is there any point in “courtesy interviews”?

A reader writes:

What is your opinion on “courtesy interviews”? Specifically, interviews for the sake of appeasing other stakeholders when you have no interest in the candidate?

Several of my more senior colleagues have been emailing me about applicants they are referring and encouraging me to interview them. After looking at their applications (and comparing them to other applicants), I did not feel they were a fit for the position but am feeling pressured to interview them anyway. I feel guilty as this is a waste of our time and theirs but want people to feel their recommendations are taken seriously.

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 85 comments… read them below }

  1. Lauren19*

    I’m much more likely to grant these for entry level candidates so they can gain more interview experience. I’m clear with the referrer up front. Some have only reaffirmed my doubts about their ability to do the job and others have pleasantly surprised me!

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      I utilized a policy at a former employer that any internal candidate that met X% of the qualifications would be granted a full interview. Knowing I was ready to move on but not having interviewed for about 4-5 years…I applied for a couple internal roles I barely met the qualifications for as interview practice before starting my outside job search. Even though I had ZERO interest in the first role I was surprised by how nervous and uncomfortable I was so I’m glad I did it. The company sucked in a lot of ways, this practice included – it was created because too many upper level managers were simply promoting their favorites or hiring former coworkers from other companies without giving any other employees a chance so they started this so it at least LOOKED like they weren’t doing that – so I had no guilt about using it for my needs.
      (Another policy is that they couldn’t tell your current manager until you had accepted a 2nd interview. Combined with the fact that I selected positions outside my area, it was low risk. Plus my boss was the one who suggested it since he knew I was getting screwed over by the higher ups in the company.)

  2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    If possible, it might be good to give the stakeholder a little something beyond just a “no”: other roles that might be a better fit for the person, other contacts in the industry who might be hiring, or skills that the candidate can work on.

  3. Lovey*

    I’m in an interview process right now, and I feel courtesy interviews are par for the course regarding hiring. The caveat on that, however, is that I am employed, so it’s easy to be comfortable with being a courtesy candidate (which I feel I am).

    When I was unemployed – about 8 years ago – feeling like a courtesy candidate was maddening. I hold a Ph.D., and have often wondered if that was the sole appeal to invite me so as to fill a HR roster of “You must interview ‘x’ number of candidates [since we’re a public institution].”

    Where I find the silver lining is that the LW cares enough to inquire about the situation. No need to feel guilty, although I know I’d feel caught in the middle.

    1. another Hero*

      yeah, when I was unemployed, I found the sense that they were just interviewing me as a formality bc they couldn’t just greenlight an internal candidate kind of aggravating. now that I’m interviewing from a job I’m not in a hurry to leave, I feel like hey, at least I’m learning more about how this org I might like to work in operates. but I still don’t have any real desire to put the time into interview prep to talk about a job I’m not being seriously considered for.

    2. Loulou*

      I think what you’re describing is different from a courtesy interview. Unfortunately I have been there myself, and known I was only being hired to check a box and clear the way for Anointed Internal Candidate. But that’s a bureaucracy thing, not a courtesy thing.

      1. BabyElephantWalk*

        Yes. A courtesy interview is something you’re doing for a friend or family member or networking contact. Interviewing for the numbers isn’t about courtesy.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Yes. A courtesy interview is “I know this person isn’t qualified, but I’ll interview them anyway.” Subtly different from “I don’t *care* whether this person is qualified because I’ve already decided who to hire, but I’ll interview them anyway.”

      3. Ace in the Hole (LW)*

        I agree. I think there’s an important distinction to make between a courtesy interview and a sham interview.

        I would describe a courtesy interview as one where you don’t expect to end up hiring the candidate, but you’re open to changing your mind. If they don’t look like a great fit paper but you’d be willing to make an offer IF they really impressed you in the interview – that’s what I’d call a “courtesy interview.” You’re giving them an extra chance to impress you as a courtesy.

