my family member says it’s bad to withdraw from a hiring process even if I know I don’t want the job

A reader writes:

I had a really frustrating interview situation recently. I applied for a job based on the posted job description, which was for a generalist, with a list of maybe 10 areas of responsibility. Exactly what I’m looking for. In the past, I’ve had jobs under this umbrella where I only did one thing … and I HATED it. My cover letter lays this out plainly.

I logged on for my Zoom interview. “Tell us why you’re interested in this job.” I basically give the same elevator pitch from my cover letter. Looking for variety, want my next role to be general, not so specialized, learn more things, etc. The interviewer responds, “Okay. So this role is 100% X.” I’ve done X before, and would be miserable doing it full-time. I said politely, “That sounds pretty different from the job description.” They acknowledge this but give no explanation, and proceed with the interview.

I’m immediately so disappointed (because if the job was what they described, it would have been ideal) and angry, because it’s not easy for me to take time off from my current gig and now I have to sit through a 45-minute interview for a job that I would never have applied for if they had advertised it accurately. Then after the hiring manager interview, HR hops on. I say the same thing: “I was a little thrown off, because what they described was so different from the job description.” HR says, “Oh yeah, to be honest, we had a lot of jobs open and we didn’t have time to write a bunch of job descriptions, so we just put up a catchall posting.” (!!!)

It did occur to me to just end the interview as soon as they described the job, but I didn’t have the nerve.

Afterwards I was venting to a family member about the situation, and I said I was planning to email them that day to withdraw from consideration. He reacted really harshly and said that I can’t make myself look bad just to stick it to a bad interviewer, and that I should wait and see what they say. He also thought that if I waited for them to come back with an offer, maybe I could somehow negotiate into the job I wanted, but if I withdraw from the process, I’m giving up all my bargaining power.

This seems extremely unlikely to me. My feeling is (a) there is no way in hell I’m taking this job, so why not save them some time, and b) I think just riding the wave of the interview process for a completely different job would actually kind of weaken me as a candidate. I apply judiciously to jobs and I make it clear I’ve thought very carefully about my next move, so wouldn’t it look weird if I was just like, “Oh, you want me for a job that bears no resemblance to what I applied for and told you I’m interested in? Great!”

So … am I right about this, or is my frustration getting in the way? I have to admit, part of why I want to withdraw is because I do want to subtly make the point that they wasted my time, but I think I also have valid reasons for withdrawing immediately. Do I?

Don’t take your family member’s guidance on anything job-related, because this is weird advice and they have a slightly unhinged perspective on how this stuff works.

First of all, it’s normal to withdraw from a hiring process when you realize you wouldn’t accept the job. People do that all the time! It won’t make you look bad; it’s a perfectly normal and professional thing that routinely happens in hiring processes. Hiring managers don’t think, “What an unprofessional candidate, having the temerity not to want to pursue our job!?” They think, “Oh, too bad. Okay, thanks for telling us.” It’s far better for an employer to have you drop out at whatever point you know you wouldn’t take the job, rather than invest more time in considering you and possibly cut loose candidates who they would have kept in the pool if they’d known you weren’t interested.

Withdrawing also isn’t about “sticking it to” your interviewer … largely because it won’t do that. They’re not likely to be devastated or even realize that your withdrawal is supposed to be Making A Point. It’s a thing that happens and in most cases they’ll be pretty blasé about it.

As for waiting to get an offer and then trying to negotiate it into a completely different job, that is not typically an option. Occasionally you might find an employer that wants you so much and has currently unfilled needs that you could fill that they’re sufficiently motivated to create a new position for you, but that’s very much the exception, not the norm.

Also: it’s totally okay to end an interview early if it becomes very clear that the job isn’t for you. It doesn’t always make sense to do that — sometimes it’s smart to finish the meeting anyway, especially if you think you might want a job with them in the future (not because it’s bridge-burning to politely end the interview, but because there can be benefit to getting to know each other more as you let the conversation play out). But if it’s very clear to you that you wouldn’t accept the job, you can indeed explain that what you’re learning makes you realize the job isn’t for you. That’s especially true when the job they describe is different from the one they advertised; in cases like that, it’s fine to say, “Ah, the ad made it sound much more X. I’m really looking for Y, so it sounds like this wouldn’t be the right fit.”

