Should You Go through the Interview Process for a Job You Decide You Don’t Want?

Maybe you applied for a new job on a whim and have just been contacted to schedule an initial phone screening, or perhaps you’ve already gone through the first round of interviews and have been asked to come back for a second meeting. Whatever the case may be, somewhere along the way you’ve decided you’re no longer interested in the position—and now you don’t know if you should continue on with the interview process. Believe it or not, struggling to decide in this situation is way more common than you might imagine.

Several factors play into the decision not to simply call it quits. For one, you might be apprehensive to make a prospective employer feel like you’ve wasted their time—thus, potentially burning a bridge to a job you might really want in the future.

On another hand, sometimes curiosity gets the best of you, and you’re dying to know what kind of offer they’ll make. After all, there’s nothing quite like being offered an extraordinary amount of money to make you feel like a million bucks. Honestly, there is no definitive, across-the-board correct solution to this predicament. However, closely examining the pros and cons of continuing through the interview process on a case-by-case basis should reveal your best course of action.

Three pros of continuing with the interview process

1. You’ll gain experience

Just because you no longer want the job, doesn’t mean you aren’t still looking to make a career move. Going through the interview process can provide invaluable insight into what specific qualities employers in your field are looking for and allows you to brush the dust off your interviewing skills without feeling the same amount of pressure you might experience in a setting where you know you might have something to lose.

2. You’ll get to see how your skills stack up

Putting your interviewing skills to the test will allow you to figure out how you might stack up against other candidates competing for a position you want to pursue in the future. If all goes well, and they decide to offer you the job, you’ll know you’re on the right track and can focus on refining the rough spots in your responses.

3. You could gain valuable leverage

Assuming the interview process ultimately results in an employment offer, you could potentially use it as leverage to help you secure a promotion or substantial raise at your current job. At the very least, you’ll get to see what your skill set is worth to potential employers.

Three cons of continuing with the interview process

1. You might end up wasting everyone’s time, including your own

If you’re going to invest time going through the interview process, you’ll want to make sure you gain more than you’ll lose from the experience. In the event it ever becomes clear to the employer that you never intended to accept the job were an offer made, you could not only burn bridges, but also create a bad reputation for yourself that might follow you around more closely than you think.

2. You’ll get to see how your skills stack up

Yep, a pro can also be a con. Sitting through multiple rounds of meetings only to be turned down for the job in the end can deal a crushing blow to your confidence and leave you feeling shaky the next time you seek out a new role. Are you willing to take this risk for a job you don’t want in the first place?

3. You may be tempted to change your mind

If an offer is attractive enough, you may be tempted to go against your better judgement and accept a job you don’t really want. Money won’t make up for the misery you could experience from giving up a good thing to go work for a company your gut steered you away from.

Weigh the pros and cons carefully when deciding whether to go through the interview process, and keep in mind, some of the pros can be cons—depending on the situation.

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