It’s happened to the best of us: you’re applying for jobs and, naturally, there are some you’re more excited about than others. You’re waiting to hear back from a position you’re excited about, but instead, you get a call for an interview for one of those less exciting opportunities. Whether it initially seemed promising but you’ve found that you’ve changed your mind about the position you’re looking for, or whether it doesn’t offer the exact salary or benefits you want, pause before you pick up the phone or set your hands to the keyboard to cancel—consider going on the interview anyway.
No amount of advice can prepare you for an interview like a live one can. As with other skills, practice makes perfect, and interviewing is no exception. You don’t want that interview that you’re really holding out for to be your first of the job search—you want to brush up first. Just like your resume, your interviewing skills need to be revised and polished before walking into your possible dream job, and using interviews you aren’t quite as interested in as practice is an effective way of doing that. Interviews are also a great way of learning about what’s going on in the industry and what employers find most attractive in a candidate.
However, every time you go on an interview, you should get into the mindset that it’s the interview for your dream job. You don’t want to seem insincere or do any less than your best. More importantly, you don’t want to come off as disinterested or above the position because a negative attitude will waste both your time and the employer’s. Should you go into the interview with anything but a professional and positive outlook, you may miss out on a job that’s an unexpectedly perfect fit for you. It could turn out that the position was misrepresented in the job posting or that the company’s culture is exactly what you’re looking for. So keep your mind open to the position; not only can you polish your interviewing prowess and learn something, you can also find that the job may very well be better suited to you than you thought.
Should the position not be what you’re looking for after all, you can still walk away with new connections. Making a good impression can earn you some new contacts in your field for future opportunities and networking. You never know when a position you’d enjoy might be available in the future, and should you make a good impression, you can earn yourself a recommendation or even another interview. At the very least, you can add the people you spoke with on LinkedIn.
It’s also important to remember that making a good impression is imperative whether you think your interviewer can help you in the future or not. Word gets around in today’s job market; just as a good interviewee can land a future opportunity, a bad one or a no-show can almost guarantee a closed door. The hiring manager you speak with at your interview could very well turn up at another company you apply to in the future and will be likely to remember—and pass on—a bad experience with you. Likewise, should you impress your interviewer, you can develop a good reputation in your industry. Remember: interviews not only show the employer what the candidate has to offer. They are also vital learning tools for the candidate, themselves.