As with most things job-related, you should factor in how much you need a job. But if you have options and are willing to walk away from jobs that aren’t right for you, this is fine to do.

{ 217 comments… read them below }

  1. SwampWitch85*

    For what it’s worth, I don’t accept family work advice. Most of it is at least 30 years out of date and punitive. Spot on, as always!

    1. OyHiOh*

      Same! I’ve written comments before about the horribly out of date advice I’ve received from parents/family members. Apart from siblings/cousins who are roughly the same age and in similar industries, it’s not worth going to family for advice.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I teenager is hitting the age for teenager jobs and is considering the idea. My advice for how to go about getting one was to talk with their friends who are already working. As if I know how that is done nowadays! Fortunately, the assumption of parental incompetence comes easily to the teenaged mind.

      2. Miss Chanandler Bong*

        I have an aunt that I go to for advice…but she’s still in her career. My mom doesn’t even try to give career advice because she knows it’s out of date. My dad works at this tiny law firm which I’m convinced has never functioned in the real world.

        Although half the time I just vent to my aunt about stupid people, lol.

      3. Trawna*

        I’m at the end of my working years. When I needed to job hunt recently, I only asked under 25s for advice. It was very helpful.

      4. PhyllisB*

        My kids come to me for advice because they know I read this blog and stay up to date on career things, and they also know that if I don’t know or am not sure, I will say so.
        Yes, I’ve tried to encourage them to read it for themselves, but in a way I’m glad they don’t, because if they did, I would have to quit talking about them on here!! :-)

    2. calonkat*

      When I give work advice to family, it’s referencing this blog. Nothing I learned in school or in terrible work environments is shareable (other than for laughs).

      And yeah, I’d probably also be so shocked by finding out the job described as a variety of letters was really all “X” that I’d also sit through the rest of the interview, but it’s nice to imagine that I’d have the wherewithall to announce I wasn’t interested in the job and bail.

      1. GlitsyGus*

        Same! 9 times out of ten when I’m talking to someone about their work issues I end up saying, “Have you ever heard of AAM? Because Allison answered a question about exactly this thing just yesterday/last week/last month.” I also recommend her job searching book because it was pretty much life changing for me.

    3. MigraineMonth*

      My dad held the same job for 40 years, and my mom hasn’t worked full-time since my older sister was born. My sister has a different career track in a different industry. I vent to them about frustrating aspects of my job, but they’re not good sources of career advice.

    4. Snarkus Aurelius*

      My dad heard me on a work call once, and he was horrified to hear me speaking on behalf of my boss.

      He told me I had no authority to do that, I didn’t know what I was talking about, and I was going to get fired.

      I looked at him and said, “my boss told me to do this and spokeswoman is literally in my job title.”

      He said, “it doesn’t matter. Just stick to answering phones and assisting.” He didn’t realize that wasn’t my job.

      1. Hermione*

        This makes me so mad on your behalf! (if I have the authority to be mad on your behalf)

      2. Dragon*

        Snarkus’ dad probably would have had a heart attack if he’d seen me at PastEmployer, when I told the chairperson’s EA my (traveling) boss absolutely couldn’t meet a job candidate on Tuesday at 9:00 am.

        The candidate was an executive who came directly to the attention of our head office in another state. However, he lived in my city. Head office interviewed him without first seeking intel from my field office about him.

        On top of that, head office was fast-tracking the candidate because he was soon to be unemployed. His previous firm had dissolved. I didn’t hear why, but we didn’t hire him.

    5. Nanani*

      Ding ding ding!
      Either OPs family member has no idea how anything works, or their experience is such an outlier that it’s not applicable.

    6. The Original K.*

      Yep. My retired mother hasn’t looked for a job in 35 years; she climbed the ranks at one org for 30 years before retiring (she worked a few other places before that). I don’t even tell her about job searching because her advice is … pretty useless, honestly.

    7. Beau*

      My mom likes to tell me I need to make a good impression on my coworkers my first day by bringing them cupcakes. She doesn’t tell my brother to do that and has actually never done it in her own professional career as an engineer. I don’t take career advice from her.

      1. Gloucesterina*

        Holy semi-internalized misogyny (?) Not sure what to call this situation, where the person is enacting a professional norm (not bringing cupcakes to work if that’s not your actual job; avoiding unpaid care work as a woman in the workplace) while advising the opposite.

