when should you refuse a job interview?

Being invited to a job interview is usually an exciting experience, but how do you know when you should avoid a potential meeting? It’s generally a good idea to attend an interview, as it can provide valuable experience and help you hone your technique.

However, there are going to be times when you already know you won’t be accepting an offer so there is little point in going in for the interview. Rather than wasting their time, when should you consider refusing to attend a job interview?

Change in circumstances

Probably the best reason for having to refuse an interview is because your situation improves - whether that’s getting the promotion you’ve been gunning for at your current workplace or an exciting new job elsewhere.

If this is the case, you should ensure that you’re being professional and polite when you turn down the interview invite. After all, you shouldn’t burn any bridges when you may want to take advantage of the connections you’ve made later down the line.

Careers writer Richard Moy advises letting the hiring manager know as soon as possible that you won’t be showing up to the interview. He recommends “a simple email that doesn’t go into a whole lot of detail” to back out. However, he does add that you should personalize it to the specific company and position in question. Tell the manager that you’re grateful to be considered, but that you’ve decided to go in a different direction and that you look forward to following the organization’s success.

Company culture is not a match

You can learn a lot about a business before you meet with any of its representatives. A company’s employer brand can reveal a huge amount about how it treats its workers, as well as the type of candidate it is looking to attract. A company’s reputation is often enough for candidates to establish whether it’s the right place for them.

A major part of employer branding is company culture. You should ensure you’ve checked out the organization’s website and social media feeds before agreeing to attend an interview. These are valuable tools for you to be able to establish whether the company culture is one that you think you’d fit into well. If the way you perceive the business’ personality clashes with what you want from your future employer, it’s a good sign that you should consider refusing that interview.

You can also look at some of the employees’ feeds to gauge their opinions of their employer. If lots of them are continually making negative comments about their jobs, perhaps it’s best to stay away.

The salary is not what you expected

Salary is another major concern that could lead to you deciding to refuse an interview. During the course of your job search, there may be many times when the proposed salary will be withheld until further along in the process so you may be surprised to find that it is lower than you expected.

Although salary is often not the most important factor relating to a job, it’s a major consideration all the same. If the proposed salary is far below what you would expect for your experience level, you likely won’t be able to negotiate it up.

It’s also possible that you will come across discrepancies in the salary offered, with the job description saying one thing but HR department saying another. This could be reflective of divisions within the company, which is a certain red flag.

The employer is looking for more/less experience

You may have been encouraged to apply for a role by a persuasive recruiter, or you could’ve wanted to work for a specific company so applied for the first vaguely relevant position that came up. However, after speaking to the recruiter, you may have worked out that this isn’t the right fit for you.

It could transpire that the position calls for someone with either a lot more or a lot less experience than you have. This will lead to an awkward encounter during the interview when the hiring manager realizes you’re not the person they’re looking for.

Although there are jobs that you can do without the appropriate level of experience, it’ll likely be because you have too much. And if the role is below your skill level, you probably won’t get the career development you could elsewhere. According to executive coach Jonathan Alpert, “you deserve progression and advancement” - and our own research backs this up, with 90 percent of professionals believing that regularly refreshing their skills will enhance their employability. So it is entirely understandable to refuse an interview if you don’t think you’ll get it from this job.

Although knowing if you should go to an interview will come down to specific circumstances, there are a number of warning signs that could flag up an inappropriate opportunity. Make sure you’re conducting enough research to work out if going to an interview is a good idea or if you’d be wasting both your own time and that of the hiring manager.

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