Traditionally, I shy away from stories that are based largely on hearsay, but this one is too strange to turn down. Roadshow came across an Imgur post, wherein a gentleman claims to have gone in for an interview at Uber, and all they did was pick his mind for ideas and opinions before cutting him loose and never contacting him again.
I got in contact with the man, a certified IT specialist from Pennsylvania, who I will keep anonymous for the sake of any future job prospects. His Imgur post claims that he went in to interview with Uber for a position that involves "driving" its autonomous vehicles. The interview appeared to take the better part of the day, with technical interviews, driving tests and a group interview. There was even pre-interview "homework" to do.
However, after going through the motions and waiting for a call back, it never came. He called the recruiter, and the recruiter claimed to not know about the interview at all. The recruiter then told the gentleman that they passed on every interviewee due to lack of perceived interest, and then expanded their job search from 40 open positions to 500.
The crux of the argument is that this man believes Uber is using these full-day interviews as a front to collect data without having to pay anybody. He alleges it's basically one big ruse, one that also claimed his colleague, along with an unnamed person in Detroit that flew out for the same thing. He's also mad that Uber didn't reach out again after the interview, which is a legitimate professional gripe.
To that end, Uber's response is about what you'd expect. "We are sorry this individual had a bad experience interviewing with us," an Uber spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "Every candidate should hear back yes or no whatever the outcome of the interview, and we are looking at what went wrong to ensure that it does not happen again. It is absolutely not true that we are gathering information from job candidates to inform self-driving research."
Were proof to exist that a multibillion-dollar corporation was taking advantage of folks hungry for jobs in order to arrange free focus groups, it would be a pretty big PR hit for a company that's trying to change how folks think about transportation. Nevertheless, without a mountain of proof or firsthand experience with it, I can't exactly sign off on the idea.
I will say, however, that the Imgur post's title, "Uber is nothing but jerks," made me giggle a bit. Full disclosure.