Should I go on an Interview even if I’m not interested?

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So here is a question I get asked a lot from job seekers: Should I go on an interview even if I’m not interested in the job? While you may wonder why someone would consider doing this, the reasons I usually hear from job seekers generally fall into a few categories: “I’m not 100% sure what I want so maybe I should go,” or “the job may be lower level than I want but I haven’t had an interview in a long time and I need income,” or I need some practice since I have not interviewed in a long time. They feel that interviewers get the opportunity to interview many candidates for a position, and rule out those that don’t make the cut. So, is it really so terrible for candidates to “interview” many companies or positions to determine what is right for them? And is there any harm to job seekers who do this?

Well, as a former recruiter, I can guess that the initial reaction of other recruiters reading this is that such a candidate is taking advantage of someone else’s time and is highly disingenuous. While it is certainly true that they will only make an offer to one candidate, they would argue that they are not wasting job seekers time as they are interviewing candidates who they are genuinely interested in. Furthermore, your feelings may come through during the course of the interview and could damage the opportunity to be considered for other positions in that company in the future.

On the other hand, I sometimes hear the reverse from my clients, such as: “I didn’t go on the interview because I wasn’t sure the job was really for me,” or “I removed myself from the process because I was afraid that the salary would be too low.” And they potentially miss out on a great opportunity! So what is the right answer here?

As with anything else in life, I think you need to use good judgment. If you know you are not at all interested in the job and you just want practice, perhaps it would be best to look at other ways to get that. Many recruiting firms who are interested in having your resume and promoting you for jobs also offer candidates free interview coaching. The free one-stop-centers through the department of labor also offer a variety of job search assistance including free workshops on interview skills. Of course, there are numerous professional career coaches who would be happy to help any job seeker. If you fall into the category that covered all of the other reasons, then it is certainly worth your time and the recruiter’s to go interview and see if there is a match. What if you go on the interview and love what you hear about the job? What if the job turns out to be exactly the right level but the job ad just did not reflect it? What if they are willing to do a salary review in 6 months if all works out and you will be commensurate with what you want? Who would want to miss out on these possibilities?!

Recruiters and HR people tend to be highly perceptive creatures. They can read your nonverbals and will judge you harshly if they feel they are being misled. So use your head and be sure to speak genuinely and honestly in your answers and I am confident you will succeed in your search.