        In contrast, interviewing someone when you’ve already made up your mind about hiring them is not a courtesy interview… there’s no courtesy involved! I would call that a sham interview. It’s not appropriate to invite someone to interview for a job they have absolutely no chance at, whether it’s because funding for the position disappeared, because another candidate has already been selected, or because the interviewee is missing a mandatory qualification. It’s a waste of the candidate’s time, money, and energy.

        I think it’s fine to invite someone for an interview without the chance of an immediate job offer, as long as you make that explicitly clear to the candidate. For example, “We’ve decided to proceed with other candidates for this particular position, but I am happy to meet with you to discuss our organization and learn more about your qualifications in case we have a future opening that might be a good fit.” Or “Unfortunately we have closed hiring for X already. However, if you would like to learn more about the industry and get feedback on your resume I am happy to schedule a mock interview for you.”

    3. MissBaudelaire*

      I’ve felt this way, too.

      I walked out knowing they had someone in mind, and it wasn’t me. It was not anyone who came in to interview. It really stung and was irritating.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I was the “courtesy interview” because they had to have at least two and they planned on hiring a current coworker already. I only found this out afterwards and felt so stoopid for trying.

        Seriously never interviewing for another job in this office again. I had enough of that.

    4. Lovey*

      Thanks, all. I should have mentioned that in the interview process I’m currently undergoing, someone did encourage me to apply and mentioned my application to the hiring committee.

      As for the rest of my original comment, sounds like I have a misunderstanding about courtesy interviews; they they typically don’t extend beyond what I describe here (friend, family, colleague, etc.).

      I appreciate the clarification!

  4. CBB*

    If it’s a waste of your time, obviously you don’t have to do it. But it’s not necessarily a waste of the candidate’s time. As a jobseeker, almost every interview I’ve ever attended has been a valuable experience, even if I wasn’t offered the job.

    1. Chairman of the Bored*

      I think it’s only fair to give a “courtesy interview” to a candidate you won’t hire if you disclose this fact to them beforehand.

      If they know there is no possibility of being hired and decide to show up anyway for the “experience” etc then fine. I expect very few candidates will opt to participate given this disclaimer.

      Interviewing somebody for a job they (unknowingly) have no chance of getting is not doing them any favors.

      1. CBB*

        Yes, good point, be transparent and let the candidate decide.

        I need all the interviewing practice I can get, and I enjoy learning about other organizations and getting to know other professionals in my field so I would happily accept the opportunity.

        1. Loulou*

          It sounds good when you put it like that, but in real life I don’t think anyone ever wants to hear “there’s no chance you’ll get this job, but we’ll talk to you as a courtesy.” Transparency is one thing, but that’s just demoralizing.

      2. MissBaudelaire*

        Agreed. There have been some interviews that were not valuable experiences and were wastes of my time. I do not look back fondly on that.

      3. Lynn Whitehat*

        But the whole point of the courtesy interview is to preserve the relationship by not rejecting them out of hand. If you tell them it’s just a courtesy, it’s the worst of both worlds. You wasted your time *and* burned the bridge.

      4. Sweet Christmas*

        If very few candidates would opt to participate given the disclaimer…I’m not sure they’re making the right decision.

        Even if you are not qualified for a role, going through the interview process can be immensely instructive. You learn what hiring managers for that kind of role are expecting; you learn the questions they are asking and the problems that are on their mind. That can help you prepare for when you are ready for that role down the line.

        I wouldn’t hold it against someone if they decided not to engage in one, but I do think it’s a missed opportunity.

        1. Again With Feeling*

          I think this is really overstating the case for doing real-life interviews as practice. It depends a lot on the role you’d be interviewing for, who the interviewer would be, the amount of time and preparation needed for the interview, etc. If I’d have to invest an amount of time, money, or effort (arrange childcare, buy a new outfit, travel some distance, complete an assignment, etc.), that may not be worth it in many cases. If it’s a pro forma phone screening with HR, probably not going to be a learning experience. On the other hand, if it’s a virtual interview with the hiring manager and I can easily fit it into my schedule, then it might be a worthwhile opportunity.

