Should I Go On This Job Interview Or Not?
May 13, 2012 3:40 PM   Subscribe

I have a job interview tomorrow for a job I'm not really interested in. I currently have a job, but it's a contract position with no guarantee of going permanent, so I've still been applying to other jobs and I feel it is irresponsible and ungrateful for me to not go through with this job interview tomorrow. However, the more I think about it, the more upset I get, because I am not sure I would take the job if it were offered to me, even though it would be a permanent position. I'm not even really sure I'm thinking straight anymore. I could use some perspective and/or wisdom and/or advice.

I will try to keep this brief:

My career background is in Industry A, and I like working in Industry A a lot. I was laid off from my last job in January and was lucky enough to score another position in less than a month. This new position is a contract position that is tangentially related to Industry A (but not quite *in* Industry A). The job function is the same as my last job (and the job before that). This contract job is with a very, very prestigious company. It looks nice on my resume.

As a result of prestigious company being on my resume/LinkedIn, a recruiter from another company contacted me about a similar job at their company - another well known but slightly less prestigious company. This company is in Industry B. Industry B is not even remotely similar to Industry A. The company that is trying to recruit me does interesting work, but generally I am not that enthusiastic about it. However, since I am still technically looking for work since there's no guarantee that my current contract job will go permanent, and since I was a bit curious, I chatted with the recruiter and had a phone interview. They asked me the "what salary range are you thinking of" question during the phone interview. Normally I would deal with that question very carefully, but since I was just sort of playing along I threw out a number that is way, way over what I currently make.

Apparently it didn't faze them, because now they want me to interview with them on site tomorrow. This terrifies me. I agreed, but I have been having second thoughts about it ever since.

My dilemma is as follows:

*I don't want to work in Industry B. The contract position I am in is already a bit of a tangent to my career path in Industry A thus far, but I am able to spin it and make it seem like it's in Industry A. I feel like it is dishonest of me to pursue this job in Industry B when I likely wouldn't take it were it offered to me.

*BUT my current contract position is only till October, with the potential but no guarantee of going permanent. It feels irresponsible for me to not follow through with interviewing for the Industry B job when nothing is certain and the economy is as crappy as it is.

*BUT BUT my current contract position is a really good one, and having the prestigious company name in my resume is a really good thing and sets me up to be in a good place come October when I will need to really start looking after this contract is up. I like the people I work with and I want to make sure that I will have good references. It seems to me like it would be stupid to walk away from a situation like this UNLESS it was for an amazing opportunity in my chosen industry, Industry A. I don't want to burn a bridge this important for a job I'm not that excited about in a completely different industry that I don't really care about, just because it is a permanent job.

*If I go in this interview tomorrow for the Industry B job, I have to take the morning off from work. Because I am a contractor, I'm essentially forfeiting half a days' pay for an interview for a job I don't even want.

*But maybe I should suck it up and go, just to satisfy my curiosity (would they really make me an offer with a salary as high as I quoted?). It's also good practice for future interviews. Also, at this point, wouldn't it be really unprofessional for me to call tomorrow and say "Sorry, I don't want to interview anymore?" How does one do that?

I really honestly don't know what to do, and the more I think about it the more worked up and upset I get. I feel like I should go on the interview because one shouldn't turn down interviews in this economy, but I also feel so strongly that I do NOT want to work in Industry B that this whole process is a big giant waste of my time (not to mention the time of the folks at the Industry B company). But I am freezing up and can't make a decision either way. Please help. I keep going round and round in circles and can't stop.
posted by thereemix to Work & Money (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
To me it sounds like you love working for [current company] in Industry A, and not only are you leery of working for [other company] in Industry, but the idea actively upsets you.

