Odd job interview process. Is this some sort of scam?

I’ve apparently made it to “round 2” in the hiring process for a remote position as a web developer. Those of you who’ve been following my saga will know how important this could be for me. It’s a fully remote position and full time with flexible hours. Even the interviewing would be remote, by Skype. This would fit my current situation perfectly.

Maybe I’m being paranoid but the interviewing process seems odd and I’m concerned about it being a scam.

This is from an email I received (I’m blanking out identifying info).

The paid test seems unusual, especially the part about asking me for a quote to take the test.

I can imagine a scenario where they could send too much, ask me to send back the difference and then also reverse their PayPal payment. Is that possible with PayPal?

Is there some other scam scenario possible?

Maybe they just want to see how much you feel your time is worth, especially if this is a 1099 job. If that’s the case, it seems like a nice little perk, considering most people wouldn’t expect to be paid during the pre-hire process, especially if you get the money whether or not you’re hired.

Check their online reviews and/or facebook to see what other people are saying.
I’d suggest quoting them at your normal (or what you want) rate. So if it’s $100/hr, tell them you want $150-$175

Also, it can’t hurt to call them and ask them about this. You might get a better feeling by actually talking to someone.

As far as them overpaying on paypal. My suggestion is that if they were to do that, immediately send the money back and move on, but it doesn’t seem likely on paypal.

Immediately sending it back would be what they want if it’s a scam. Suppose I send a payment and they then reverse their payment?

Come to think of it if they could do that then I could reverse any payment I made to them.

I would definitely search on these guys and see what turns up. I found this page on PayPal that talks about spotting scams using their service. What you’re describing could fit, but I would recommend that you do more research before you decide.

ETA: the typos alone make me suspicious

Agree. This doesn’t sound right.

It does look odd, but I think the biggest risk is wasting your time. They are using what appear to be legitimate businesses, and using the services those businesses offer in the manner they are intended. The thing I would suggest is to not ever wire money to anyone out of your PayPal account. If they paid you fraudulently, the money will go in, and eventually go back out again, you only have trouble if you transferred the money away between those two events.

I will suggest this:
If you take the Test Dome test, they will pay a few bucks to the Test Dome people.
Web developers are, as a group, relatively web savvy, and are likely to be among the more difficult populations of people to trick with a common scam.
If you actually wind up taking a legitimate Test Dome test, what these scammers are doing is paying money to draw in marks who are unlikely to be scammed.
I consider this unlikely. Not impossible, but unlikely.

In the paypal scam link there’s an email address spoof@paypal.com where you can forward your email and they will investigate it for you.

I’m not sure it’s possible to ‘reverse’ a payment. That is, I don’t think you can take money out of someone’s paypal account without their permission or paypal stepping in. If they made some type of claim against you to get their money back, you’d have proof (your quote, their agreement to the amount and your completion of the test). If you sent them the money back, even as a separate transaction, you can tell paypal you’ve already refunding their money, that should settle the claim.

However, I don’t use paypal often enough to know all the ins and outs of it, that’s just what I’m quickly seeing on their page when I looked for ‘reversing a payment’ or ‘cancelling a payment’.

On the paypal link, it suggested that if they paid you with a stolen credit card, and the true owner filed a complaint, the payment may be reversed.

Do not send anyone money back because they “overpaid”.

At least, not without letting Pay Pal do the heavy lifting of investigating the original transaction.

That’s always going to be true. If someone comes into my store and pays me with a stolen credit card, the payment may be reversed in that case as well. Just like if you buy something (ie from craigslist) that turns out to be stolen, the original owner can possibly take it back, leaving you out the money.

Is that on the paypal site or are you saying it?
So, if the testing place agrees to pay the OP $150 and sends them $3000, what then?
The cashier’s check scam relied on a check that someone printed on their own. With paypal you’ve got legit bank accounts or credit cards (even if stolen, they’re still real) on both ends and paypal in the middle. All the money is easily tracked.

If there’s a way to decline the money, I suppose that would probably be the best idea.

Yes, that’s what I was saying. There’s certain circumstances where the money can be removed from your account (or ‘reversed’), but the sender will have to give paypal a [hopefully good] reason. In other words, if I send you $100.00 via paypal and you accept it, there’s no way for me to take pull that back out of your account. That ability would undermine paypal to the point that it would be useless. No one would use it if every sender had to use the honor system and promise not to take their money back later.

