How to Wrap Up a Dead End Interview

August 14th, 2020

Not every interview leads to a successful connection and a promising new job. In fact, sometimes it becomes clear that the job is a mismatch even before the interview session is over. If your interviewer or would-be employer brings up a non-negotiable deal-breaker or reveals some information that takes the job off your list, what should you do?

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Don’t just head for the door (unless you have a good reason)

You may not want the job, but there’s nothing wrong with maintaining goodwill and positive relationships, especially if your industry is self-contained and you may run into some of these people again someday. Even if you spend another twenty minutes engaged in a go-nowhere conversation, that’s a small price to pay to keep doors open for yourself at some unknown point in the future. If it feels like a polite and appropriate thing to say, explain why you don’t feel inclined to move forward with the role. Maybe the commute is too far or the salary too low. Give the employers a chance to speak if they might be able to raise the offer or allow you to work remotely. If they aren’t interested, politely explain that the job isn’t for you and give them the chance to say goodbye first.

If you have a good reason, leave immediately.

Sometimes a bad interview can be like a bad date; if you aren’t comfortable, just go. Otherwise, things won’t likely get better and they may get much worse. If your interviewer is rude, combative, disrespectful, or seems inclined to poke holes in your background or question your motives or integrity, simply state that you don’t see a future together, say thank you, and leave. Don’t wait for permission. This type of interaction almost never ends in a long and productive employment tenure. You haven’t given or implied any promises yet, and you don’t owe the interviewer another moment of your time.

If you’re on the fence, clear the air before you make a decision.

If your interviewer says something that seems ambiguous or hard to interpret, just ask for clarification. If he says something that implies that the business doesn’t share your values, ask him to explain the statement. If she says something that indicates the job isn’t what was advertised, or the terms of the position or the business model don’t work for you, don’t just run out the door—you might be losing out on an opportunity because of a simple misunderstanding. Get the truth. Then pause for at least five full seconds (literally count them—this will give your employer time to think and react as well). Then you can go.

If you don’t want the job, save yourself some time and trouble and head for the door. But do so politely and professionally, and you’ll walk out with no regrets. Turn to the experts at PSU for guidance.

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