  5. Persephone Mulberry*

    There appears to be a word missing in the letter posted here (“several of my more [something?] colleagues”; the Inc. version took out the “more”) that I think adds an interesting nuance to the letter depending on what adjective goes in the blank. A more junior, or more distant from your team, colleague, might only warrant a “Jane doesn’t look like a good fit, but thanks!” but for a senior or particularly well-connected referrer I might come at it from an information-gathering perspective – not just Alison’s “do we need to interview Jane as a courtesy” but “Can you tell me more about why you referred Jane? She doesn’t quite fit our requirements on paper but I wanted to check if there’s something in her background we’re overlooking.”

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Are you possibly misreading that sentence? It says, “Several of my colleagues have been emailing me about applicants they are referring and encouraging me to interview them.”

      1. Madame X*

        The 2nd paragraph starts with “Several of my more colleagues have been emailing me …”‘

        It does read like a word (senior?) is missing.

    2. Reba*

      The missing word is “senior”!
      “Several of my more _senior_ colleagues have been emailing me…”

      Which helps explain why polite questioning and possibly humoring them is on the table.

    3. Found the original*

      I found the link to the original letter! I’ll add it as a reply to this comment. But it is “more senior”

  6. Chairman of the Bored*

    If I am a job applicant, I strongly prefer that nobody waste my time with a “courtesy interview” for a position they have no intention of hiring me for.

    Respect your applicants’ time enough to tell the people making referrals that their candidate isn’t in the running. This might be a bit awkward or create friction with those people; managing this comes with the territory of being a hiring manager.

    Don’t give an applicant false hope and have them clear their schedule for an interview you’re only doing to make a colleague feel better.

    1. JM60*

      I very much agree. I hate the interview process as an interviewee, and would rather not be interviewed unless I have a shot at a job.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      This is not a universal sentiment, though. I have to occasionally do courtesy interviews and, despite being clear that we do not have open positions, some people do want to do a courtesy interview for practice or to learn more about the organization/industry/job. (These are usually referrals from higher-up and, as long as I’m not required to hire unfit people, I will offer the courtesy interview, if the interviewee still wants to do it.) If there is anyone who might be a good fit for future positions, we will keep their resume in the call-first file, and I have followed up with/hired courtesy interview candidates.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        And if you’re being transparent about that with the candidate, that’s totally fine. There are places I would love the opportunity to interview with that way, knowing that there wasn’t really a job for me.

        It’s not telling the candidate that’s the problem.

      2. tamarack & fireweed*

        Yeah, there was a time in my professional life where an opportunity would have been … not unwelcome at least, to find out what a job interview is like and what employers such as the one granting me the interview are looking for when they interview candidates. If someone had said “so-and-so referred you, and I don’t have an open position but so-and-so said you’re changing jobs and I’m generally sometimes hiring candidates on positions like the one you’re interested in, so if you want to talk I’d be happy to have a half-hour call with you” … I’d probably still hoped I could cultivate the person as a future opportunity, or even that I might dazzle them with my superior skills profile (cough). And maybe if the stark truth had been clear to me that the chances of getting hired there were actually 0.0%, and not just low, I’d have been discouraged. But it would still have been a useful thing to do in the longer run.

    3. Rayray*

      I agree, it’s not really fair to get my hopes up so you can keep appearances.

      On the other hand, I do see value in taking to candidates who don’t have a perfect resume, it’s hard to really sell yourself on a sheet of paper while also maintaining the conventions that surround resumes.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        I can agree there’s a difference between “I’m not going to hire this candidate, no cuts no buts no coconuts, but Higher Up is gonna get ornery about it.” and “Hmmm, given this resume, I’m not sure this candidate is a good fit.”

        The latter is part of interviewing. Finding out more! The former is just lip service to someone else.

        1. tamarack & fireweed*

          There’s probably a whole continuum in-between.

          I guess my cut-off point is that the interviewer should get some utility out of it AND think that there’s value in the whole thing for the candidate too. Maybe they want to keep their eyes open on some particular candidate pool. Maybe they are committed to a certain time effort dedicated to mentoring and that’s what they’re doing (and open about it). Maybe it is some sort of “it doesn’t hurt to talk” situation, which is quite common in the tech industry.

