If you’re in or contemplating a serious job search, you might find it hard to imagine that you could have an opportunity for interviews you don’t want–or interviews for jobs you realize you don’t want. However, stranger things have happened.
Interviews You Don’t Want
Sometimes a situation is doomed from the outset, but you don’t always know it ahead of time. However, there are some signals you can watch for that might suggest a “pass on this one” would be smart. For instance, if you learn that the company is in the midst of a potentially major change (possible merger or acquisition, etc.), that might not be the best time for interviewing there. By the same token, if some other kind of upheaval is going on (such as the abrupt departure of one or more key people on the executive team), you might want to hold off on interviewing with that organization.
You can, of course, decide the risk is worth taking because the potential payoff outweighs it. Only you can decide if you want to move forward to the interview in such a situation. One sample scenario would be if you’ll have the chance to interview with an influential person that could be a good future contact.
Interviews for Jobs You Don’t Want
Although it might be unlikely that you’ll go to multiple job interviews where you have awareness of high risk in advance, it’s not uncommon to go into one thinking you’re genuinely interested in the position and realizing partway through that it’s not a good fit for you–either the job itself or the company or both. What do you do in a case like that?
As others have said before me, you don’t necessarily want to bail from that interview prematurely, which could leave a bad impression on (burn bridges with) someone who could later be in a position to help or hurt your career. At the same time, you probably shouldn’t go full-speed-ahead with a high level of enthusiasm if you already know you wouldn’t accept an offer if they made one. You’ll want to see the interview through to a polite conclusion and, if appropriate, indicate that although you appreciate the time spent, you’ve realized you and the position aren’t a good fit right now.
Recently I read an article titled “How to Decline a Job Interview and Make It a Win/Win” that suggested ways you can also make a really favorable impression by offering information about potential candidates who might be a good fit (if you know one) or indicating other things you would be happy to do that might be helpful to the interviewer and his/her company. That’s certainly something to think about. It would undoubtedly make you more memorable to the interviewer after the interview is over and done.
A Final Word
Of course, this is all assuming you’ve done your due diligence before signing up for any interviews that might put you on the spot. If you have, you should at least minimize the likelihood of having it happen.
Having just about completed a massive (coast-to-coast) relocation of home and business, I learned a valuable lesson that job seekers can (and should) apply to their next job search. With few–maybe no–exceptions, you can’t tackle a huge project alone and expect to complete it successfully on all fronts. Major projects require teamwork, and even then, they can be challenging.
Job Search a Team Sport?
You might quibble about my labeling job search as a sport. Would it help if I put “sport” in quotes? Seriously, a team sport is one that (by definition) involves more than one player. Usually that means there’s a captain–a leader–who gives the team a focus and helps them work together to achieve a common goal. That might mean winning a lot of games in whatever the sport is or at least making a strong effort to do well and to keep improving until they achieve a goal they’ve set for themselves.
That concept works for me just as well in terms of a job search. You could consider yourself the captain of your job search team, the person with a clear sense of the goal (a new job) and an awareness of at least some of the challenges that could lie in store for you before you reach that goal. But a captain isn’t much good without a solid team behind him or her. A captain can’t cover all the positions required to win.
Who Needs to Be on Your Team?
Some people should be with you on your job search from start to finish. They might be family members, close friends, respected colleagues, or some other category. The important point is that they need to have a strong desire to see you succeed in finding your next great job, either because they have a vested interest in the outcome or because they get a lot of satisfaction from helping someone achieve a key goal–or both. They should be people whose opinion you value and respect, not someone who might work harder on his or her personal axe to grind than on your success.
At times, though, you’ll want a person on your team who doesn’t have to be there for the long haul. That can include people whose expertise in a particular area presents a potentially strong value for your job search. You might consult such a person on a short-term basis, get the help you need, and let them go with gratitude for their contribution.
With my long-distance move, I had a lot of helpers, and I couldn’t have done it without them–such as the amazing real estate agent who sold our home in California at a good price, the agent in Massachusetts she connected me with (who found us the wonderful home we now live in), the resourceful handyman that second agent recommended, and the friendly neighbors who put me in touch with top-notch service providers in our area for essential needs such as plumbing work and irrigation systems.
Your job search is arguably one of the most important activities you’ll engage in, professionally speaking. Make sure you view it as a team sport and line up the players you really need to get you where you want to go.