Let’s be honest: 95% of people work because they have to. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they dislike their jobs–though many do. But if you asked 100 random employees whether they would go to work if they did not get paid for their efforts, at least 95 (if not hundred) would laugh and say no way they’d go. If we look at it from this perspective, we almost always interview for jobs we do not want–we merely interview for jobs we are ready to tolerate as a source of our income. But…

In certain cases, you may actually interview for a job you really do not want. The mere idea of working for that company, or doing that type of work, sends shivers down your spine. Not because it excites you, but because it frightens you. Does it make any sense interviewing for such a job? And if you do so, what should you do in the interviews? We will try to find the answers on the following lines.


Every interview is a learning experience

Without a doubt you can prepare for the meetings with the hiring managers. For example, you landed on InterviewPenguin.com, probably the website which offers the best advice to the job seekers out there, especially when it comes to succeeding in the interviews. And you can check other websites as well, read books, hire interview coaches, and do other things to prepare.

However, you cannot simulate the pressure and the atmosphere of a real job interview. It is similar to a driving school. You start with theory and practicing on a driving simulator. Once you jump into the car, however, and find yourself in the traffic, having to make decisions and react to everything happening around you, you quickly understand that no simulator can prepare you for the real drive.


Interviewing for a job you do not want to get can help you get your dream job eventually

Statistically speaking, very few people get a decent job in their first interview. Because they are overwhelmed with the occasion, many questions catch them by surprise, and they just do not know how to react in certain situations, even though they prepared for them in advance.

But preparing for something in the comfort of your living room, and facing a panel of interviewers in some corporation, an environment completely foreign to you, are two very different things. The nerves, the pressure, the expectations–it is simply a different level.

If for this reason only (and there are more reasons as you will learn reading on), it makes sense interviewing for a job you do not want. Especially when you have little experience interviewing for jobs, or are just starting your professional career. Many questions (such as behavioral questions) repeat across all bigger corporations, and so do the situations you experience in the interviews (handshakes and smiles, introducing yourself, personality tests, etc). The more you experience them, the less stress you will feel, and the easier it will be for you to focus on what matters the most in the interviews.

You can always benefit from your connections with hiring managers

We live in the world of connections. Networking plays a big role in your professional success, and interviews are no exception. Maybe you do not want the job, but it still makes sense getting to know the interviewers (recruiters, managers from the company), ideally making a good impression on them, and perhaps making a good connection with them, on a personal level.

You may still refuse the job (if they happen to offer it to you, which can happen as long as you make a good impression on them). Because such things do happen, and I experienced them many times while leading interviews. The best candidate can easily refuse the job, for a variety of reasons (they got another offer, changed their mind, family reasons, etc).

But you made a connection, you have their email and phone number, and you never know how you can benefit from this in the future. Maybe a couple of months or years down the road you will find a great offer advertised by the company, and will decide to apply. In such a case, you won’t start from zero. You’ve already been there, you know someone from the company, and everything is suddenly easier… Networking plays a vital role in your professional career, and interviews are a great way of getting to know interesting (and sometimes also powerful) people from the corporate world. Keep it on your mind while deciding whether to accept or refuse an interview.


Many things can change on their offer after the interviews

You should ask yourself why you do not want the job. Is the salary offer the main reason? Or perhaps the fact that you’ll have to travel often, something you cannot imagine doing, considering your family situation? Or do you dislike the shift patterns?

You should realize that unless you dislike the core of the job, that means the principal activity you will do in work (talking to customers, working on market research, teaching, cutting grass, cleaning toilets, leading a team–depending on the job you are interviewing for), you can always discuss the issue, and convince them to change their offer.

Because a job offer a company advertises is not something definite. If they like you as a candidate, they may agree to many changes. They may agree to pay you 20% more, or with different shift patterns, or allowing you to work from home office twice a week, or whatever (these are just examples of course, and such changes won’t be possible with all jobs). So think once again why you do not want the job with them. Maybe it is something which can be discussed and changed, especially if you do well in the interviews.


Try your best regardless of whether you want the job or not

In order to benefit from the connection with the hiring managers later on, or to get a different offer in the interviews (with much better working conditions, or a better salary), you have to do well in the interviews. Or at least show an honest interest and strong motivation to work for the company. And that’s tough to do unless you try your best.

If you decide to interview for a job you do not want, you should prepare for the interview in a same way as you’d prepare for any other one. That means doing a good research about the employer (corporate values, working environment, career growth opportunities, their core business and leading figures), preparing for the questions you may face (you can do this with the help of our website), and basically doing everything you can to minimize the element of surprise.


Be honest with the interviewers at the end

Integrity is highly valued, not only on the job market. Once your interview approaches a close, and you discussed all the important matters with the hiring managers, you should tell them honestly whether you want the job or not. It doesn’t mean being rude, or anything similar.

But you can simply say, that after everything you’ve heard in the interviews, and learned about the company and the job offer along the way, you decided it isn’t the right match for your strengths, personality, and expectations. Or of course, it could be, if they changed this or that detail–which may or not be possible.

At the end of the day, you will be neither the first nor the last person who eventually refused a job offer. And hiring managers will understand it, as long as you are honest and do not let them waiting, or play some games with them…


Final thoughts

Each job interview is a chance to meet interesting people, learn something new, see how things work in a company, and, most importantly, to improve on your interviewing skills. That’s why I suggest you to accept interviews for jobs you do not really want, especially if you are new to the world of interviewing, or generally struggle to “sell your skills” in the interviews.

What is more, interview is a discussion (or at least a good one should be), and nothing is set in stone until both parties sign an employment agreement. Maybe the things you do not like about the job can easily be changed. But you won’t know unless you ask.

Sure enough, it costs time and money to travel to interviews, and you should consider whether the costs do not outweigh the benefits. But in most cases they don’t, at least in my opinion…

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Matthew Chulaw
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