  7. Roscoe*

    I think a big thing, which Alison mentioned, is giving a well thought out explanation to WHY you won’t even talk to them.

    I have to admit, if I were to refer someone (actually refer, not just pass along their resume) that I thought was a good fit, and they didn’t even get a phone interview AND I got no feedback, I’d be annoyed. In fact, it has happened at my company and I’m far less likely to refer someone now.

    I think it also depends on the caliber of candidates. I’m not naive enough to think that every candidate someone refers is a good one. But, assuming they meet the general qualifications for the job and have no immediate red flags, I think it is a good thing to keep the peace.

    1. Reba*

      Yeah, there’s a difference between a referral that is based on the referee knowing the needs of the role and believing a candidate would be great for concrete reasons, and a referral that is based on “hey my buddy is looking for a job.” And the person in the LW’s position can have a hard time knowing if the the emails and nudges are one kind or the other, and hiring is already time-consuming! I can see how it would sour you on the process, though.

  8. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    If we can think about “courtesy interviews” as “networking opportunities” it’s a little easier to handle in the moment.

    And I second Alison’s scripts about pushing back with the referring person a bit about why the individual may or may not be a good fit. It could be that the referring person would care enough NOT to have their pet get pushed through to an interview that would waste their time. And maybe this conversation will lead to better referrals.

    1. Olive Hornby*

      Yes, and they can be valuable networking opportunities depending on the job. I work in a small industry where everyone knows one another, which means there are a lot of courtesy interviews going on (we know who we’re going to hire but were referred this candidate by another employee; this person reached out about the role and is notable enough to be worth meeting even though they aren’t a fit, etc.) It does, genuinely, happen that a person gets a courtesy interview for one role and then is remembered for another role that they fit more comfortably, or that the interviewer mentions that person to a friend at another company who is hiring. That said, initial interviews in my industry are generally casual, quick one-on-one coffee meetings of 30 minutes or so–this would be annoying if it were a more involved process that involved flying out/doing an assignment/etc.

  9. Allornone*

    As an applicant, I wouldn’t want to waste my time, energy, and emotional bandwidth (hope) on a courtesy interview. I can see why they can be helpful, as the more interview experience the better (I used to be absolutely dreadful during interviews), but in the end, I just don’t think it’s worth it. I honestly became a better interviewer just reading this site. I would hate to take off work or otherwise clear my schedule, get my hopes up, spend time preparing, potentially spend time and gas driving, etc., when the only potential benefit to me is something I can get reading a few posts on Ask a Manager. I don’t know. Maybe if they told me upfront it’d be a courtesy interview, I’d be open because I’d understand the actual stakes, and be appreciative that they’d take their time for that, but interviewing for a job I think I got a shot at when there’s a snowball’s chance in hell? Thank you, no.

    1. Rayray*


      Especially if this is an unemployed person. Unemployment is so draining and it’s so discouraging to get dragged around. People are defeated and don’t need to have opportunities dangled in front of them just so a company can fill a quota or so the manager can maintain appearances.

    2. MissBaudelaire*

      Exactly. It’s fine if it’s a courtesy interview, as long as that’s said up front. Let me decide if I need the experience interviewing, or if I just want to know more about the organization, or whatever. Because if I already have a job, I’m not wasting my precious off time rushing to an interview for a job I’m not getting that. That’s how I value my time.

  10. Hippo-nony-potomus*

    I’m unclear on exactly what they are asking for. There are differences between informational interviews, phone screens, full panel interviews, and, sometimes, flying someone out to HQ to interview with the team there. The further along that chain you go, the worse of an idea it is to do it as a courtesy.

    I would be upfront with my colleagues: the person doesn’t have the requisite experience/isn’t a competitive candidate. I’m willing to do an informational interview to give that person insight into the org, the types of backgrounds we want for this position, etc., but am not going to put them into the pool of candidates when there’s no way they are getting hired. Usually, it’s best to soft-pedal work interactions, but in these situations, being upfront often eases the pressure. The bone is the informational interview.

