. I was directed to the interview room and met a couple of applicants there too.
Shortly after I arrived, the rigmarole started. First, we were given a test. Then they introduced the members of staff at the company and their successful boss. Alarm bells started ringing in my head and I realised that it was a job scam. Their boss noticed how uninterested I was and made a snide comment about Doubting Thomases. Anyway, they asked us to pay ₦20k to register with their company and stuff, and they asked whoever didn’t believe them to leave.
Five people, including me, made a room to leave. The boss stopped me and asked for the price of my phone and said I could have used the money to start a business. That did not stop me, but they weren’t ready to give up either. They sent someone to call me back. WhenI got back inside, they tried to convince me in their shitty office that they were legit and I was going to make lots of money. My patience had run out, and I insulted all of them before I ran out. I noticed that the boss was following me, so I walked faster to meet up with the people I left with earlier.
That was the last time something like this happened to me. I know how to spot fake interviews now.
This happened when I was in university and ASUU was on one of their strikes. I saw a job vacancy online and applied for it and got an invitation to interview. I should mention that I had only ₦2k on me, but I decided to show up for the interview. The venue was somewhere in Gbagada. Some guy came to pick me up at the gate and took me to this large open space that looked like a warehouse. From the gate, I could hear loud shouts and claps, which I thought was weird. That was the first red flag.
A large number of people were seated in the hall, but they were divided into groups. I would later find out that this was based on some hierarchy system. The newcomers like myself were put in a separate group and were addressed by one guy in a shirt and worn-out shoes. I’ve forgotten his name but he said he was a director at the company. He explained what they do and why we were there. After, he painted a story of how we would get rich in just three months, even though his dressing told another story. To prove the authenticity of his claims, he showed us a couple of magazines that depict the success stories of the pioneers. It was a long, arduous lecture.
After he was done — and this was where it got real — he said that to join their company, we had to pay a fee. I don’t remember the exact amount, but it was about ₦20k. But that’s not even all: after we pay, we would be paired with 10 people who would become our downlines and they would also have to bring 10 people each. That was it for me. I was tired, hungry and pissed. The guy who invited me wanted to know how much I was willing to pay on the spot. When I told him all I had on me was my transport fare and would trek home if I gave it to him, he said: “It’s going to be a part of your success story.”
Last year, I went job searching because schools were closed. A friend told me that his priest referred him to a home-schooling job and asked me to follow him. On the day we went to the job agency, there was heavy rain and I was soaked from head to toe. The traffic was also bad. I finally met up with my friend and we called the interviewer to send us the address of the interview venue. This was the first warning signal. It was supposed to be a teaching agency, so why wasn’t their office in a known business area. Why was it in a forgotten corner in Benin?
We got to the venue and found a big flood surrounding the building. One guy who looked like a skinny Quasimodo was waiting to guide us in. You should see him pointing to the flood as though he was Moses and asking us to wade through it. At first, I thought he was an office assistant. It turned out that he was the “boss” we spoke to on the phone.
The reality hit when we entered the building. It looked like an abandoned garage. Quasimodo gave us a seat and we got started. The first thing he asked us was if we knew what “era” was. He had a Bini accent, so I thought he was making reference to some Bini Idol or some traditional teaching method he thought I should know about to prove my worth as a home lesson teacher.
My friend and I were confused when he spelt out the word: “E-R-A”. My friend decided that he’d heard enough and stood up to leave. Quasimodo was riled up and told me I could leave if I wanted to. He was only trying to help us. I apologised and asked him to continue talking. Then he started talking about eras, times, and seasons.
Whenever I asked him to talk about the tutoring job, he would flare up and remind me of the favour he was doing me. I was so confused, like what’s the relationship between teaching and era? When he finished, he asked me if I wanted to know more about the job. I declined and stood up. On my way out, I met a woman talking to another lady about how opportunities must be seized and asking her to pay ₦15k for some job package. It was then I realised what Quasimodo was driving at.
By the way, the rain had gathered again when my friend and I were leaving. We asked Quasimodo if we could stay and wait out the rain. Oga didn’t agree oh. He asked us to leave immediately.
I got the mail inviting me to the interview in 2019. I didn’t even have to pay it any attention because I had a job. There were no details about the job in the email, but I was curious and open to other opportunities, so I decided to give it a try.
I met someone at the entrance of the venue who directed me to go upstairs. I met another person midway who directed me to the right floor. The whole thing looked like a sentry of sorts, and I was scared for a minute.
I eventually got to the waiting area and was told to fill a form. Then, the person attending to me directed me to a small hall. There were people seated in the hall, watching a presentation from a projector. They thought they’d come to a real interview too.
It was a long presentation, and everyone was getting agitated. The protocol officers didn’t help either, enforcing stupid rules like no side talks and preventing people from leaving. I already knew I’d wasted my time going there, but I wanted to see how it would end.
Finally, they introduced their product to us. It was access to joining a team that organises workshop for multinational companies, and network marketing. I didn’t even have a problem with that. The nail in the coffin came when it was time for the call to action. They said that to join their team, we had to pay at least ₦20k. A lot of people, including me, had heard enough and left. Some people actually joined and paid. I really hope that it turned out for them.