"Why do some staffing agency recruiters insist on pre-interviewing you before even starting to look for a job for you? I suspect this could be a wonderful way to discriminate. They discover things like age, height, race, and whether or not a person may have physical limitations. I'm currently looking for a new position, and contacted a large staffing agency. When they mentioned  a pre-interview screening, I said that might be deemed discriminatory. I never heard anything more from this company."

When I typed the word "staffing" into the search window of a business forum I occasionally check in on, I came across a number of people who were posting about this subject of "pre-interview screening," all under the broader heading of age discrimination.

These are some of the comments I read from job candidates, all using this national staffing agency.

"I had an interview scheduled for a permanent position. When I arrived, I was instead sent to a 'pre-interview' conducted by a Temp-Contract rep, and was asked to fill out papers only for temp/contract positions. I told them I was supposed to be interviewing for a permanent position. After some goofy looks, I finally met with a permanent rep, who spent the entire interview telling me how unemployable I was. I have 28 years in my field and am 53. You figure it out. To date (after 10 months) I have not heard back from them."

"Age discrimination is absolutely practiced at this company. It's couched in other terms; i.e., you are 'not a good fit,' but it does play a part in the job search. This is truly disturbing and illegal."

"Age discrimination is absolutely practiced at this company. It's couched in other terms; i.e., you are 'not a good fit,' but it does play a part in the job search. This is truly disturbing and illegal."

"After reading the above comments, I now know that I am not alone. It is so disheartening to know that you have the qualifications, skills, experience, etc. to do the job but you are not given the chance because of your age. I have over 20 years in the business, look nowhere near my age, am healthy and yet I cannot even get a nod for a secretarial or typist position. I wish that I had found this blog earlier -- then I would not have wasted my time with an agency that has absolutely no intentions of using me as a valued employee."

"Your age really works against you. If you are even over 40, good luck, you will need it. I've been told, face to face by a recruiter, that the client they were hiring for was a 'very young group' - code for I am too old."

"I've been told, face to face by a recruiter, that the client they were hiring for was a 'very young group' - code for I am too old."

"Everything that everyone says about age discrimination is true. I have over 20 years of experience at only 2 jobs. I interviewed several times with this staffing company, took the tests (scoring in the 98% range) only to be told in an e-mail that I did not have the skills their clients were looking for -- translation 'you are too old (at 61) for us to bother with.'"

One former employee says this company does indeed practice age discrimination with a secret coding system. "They passed out a sheet in our training seminar saying to grade someone who was a 'mature worker' lower."

Of course you can type in the name of nearly every company in America and find the comments of some disgruntled employees, former employees or would-be employees. So I do look at these sites with some reservation and prejudice.

But in this specific case of age discrimination, there did seem to be some common threads and systematic similarities, so I wondered if it is simply an accepted way of doing business.

I don't discriminate on age but I sure as hell won't call you if you have a crappy attitude problem or act like the world is all against you.

I'll close with the comments of someone who labeled themselves as a "recruiter," and comes to the defense of those who find jobs for others for a living, while criticizing some of the unhappy commenters.

"I want to present the flip side to all you folks. I think that a lot of the folks posting to this forum are having a tough time finding work, which is unfortunate. I also think some of you are blaming all of your troubles on recruiters and staffing agencies which is ridiculous. Let me simplify things for you. We have to provide clients with what they ask for. That is the way business is done. A lot of clients know exactly what they want to see on a resume, and if they don't see it, they aren't interested. Period. Nine times out of 10, we don't get to sell candidates based on their great personality or potential or ability to learn quickly. That's just the market these days. Keep in mind we are not miracle workers. We can't make sow's ears into silk purses. I don't discriminate on age but I sure as hell won't call you if you have a crappy attitude problem or act like the world is all against you. Finally, we aren't the only path to jobs. If you all are such a catch, why are you still out of work? Maybe we aren't the only ones who aren't impressed by you? Hmmm."

Tags: Industry, Pre-interview screening