  11. YesItIs*

    The worst courtesy interview I ever did was at the request of another dept manager whose dept was going through reorg and a long time employee was being let go. He had absolutely no experience remotely related to the position(s) and I was upfront about that after seeing his resume .I told the manager from the start that I already had two final candidates for the positions, but they asked me to interview him anyway. It was sad – he spent the interview talking about how desperate he was to get the job. It was all I could do to not give him a hug.

  12. HR*

    Purely speculation, but there are indicators here.

    This reads like departmental leaders begging their HR to have a candidate “jump the line” due to HR processes being too slow or disqualifying good candidates due to personality tests or something to that effect.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I’m curious what indicators you see. The LW says that the applications did not make the applicants looks like good fits for the positions.

      (Honestly curious, I’m not challenging you)

    2. Junior Assistant Peon*

      Non-technical people do a rotten job of narrowing down a list of resumes for a position where they don’t understand what any of the words in the job description mean.

  13. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    IMWO, if you’d consider hiring the candidate in the future for a different position, then it’s not just a courtesy interview.

  14. Ann O'Nemity*

    Wouldn’t it be better to just offer a transparent informational meeting with the applicant? Especially internal candidates. Like, “Wakeen, thank you for your interest in the position. We’re looking for someone with X skills, but I would be happy to meet with you to discuss other opportunities in our office or discuss steps needed to advance to the next level.”

  15. AJ*

    I was given a courtesy interview when I was starting out in my career. The company my dad worked for had an opening in an area I was trying to pivot my infant career to (this did not report up into my dad). I was killing it in the first few rounds but the final round was with the hiring manager’s boss who was my dad’s peer. It was an incredibly strange interview, lasted 10 minutes, barely any questions. When I got the rejection, it was the highest acknowledgment of my skills and experience I’d ever received almost making me wonder why I hadn’t received the job. I didn’t know then but my dad knew it as soon as I told him about that final interview – politics were a strong factor in my candidacy for the role. If something like this happened today, now that I’m constantly working through politics, it would probably roll off me. But being where I was in my career, this really hurt and I wish they had just told me it wasn’t going to work right after the phone interview.

  16. Funbud*

    I went on one of these interviews. A former co-worker, “Tad”, called me about a job opening at his current place of employment. He and I had met socially once or twice outside of work and I regarded him as friendly, if not really a friend. I was working a temp job (that later became permanent) and someone must have told him I was available; I don’t recall telling him this directly. An interview was arranged and I went. Small but growing company. Turns out Tad was the “golden boy” of the place, working directly with the CEO who had founded the firm. I met first with a manager who seemed positive about me, although he struck me as inexperienced at interviewing. The office was in a converted factory building and not the most soundproof (think a loft situation). After he left the interview room, I could hear him excitedly describing me and my resume to another person. I thought “This sounds positive!” The other person turned out to the CEO, who interviewed me next. She proved to be considerably less enthused. She started off with “The only reason you are here is because of Tad’s recommendation…” (Um…does my resume and years of experience count?). She asked some perfunctory questions and described the role and workplace in mostly negative (or at least non-enthusiastic) terms, as if trying to discourage my interest. Very odd interview. I thanked her and left. I heard nothing further until Tad phoned me about two weeks later and said they had decided not to proceed with the position. I always wondered what the whole thing was about. Was there actually no open role but they interviewed me to appease Tad as he was a prized employee? (He was on the pompous side and I could imagine him trying to impress by getting interviews for friends). Or were he and the CEO not aligned on what they wanted the role to be? Either way, I was clearly not what she envisioned in the job. The company closed a couple of years later. After that, I ran into Tad once at a bar and he all but ignored me. I sent him a friend request on FB and he never responded. Oh well.

  17. Sal*

    I had an old boss who used to provide “courtesy” interviews to people recommended by former employees–like, to be polite to the old employee who had referred the person. This courtesy consisted, usually, of the candidate *flying in for the interview on their own dime on very short (~1 week) notice.* The candidates had no idea that these were courtesy interviews; as far as they knew, they were graduate students seeking and in the running for entry-level but competitive and prestigious positions (and were possibly passing up other short-notice interviews with other people hiring at the same time…okay, I’ll come clean–it was federal judges hiring clerks when the hiring took place on a set calendar). The city we were located in was not served by train lines, so folks were either driving or flying (and mostly the latter). I found it appalling but was not in a position to push back.

