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Going On Interviews for Jobs You Don't Want Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit

Question: Maybe this will sound like a silly question, but should I bother going on interviews I get contacted for even if I'm not all that interested in the job? Sometimes I apply to postings on the job boards just to see what happens. Or else a position that looks good one day doesn't seem so great after I've applied and thought about the job or company more. My friend is saying that any interview is a good interview. Personally I don't want to waste my time. What do you think?
Arjay D, Kelowna, British Columbia

Dear Arjay,

At first the answer might seem obvious: who on earth would squander their precious time and energy going on interviews for opportunities they don't want? But there are actually several situations where pulling out your best outfit, getting a haircut, rehearsing answers and showing up for the grilling can benefit you, even if you're not excited by that particular job or employer. Here are a few instances when you might be inclined to go for it anyway:
  • You Need Interviewing Practice

If you haven't been on an interview for more than a year or so, or if your most recent interviews were inside your own organization only, it might be time to test the waters just for the sake of getting refreshed on the art of making positive impressions. We all know that practice makes perfect; the same applies with persuading an employer that you're their ideal candidate. After the interview is over, make notes about what you did well and also where you need to improve.
  • The Job Interests You ''Somewhat''

While you may not be leaping off your seat with enthusiasm for this specific role, maybe once you get to the interview you'll find out that there is more to the position than the job description let on. If there are additional elements that appeal to you, could be the overall package becomes more desirable.
  • You Want To Obtain Some Competitive Intelligence (Inside Info)

I once had a client who went on any interview she could get with companies that competed against the one she actually wanted to work for. This way, when she finally secured an interview with her first choice employer, she had all sorts of insider tidbits about their competition. An ethical approach? Hey, all's fair in love, war and job hunting, right?
  • Desperation is Creeping In

Employment experts try to point people in the direction of the client's ''ideal'' job. That's wonderful advice if you can afford to pay your rent and buy groceries for the next while. However if the cupboard's bare and the landlord's knocking, sometimes taking a survival job is the only choice you have in the short or mid-term. Often it can be leveraged into something better later on.
Other reasons to consider going on these types of interviews include the fact that you will make new contacts, and hopefully impress them so if additional roles open up in the future, you'll be top of mind for them. Plus once you've secured that initial interview, you never know if the employer will ask if you'd be willing to accept some other job within their organization - either immediately, or down the road a bit.

One last note: if you're not going to bother preparing adequately, then I advise you to graciously decline an offer to interview. You'll only be wasting your time and theirs; time that you could better spend networking into the hidden job market and increasing your chances of finding suitable employment.

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