Based on this, I cannot see that the interview is anything but a waste of your time. Stay with [current company] and find something permanent you like better.
posted by fearnothing at 3:50 PM on May 13, 2012

i think you should take your own advice: "But maybe I should suck it up and go, just to satisfy my curiosity (would they really make me an offer with a salary as high as I quoted?). It's also good practice for future interviews"

if you know you don't want the job, just go to the interview with an attitude of relaxed curiosity. it definitely is great practice for future interviews where you DO care about the outcome and may be more nervous.

also, it's an interview, not an offer. just some people chatting for a bit to see if they want to work together in the future. for all you know, they might decide you're not a good fit after all. or you might be surprised at how excited you are by the opportunity.

the worst that could happen is that you talk to (read: network) with some people who work in Industry B (and learn more about Industry B), gently turn them down, and are better prepared to rock future interviews with awesome companies in Industry A.
posted by guybrush_threepwood at 3:51 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, just go, check it out - nothing's set in stone.
posted by mleigh at 3:52 PM on May 13, 2012

Go! You can go in considering it as just an "informative interview". But you could be surprised. You can note that you intend to finish out your current contract.

You have been asked to this interview for a reason. Things work in strange ways.

On the flip side, if you cancel this interview, your recruiter will scratch you off and possibly blackball you.


Go. Even if they make an offer of 10x the salary you are thinking about, you don't have to take it.

Don't dread this interview at all. Good luck.
posted by caclwmr4 at 3:52 PM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Go and take it seriously. It may turn out that this company has other positions open you would be interested in, and the interview tomorrow could open those doors.
posted by curtains at 3:59 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I also think you should go.

A few months ago, I interviewed for a job I was sure I didn't want (very sure -- I had spoken to the boss on the phone, and thought he was kind of a jerk, and very much resented having to get dressed up, and he was late to the interview!).

I work there now. He isn't a jerk (liked him much better in person, and he made me a much better offer). You never know. It is even possible that you wouldn't mind working in this other industry for way more money.

This is a very low-risk proposition (half a day's wages isn't that big a sacrifice, even if you decide you're not into it). Go. Satisfy your curiosity.
posted by emumimic at 4:03 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

It is always worth going to a job interview. They're not going to offer you the job on the spot, so you can use it to see if it really is what you think it is, if you like the atmosphere at the office, and to make another contact or two. There's no downside.
posted by tzikeh at 4:07 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I can't tell you how many times I've been in similar situations. I'd be halfway or not even looking and get a lead on a position, take a look out of curiousity and end up with an interview. Oftentimes if I was happy in my current position I'd be rather reluctant to continue in the process after the initial interview, but I've always made it a rule to go on at least one interview. And about 80% of the time, I found that it was a lot more interesting and a better fit than I thought. I've ended up in two of my favorite positions this way.

Definitely go.
posted by tigerjade at 4:13 PM on May 13, 2012

Literally the best way to learn how to do job interviews well is to do some where you don't care whether they make you an offer or not. All the pressure is off, so you'll be able to see things about the process that you would never notice otherwise; and the next time you take an interview that you do care about, you'll be that much better at handling it for having peeked behind the curtain this time.

Absolutely take the interview, and take it seriously. Interviewing is a skill and there aren't many opportunities to practice it. Witnessing how other companies or industries than your own function (or not!) is also valuable experience.

And you never know: maybe you'll discover that the company is awesome. It happens.
posted by ook at 4:22 PM on May 13, 2012

It sounds like part of what is upsetting you about the possibility of going to the interview is the feeling of responsibility and the feeling that you SHOULD both do the interview and consider the job if they offer it. But please remember that you absolutely do not have to take the job, even if it's for a crazy-high amount of money and even if it is permanent. The economy is bad, sure, but it's still totally fine and not foolish to turn down offers if they aren't what you want. So that said, I think you should go for the practice and for the insight into another organization, but remembering that you are allowed to turn the job down might take some of the dread out of it.
posted by aka burlap at 5:39 PM on May 13, 2012

It seems like the worst that could happen is that you end up working in Industry B with a fabulous job and paycheck, thus ending up with significant experience on your resume in TWO industries.

