is it a mistake to turn down an interview because you’re not enthusiastic about the job? — Ask a Manager
A reader writes:
Is it a mistake to turn down an interview because you’re not passionate about the job?
I’m a 28-year-old woman and at a stable, pretty well-earning point in my life after growing up poor. I allowed my LinkedIn to be open to opportunities, because I am. But I also like my job. Not enough that I’d never leave, but enough that to leave I would need a really great offer. Since then, recruiters have been sliding into my DMs. I turned one down earlier today as, despite it being a good offer, it didn’t make me feel excited to work with them. The chances of me accepting were slim, and wasting my time on prep and their time setting up seemed cruel. The part of me that grew up poor is having a bit of a panic, though. Should you always interview? Or is it okay to get picky?
When you can be picky, it makes sense to be picky.
“Can be picky” means you have a stable, reasonably secure job that you’re happy in, or you have in-demand skills and are confident you could get a new job if/when you needed one, or you have enough of a financial safety net that you can prioritize things other than an immediate need to earn money.
When you’re in a situation with options, there’s no point in spending time interviewing for jobs that you can already tell won’t interest you (or won’t pay what you want, or so forth).
In that situation, it can also make sense to address some of your deal-breakers right up-front with recruiters. For example, it’s fine to say, “I want to be up-front with you that I’m happy at my current job and wouldn’t leave for less than $X. Does it make sense to keep talking?” or “I’m happy at my current job, but I’m very interested in (area X) and might consider moving for a role with a big focus there. What’s your sense of how much this position would work on X?”
There of course are times when job seekers can’t afford to be picky, like when they’re unemployed and in need of an income, or when their skills/experience aren’t in-demand and they have fewer options to choose from. In those cases, you do what’s practical, which can mean compromising on things that otherwise might be important in your search. For example, I was recently talking to someone who was annoyed by the number of steps in a company’s hiring process and was thinking about dropping out just on principle … even though everything else seemed fine and he badly wanted to leave his current job and didn’t have many other options. That’s a situation where the person needed to be less picky. Even then, there are still limits; you don’t want to jump straight from one bad job into another! But the realities of money dictate how picky you can or can’t be.
That doesn’t sound like your situation. It could be different if you were seeing signs of instability at your company, or if jobs in your field rarely opened up, or if you were really wanted to leave and hadn’t gotten many bites. But assuming none of that is the case and you’re just feeling obligated to interview because it feels dangerous not to keep all your options open at all times, even if you don’t like those options as well as your current situation … let yourself enjoy some of your security. You don’t need to spend time talking about jobs you’re not interested in and that you don’t feel moved to pursue, when you’ve (a) already created a situation for yourself that you like and (b) have assessed it as reasonably secure and (c) you know you’ve got options out there if at some point you do want them.