      1. Sal*

        All interviews. I had done the same thing for the judge the year before to get my clerkship, but at least I got it. Hell, at least I was actually being considered!

    1. Hippo-nony-potomus*

      The legal profession would be a better place if federal clerkships required at least five years of experience, mainly so that the clerks would have enough of a clue to push back on this nonsense.

  18. Chuck*

    I can only speak for myself but I only want to participate in interviews where I’m a serious candidate. I’ve had too many of these processes drag on for months (six months in both my last cases) only to get the no at the end. But at least in both those cases I knew I was a serious contender and came in second place. Interviewers please don’t waste our time anymore than you already have to.

  19. criwrewr*

    My company repeatedly encourages us to refer candidates, yet a common complaint from those who do is “I referred this really great person & they weren’t even given a phone screen or interview. What’s the point of referring good people?”. Not sure how HR could better handle these situations where they don’t want to have to justify why each referral wasn’t interviewed, but when referrals *seem* to just go into a void, it’s understandable that people would become more & more reluctant to refer folks.

  20. Sunflower*

    Don’t interview if you have no intension of hiring them. For me, it’s heartbreaking to get rejected or ghosted. If there were better candidates, at least there was a chance. Maybe it won’t work out with the first choice and they’ll call me later. But don’t make me get my hopes up when there is zero chance.

  21. New Mom*

    My first instinct was a “no” for curtesy interviews but then I thought back to when positions have opened up at my company and internal applicants were not even interviewed and that was received pretty poorly by the internal applicants and others that worked with them. If it’s a delusional application like an entry-level person applying for a C Suite role that requires experience they don’t have, then its okay to skip but when it’s a personal applying for a lateral role or one level up at their company, I think the curtesy interview should happen. And this is coming from someone who REALLY hates unnecessary meetings.

    1. Office Lobster DJ*

      Agreed. Interview all your reasonably credible internal candidates. All of them. If you can’t bring yourself to interview, at the very least let them know it’s not going to be a fit this time but you’d like to talk with them about their development, if they’re interested. Have someone else in their reporting chain do it if it makes more sense, but don’t leave the employee to stew over it, wondering what kind of visibility, support, or future with the company they actually have.

  22. Elena Drake*

    I absolutely abhor courtesy interviews. I’ve been on them when I’ve been the only internal candidate (and of course, passed over), and as the outside interviewee needed to make numbers happen. They’re infuriating.

  23. Annie J*

    I think when it comes to courtesy interviews, if a candidate does very well but there is no possibility of them getting the job, HR should advise that The candidates resume will be kept on file and they will be contacted if any similar vacancies appear in the company, and then they should follow through with that.
    I think it would reduce hard feelings all round and if a candidate presents themselves very well, why not retain the details for the future and from the candidates perspective, they would have their foot in the door and would possibly be able to bypass the filtering stage.

    1. Khatul Madame*

      “We’ll keep your resume on file” is literally included in every rejection email ever sent, and by now most job applicants understand what this means, which is exactly nothing. Most companies use some kind of candidate management software. All resumes are on file and can theoretically be retrieved later, even much later. But the prevailing MO is to just look at the submissions for a particular job posting.
      To actually follow through… it’s not realistic for recruiters or hiring managers to manage the candidate’s job search. If a candidate made a strong, lasting impression AND I have a new position where they would fit, I might ask the recruiter to reach out and invite them to throw their hat in the ring. However, there are no guarantees in the hiring process and if the candidate is rejected for the second time, they may feel worse than if they applied to the second job themselves.

  24. Esmeralda*

    OMG, I haaaaaaattttttteeeee these!

    Such a waste of time

    I am very upfront w the hiring officer when I’m asked to chair a search committee. I make sure we are on the same page as to what we’re looking for. I emphasize that the committee is independent (that’s the standard in my dept, academic-adjacent at large state research u), thus we will phone screen and then interview based on our evaluations and will recommend to the hiring officer, who does not have to follow our recommendation.

