When To Say “No” To a Job Interview

So, you were offered an interview—now what? Of course, the obvious answer is to accept enthusiastically. You never know who you’ll meet, or who they’ll know. But if you’ve recently been laid off or are in-between jobs, it’s a normal, survival-mode reaction to apply everywhere and see what happens. And then you realize what a full-time job it can actually become to go on interviews (the Q&A prep, the last-minute manicure, the new dress because your old staple is at the dry cleaner’s), so you start to feel the need to pick and choose. While yes, in most cases you should take the interview—here’s how to prioritize when things become overwhelming:

1. Make sure you and the hiring manager are on the same page.

For my first job interview after graduation, I flew to New York City, put on my best blazer, and went to an indie label that (I thought) housed my dream job: I had discussed a social media manager position with the owner during the months leading up to graduation. Once I arrived, it became clear that I was interviewing for an internship that paid $8 a day, which isn’t exactly fruitful in New York City. It’s easy for information to be lost when it’s passed down from top management, so make sure you know exactly what you’ll be discussing. If you’re looking for a full-time job, confirm that it’s not a freelance position. If you have management experience, confirm that it’s not entry-level. The last thing you want is an expensive plane ticket that leads you nowhere.

2. Address any other concerns.

If you’re clear on the position but still feel on-the-fence, you can buy yourself more time to think by asking questions. If you have salary requirements or are curious about the company’s parental leave policy, it’s totally OK to ask for that information upfront. This new data gives you an opportunity to reconsider—and if you do back out, it’s time saved on both ends, not just yours.


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