    8. CR*

      I feel like a good 75% of questions on this site would be solved with the answer “don’t talk to family about work.”

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      My mother, who hasn’t worked full time in 34 years, doesn’t think that sexism is a problem anymore.

      She gets a very edited description of how work is going.

      1. Nomayo*

        I had to put my family on an information diet because they have no idea how things work for public sector jobs*, that it really sucks but sometimes you need to take a huge risk and go for a contract or part time to get a foot in the door at the really prestigious workplaces.

        Early in my career I listened to their bad advice and feel like I was kneecapped.

        Anyway, I took a risk and ended up in exactly the right place at exactly the right time, but after the rents went through the roof.

        *I’m in the great white north. My field is schroedinger’s field, both understaffed and in demand, but not enough for relocation bonuses to kick in. My family is very corporate private sector and gives terrible advice about jobs not offering relocation bonuses, even though most of the private sector doesn’t anymore either up here.

        1. Nomayo*

          They have finally stopped sending me job ads I am vastly overwualified for that vastly underpay for my field, which means they don’t even respect what I do because they assume my work is valued at about half of what I make, or less.

          1. Princesss Sparklepony*

            It may not be that they undervalue you but they have no idea what current salaries are. A lot of parents base their money knowledge on what they were making when they were at what they consider the same level as you…

            In 1950 I was making $200 a week and I lived like a king! Totally forgetting that you can no longer buy a nice house for $8000.

            It’s a weird sort of money blindness that happens. And why the senior often think a 10% tip is a visit from Lady Bountiful.

            As for jobs you are overqualified for, I’m guessing they have no clue what work you actually do or how offices and jobs work nowadays.

            But I’m glad they stopped sending you that stuff, I know it would set my teeth on edge for the rest of the day.

        2. Not a Dr*

          Not job hunting but my Grandfather recently started lecturing me on how not having a personal car is a good thing, you save money, walk more, not everyone had cars when he was young etc. I don’t have a personal car and work in marketing for a carsharing agency… It is literally my job to tell people the benefits of not owning a personal car. Like I am actually an expert on this. You don’t have to mansplain it to me.

          1. ferrina*

            My Grandfather once started lecturing my sister on basic tenants of Christianity… sister is a pastor and has a Masters in Theology and has been published many times in various religious peer-reviewed journals.
            I pointed this out to Grandfather and he whacked me on the shins with his cane.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              After Dad’s funeral last weekend, I was telling the current priest of my childhood parish about my book (he asked), and he got all excited to know an actual author and asked me to sign the bookmark I gave him (wth, lol). He said, “If you’re on Amazon, you’re going places!”

              He was so nice and sweet that I didn’t have the heart to disillusion him and explain that indie publishing on Amazon is not “going places.”

    10. Anon all day*

      Reading these comments make me realize how relatively lucky I am in my situation. My dad has mediocre job searching advice because he hasn’t done it in like two decades AND because he’s in sales, but fortunately he listens to me when I tell him that this advice is bunk.

      1. Antilles*

        Same. My dad is a great source of work advice in general, but he openly admits that he last job searched in 1999 (“so long ago that we [a Fortune 500 company] didn’t even have an email application process! I had to fax in my application!”) and doesn’t even attempt to make job searching suggestions.

    11. Starbuck*

      Yeah my follow up is always, ok – can you tell me when was the last time you put that into practice applying for an entry level role / any role and how it worked for you? Sometimes that works to at least get them to lay off.

      1. whingedrinking*

        I’ve got to remember that one for the next time my dad gives me job-hunting advice. His most significant position before retiring was quite high up in provincial government (think head of a major department). I’d love to ask him if he got that job by walking into the Legislative Assembly and asking to see “the boss”.

    12. L.H. Puttgrass*

      We see so many examples on here of bad work advice from from family members (gumption!). Maybe there should be a post sometime where readers can post times when they actually got good advice from a family member.

    13. Other Alice*

      The only useful work advice that my mother gave was when she told my brother not to wear cargo shorts and sandals to his first interview. I then told him to keep the nice crisp shirt, ditch the suit & tie and pointed him to the blog to fix his resume. I like to think I helped. My brother is now the only family member who understands when I complain about work, everyone else is either too old or in academia or both, and their advice is very well meaning and entirely useless.