The email seems inelegant, and I have absolutely no experience with modern hiring processes, but I know that developers have been complaining for years that they’re asked to do these lengthy 4-8 hour coding interviews and not be compensated for their time. A friend of mine did start sending quotes to companies who had ridiculous demands, but he’s also the owner of his company and he’s used to billing for his time. And I don’t think any of those companies agreed to pay him for the interview process.

So I think you’re right to be cautious, but I also think this might be a sign of a new paradigm.

I’d be more concerned that they want you to work in PHP :stuck_out_tongue:

Why? I know PHP and if they want to pay me to work in it, I have no problem with doing so. A large portion (maybe the majority?) of websites us it for their backends.

Bad joke. It’s just a bit of a trope right now because PHP is old, it’s like people complaining about writing Java even though Java is still everywhere and will probably be a lucrative language for the rest of my life.

There’s certainly a shift toward interview processes that include doing some paid work - hire the interviewee as a contractor to do a small unit of work that should take a couple of hours and pay the going rate for that work. This way the company gets an actual example of work product, the interviewee gets an actual example of team dynamics, and no one is doing anything for free.
But in that case, I would expect the company to pay you as they would any vendor or contractor, which is unlikely to be via Paypal.

Why in heaven’s name should you be expected to pay to take a test? This screams scam.

Get paid, as I understand it. For your time.

Well, I wouldn’t be giving them my social yet, that’s for damn sure.

I also think testing commitment by paying for your interview is pure garbage. That would offend me. Even if this is legit, I would be highly concerned that they are cheap as shit and barely holding on financially.

The closest thing I did to this was spend several hours writing up a legitimate application for a company that they could and probably did steal and did not hire me. That chapped my hide.

Unless I were desperate, I wouldn’t bother. If I were desperate, I guess it would come down to the cost of the test. If it’s enough you’re going to feel a big sting if this turns out to be nothing, I wouldn’t do it.

Look at this way: if this is the type of job you’re looking for, every time you find a prospective client/employer you will go through the same questions… “How do you know you’ll get paid, or won’t get scammed?” You have to be prepared to take some risks. I certainly did when I started freelancing, I’d do small jobs for whomever, never expecting to get paid. Some did pay and I did more work for them and eventually a few became long-term clients. As far as the ones who didn’t pay, all I lost was some time.

Maybe they are scamming you, or maybe they’ve been in your shoes before and know your concerns, so they’re taking this opportunity to show you that they can ideed pay you, and to make sure you can take payment from them through their preferred methods.

One option is to offer to take the test for free. Definitely tell them your expected salary and that you’ll expect to get paid for all your hours, should the hire you, but the test is complimentary. If it is really a chargeback scam then they’ll lose interest in you. If the test was 4-8 hours, yes it’s better to charge them, but for less than 2 hours it’s no big loss of your time.

If you do start working for them, don’t spend your first few paycheques right away. Sit on the money for a few weeks until you’re confident that they won’t scam you. It’s always a good idea to keep a paycheque or two in reserve anyway.

TLDR; Due to the nature of the position you’re seeking, at some point you have to take the risk, but go in with your eyes open.

ETA: They’re also offering to pay via echeck, not sure what that is but if you’re uncomfortable with PayPal you can look into that option.

I wrote a similar post, but then I realized the company is paying the OP to take the test, not the other way around.

Twenty-some years ago, I had to take an online test before they hired me to check that I knew the languages I would be working with, but they didn’t pay me for it. It was a reputable company (and they did wind up hiring me, and I was there for many years).

But this just sounds odd. I don’t know anything about Test Dome - is it possible that they are trying to get claim to whatever you do so they can sell it? As in, get fifty applicants to code fifty different pieces of a project and hope it all works together?

If what Joey P says about Paypal being correct, and the “oops we sent you $300 instead of $150, can you send back a check for the difference” won’t work, I might got thru with it just for the experience. Of course they might also try to say “great, you’re hired, the $150 will be included in your first paycheck after you finish the project” and try to string you along that way. Or even “sorry, we meant we would pay you only if you were hired” and then ignore you from then on.

I don’t know what the market for web developers is like. If it is so tight that they have to pay people to apply, that’s one thing. Otherwise it might not be a new paradigm, but it may be a new scam.