Beware: Instant messenger job interviews

Retailers will hire upwards of 600,000 seasonal workers this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

A Muskego woman recently learned that not every job posting is legitimate. After her interview for a job through instant messenger, she wrote to Contact 6.

"I'm not the only one out there, looking for a part-time job," Kathy Pickett said. "I thought it was maybe too good to be true."

Kathy Pickett

Pickett says she was scrolling on Facebook when she spotted the job ad. It was an at-home data entry position for Hobby Lobby.

"It said, "if you’re interested in a part-time or full-time position, please reach out to me with a private message that you’re interested," Pickett recalls. "I thought, Hobby Lobby? That’s kind of fun. I could do that."

Pickett was instructed to download a messaging app. Her interview took place through the messaging system. The interview questions weren’t unusual at first.

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Then, Pickett was asked questions about her credit cards and her bank. She was asked to send a picture of her driver’s license, even though she hadn’t yet spoken to a live person.

"I said, "no, I’m really uncomfortable sharing this information," said Pickett. "She says, "Oh, you don’t have to worry. You can trust us."

Pickett declined the job and ended the conversation.

Contact 6 reached out to the job recruiter whom Pickett thought she communicated with. AlphaSights told Contact 6: it doesn’t recruit for Hobby Lobby, and never interviewed Pickett.

"We do not hire via Skype or Facebook and do not collect financial information as a pre-employment requirement," wrote Bee Patel, AlphaSights communications manager. "AlphaSights is in no way affiliated with Hobby Lobby."

Hobby Lobby didn’t respond to Contact 6’s request for comment.

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The administrator of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) advises consumers to be suspicious of any job posted on social media.

"If you can’t verify the authenticity of the person you’re talking to, or you’re engaging with, then you shouldn’t engage," said Lara Sutherlin, DATCP administrator.

Lara Sutherlin, DATCP administrator

Sutherlin says job applicants should never provide personal banking information during interviews. They should also avoid jobs that ask employees to spend money up front.

"By having to pay for training materials that should otherwise be free," said Sutherlin, offering one example.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has warned consumers about employment scams through messaging apps.

Response from Bee Patel, AlphaSights Communications Manager

"AlphaSights has no affiliation with individuals purporting to recruit via private channels on Facebook, such as the individual mentioned in your email. We do have an employee named [omitted] however, [she] has not been in contact with an individual named Kathleen regarding any job opportunities. Further, AlphaSights is in no way affiliated with Hobby Lobby and does not provide recruiting support services or services of any type to Hobby Lobby. 

We have explicitly made prospective applicants aware of our recruitment process  on our Facebook page:  

‘Please be aware that AlphaSights only recruits through our official email address domain: "" If you're contacted by anyone other than from this domain, we advise that you do not share any information and recommend that you report such outreach to appropriate authorities. Please note that we do not hire via Skype or Facebook and do not collect financial information as a pre-employment requirement. For a full list of open positions please visit:’

For reference, we also have a note included on our LinkedIn page

‘Please note that AlphaSights communicates exclusively by email through the AlphaSights domain,, LinkedIn, and phone (including via text, WhatsApp, and WeChat). Any communications you receive that purport to come from AlphaSights but have been sent from another email domain (e.g. Gmail or Hotmail) or via other forms of social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Telegram) are likely to be fraudulent. If in doubt as to whether you have received genuine communication from AlphaSights, please contact us at’"