Unless Industry A is playing string quartets and Industry B is like, playing an out-of-tune piano in a whorehouse, I can't see why this would be a bad thing.
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:51 PM on May 13, 2012

Go. Use it as practice. Interviews are great practice.
posted by manicure12 at 5:53 PM on May 13, 2012

Go, totally. The worst-case scenario is you get interview practice and no offer; there's literally no downside. Your concern over lost wages is unjustified simply based on the probable benefit to you of interview practice, and if you get an offer, and don't want to leave your currrent gig, it's time to renegotiate.
posted by mwhybark at 6:00 PM on May 13, 2012

I don't know how "contract positions" work, but could you tell Company A, "hey look, I got a job offer for $10x and a permanent position. Is there anything you can do to make it easier for me to stay here?" If a "contract position" means "you're breaking a contract and burning the bridge," this may not apply.
posted by salvia at 6:02 PM on May 13, 2012

I've interviewed for a job I didn't even really want to apply for, much less take, and they blew me away with their culture and interest in employees. I've loved my job since.
posted by OrangeDrink at 6:36 PM on May 13, 2012

An interview isn't just to see if the employer wants to hire you, you know. They're there so you can learn about the company and see if you want to work there.

Worst case scenario, practice never hurt anyone.
posted by AlisonM at 7:07 PM on May 13, 2012

I wouldn't advise against going, because as everybody says, interviewing is great to at least practice at, and this company might surprise you by having something you hadn't expected.

However, I would say you should be very cautious about your head space here. Your contract isn't up until October, and it is very common practice to hire people full time after a successful contract. Is it a common practice at your company? If the company you are at is a better fit for your long term goals, it is perfectly reasonable to turn a job offer down from another company if you fear it will set you far afield of your desired career.

If you are going on this interview only out of a sense of obligation, without a really concerted effort to check your head on this, I can imagine you'd really struggle mightily with a job offer! The only reason to go on this job interview is to potentially improve your station. There is no universal job karma you need to even out here, you are responsible for looking out for your own interests, as the companies you work for are responsible to theirs.

Don't forget that this interview came your way because of your position at the prestigious company you work for. The desirability factor that this job gives to you will still be there in the late summer and early fall. If it looks like this contract won't turn into the permanent work you hope for, you will likely still be just as attractive to employers, if not more so, with more time under your belt.
posted by pazazygeek at 7:54 PM on May 13, 2012

Affirming the views of others. Interviewing is a skill. Practice to help perfect the skill. You have nothing to lose here so sharpen your self for a future interview for a job you really want.
posted by dry white toast at 7:56 PM on May 13, 2012

I was in this position a couple of months ago (not looking, contacted via linkedIn etc). I did the interview, and then a second interview, and then a third. I was completely unsure all the way through but it was a big salary rise, a prestigious company, an astonishing location... but eventually I declined the offer. It might have been a great opportunity but it would have taken my career in a direction I really, honestly, didn't want to go - and two/three years at that firm would have been 2/3 years I wasn't gaining experience in a field I do really want to work in.

It was very stressful but I'm glad I did it. I understand your ambivalence, I was really scared that going through the interviews would mean I wouldn't be able to say no, especially when the good-on-paper aspect of it made me doubt my instincts. I too had to take time off work, and also spent a weekend working on the interview presentation when I should have been on holiday. But actually, after the third interview I was able to say quite definately that this was not a job I wanted, and that was very empowering. But even if they hadn't wanted to take it further I still got a lot of useful stuff out of the experience, not least a new suit and a brush up of my interview skills should dream job open up in a few months!

So I say go for it, trust yourself to know what's right for you if an offer is made. And if it doesn't pan out you'll still have had a useful experience.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:16 AM on May 14, 2012

Thanks everyone for the perspective. I decided to go - in fact, about to head into the building in a few minutes. I'm going to treat this as an opportunity for interview practice and see how it goes.

Thanks again, all. :)
posted by thereemix at 6:11 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

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