    I have let all sorts of folks asking for courtesy interviews for a candidate know that I appreciate their interest and that every candidate will get fair and equitable consideration by the committee. Everyone from lower level colleagues to the dean, I don’t care who you are. In fact, I shield my committee from these requests. No courtesy interviews.

    I have a reputation for running fair, equitable, efficient, squeaky clean, and leak-free searches that produce a good slate of possible hires. I’ve had hiring officers tell me not to interview a candidate — I point out that they don’t have to hire anyone we recommend, but that the committee used the criteria established by the hiring officer and that we will be interviewing that person. I’ve had hiring officers pressure me to courtesy interview. Not doing it. I’ve had a couple hiring officers then bad mouth me around campus for it.

    I’m still here. They are not. And I still get asked to chair search committees. So.

  25. Weird spelling*

    I was given what I’ve always felt was a courtesy interview and ended up getting the job.

    My former co-worker (now a broadcaster of 50 years) had called the hiring manager on my behalf; they were acquaintances. In the beginning, the interviewer actually said, “I have someone else in mind for the job, but decided I should visit with you since X recommended you.”

    I got the job and worked there for four years.

  26. Annie*

    From the perspective of the job seeker: When I was new to the job world, I once got a courtesy interview for a job that I applied to and thought I was qualified for (I did, in fact, have the requirements in the posting). I got a call to interview from HR and went in person to sit with the HR person and the supervisor, who proceeded to tell me that he didn’t actually think I was a good fit for the job but that he set up the interview because he knew my dad (my dad had not reached out on my behalf). If he had called me and said, “I don’t think you’re a good fit because x,y,z, but I’d be happy to meet with you and talk about job prospects,” I would have really appreciated it. But it was pretty disheartening to think you’re going to a real interview and then be embarrassed like that. He also then proceeded to give me a bunch of bad career advice. So yeah. I say be honest but if you want to be helpful just tell them you’ll meet with them but not as an interview.

  27. Bookworm*

    As someone who I suspect has been a courtesy interviewee several times, I have to agree. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and as far as I now, the courtesy interview has never gone anywhere for me (but some appear to have had better luck!).

  28. Some Old Goat*

    I was once interviewed for a position that I appeared unqualified for. I was only interviewed because the company required all internal candidates be interviewed, as a courtesy to the applicant. Due to an interesting set of circumstances I was the perfect fit. I had many years of success in that role and built my whole career off of it.
    My manager mentioned for years (after an adult beverage or two) that she was so mad to be forced to waste her time and how lucky we were that policy was in place! I guess my point is that you never know.

  29. LondonLady*

    My other half used to work for a large public sector organisation which made it policy to interview all internal applicants and all external applicants from various under-represented groups as long as they met the basic person spec for the role, in addition to those who looked best on paper. It made for very long interview processes. Their rationale was that it was important for staff morale to give them the opportunity to be interviewed even if they weren’t in the top tier of candidates applying. In at least one case, an exceptional candidate came through that way (a late career switcher who was a high performer but with limited relevant CV) who might have been overlooked otherwise.

  30. Van Wilder*

    The worst part about these courtesy interviews is, at my company, they sometimes get hired. Because the interviews are farmed out to different managers that may not be comparing resumes with the pool or figure that HR did the screening for them. Then if they happen to have rapport with the person during the interview, I get stuck with a crappy intern.

  31. Hogwash*

    I’d say that if your company isn’t already very diverse, hiring a bunch of people because they know people who work there is a bad idea unless the applicants themselves are diverse. At my company it’s common to bring on friends from past roles and they do all tend to think alike. They’re great employees, but we have a huge diversity problem and I can’t help thinking we’d be better served by different perspectives, since we tend to run in circles sometimes.

  32. ElleKay*

    “Thanks for the recommendation Big Donor!

    In this role we’re looking for X & Y skills and Z experience. This person doesn’t have that background so they won’t be a good fit for this role but I can keep their resume on hand in case something more in-line opens up.

    If there’s a connection I’m not seeing though, please let me know!

    Best, LW”

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