We are always baffled when candidates refuse an interview for a job opportunity in their field. It clearly demonstrates one’s shortsightedness and lack of understanding of the power of networking. Unless the job description is completely unrelated to what you do or the client’s industry is in direct conflict with your personal values (e.g.: meat packing company if you are a vegan or an arms manufacturer if you are a peace activist), why refuse an opportunity to meet with other professionals in your field?
An interview is an opportunity to make powerful connections in your area of specialty, regardless of whether you are offered the position or if you end up accepting it. We live in a world where networking and connections lie at the heart of most opportunities. If the job opening in question is not a fit, who is to say that the Vice President you meet (and potentially impress) cannot recommend you for another opening, perhaps even at a different firm?
At the same time, you cannot discount the importance a company’s “cultural fit” plays in deciding whether or not a job opportunity is one for you to consider. I have had candidates read a job description and be beyond enthusiastic about meeting the client, only to call me back after the interview to say that there was no chemistry whatsoever. On the other hand, I have had candidates who were lackluster about meeting with a client, only to call me after the interview raving how much they loved everything about the company and how much they now want the job. So, unless you are thoroughly familiar with the company interested in meeting with you, you simply do not know if the opportunity presented to you will be a fit until you go for the meeting.
Interestingly enough, I am yet to come across a senior-level candidate who would refuse an interview opportunity. When I am filling a high-level mandate, potential contenders for the position rarely even care about the job description prior to confirming the meeting. Of course, they read it to prepare for the interview, but it is hardly the determining factor in their desire to meet with the client. They understand that any opportunity for a one-on-one meeting is golden, and seize it.
So, what does it mean when someone refuses an interview? Is it a lack of maturity and business savvy? Is it really surprising shortsightedness and a simply passive attitude? Considering that we strive to represent the best of the best, to us it means that we would rather focus our efforts on candidates who are proactive, eager and determined. If you are looking for a job, yet are unwilling to go on interviews, we cannot help you, but do wish you the best of luck in your search. You will need it.