    14. Harried HR*

      I have the reverse issue… I’m in HR and wear many hats, including HR, Benefits, Payroll, Recruiting etc. When I give advice to my kids (teen & early 20) I receive eyerolls and shrugs.

      I’ve stopped giving advice and when they learn the hard way (which they have) I just shrug back LOL

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I’ve been in corporate recruiting for 40 years, and my 27 y.o. nephew came to me for career advice after getting his degree. One evening he told me about some job-seeking advice he’d gotten, and it was so bad and out-of-touch that I said, ‘Those are all really bad ideas, and my first piece of advice is to ignore them completely. Whoever told you to do those things has no idea what it takes to get a job in this decade.’

        Turns out his father – a card-carrying member of Team Gumption – had given him the bad advice. Yes, he was present during this conversation, my nephew made sure of it. Hmm.

        1. SixTigers*

          * picks self up from under desk, to which location I slid while laughing *
          * apologizes to cat for frightening him *
          * mops up wine which spilled while laughter was happening *

    15. Carmen527*

      My dad got his first job straight out of college, sans resume, in 1968 and moved through the company for 34 years until he retired 20 years ago. He tried to offer me job seeking advice in 2020 when I was making a career transition. I point-blank asked him “When was the last time you updated your resume?” “I don’t think I’ve ever had one, actually.” “Then I’m going to listen to the job coach I hired, not you.”

    16. Not All Hares Are Quick*

      Far better to pull out as soon as you realise it’s not for you, however early that may be. Giving reasons where appropriate, of course.
      Otherwise, the inevitable boiler-plate question is going to come up ‘Why do you want this job?’ and you’ll hate yourself as you come out with the usual spiel, thinking all the time ‘But I don’t, don’t want it…’ Worst case, for obvious reasons you can’t make it sound convincing, and you get a comment ‘Seems uninterested and unengaged’ against your name, which is what they’ll see when you later apply for a job there which really is your thing.

  2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

    As an interviewer, I prefer that candidates remove themselves from the hiring process if they are no longer interested in the job. It saves me time and ensures I don’t end up turning down another qualified candidate only to have the disinterested candidate turn down an offer.

    1. Twisted Lion*

      +1000 to this. And if you change your mind before the interview that is fine too. Your time is important to you as a candidate and its important to us as interviewers because we have to coordinate scheduling. I would much rather get an email/phone call saying you are no longer interested.

    2. Susie*

      Same-I’m on an interview committee right now and we’re had two candidates turn down second round interviews. Disappointing, but as we only had a certain number of slots for second round, I’d rather know before the interview than after if they already knew they were going to decline. We were able to invite candidates to fill the slot that had just missed the cut off.

      Also, I’ve removed myself from consideration several times. Once because the hiring manager and their boss described wildly different job responsibilities. Also the hiring manager told me he hated when he was asked a specific question that I had asked. So the place seemed like a hot mess that I wanted no part in. Other times because I had been hired elsewhere.

      Hope this helps you withdraw like you want to do!

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Totally! If you know you don’t want the job, please don’t waste my time. Withdrawing when you know you don’t want the job is doing everyone involved a favor, because than we don’t waste time on candidates who aren’t going to accept. Please take yourself out of the pool guilt free!

    4. Sloanicota*

      To be fair, I’ve also had interview-ERs end the interview early when it was clear (to them) that it wasn’t a match! I said something like I was looking for growth and new opportunities, she said the position was actually more entry-level than I’d realized without a lot of room for growth and asked if it made sense to keep talking; I said probably not and we ended the call. So turnabout is fair play here. And I never figured out why that posted salary was so good if the job was as low-level as they said.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        I just ended a screening interview early -today-. The job description was sent to me about five minutes prior, and it asked for some skills I definitely do not yet have. A 30 minute interview that was over in 5. The interviewer thanked me too, and promised to keep me in mind for the future.

      2. ferrina*

        Yes! I once had an interviewer start the conversation by saying that she was really interested in my candidacy, but she was worried that the compensation might not be what I want. She gave me the compensation range, which was $15k below what I was looking for. She then asked if it made sense for us to keep talking. I said no, and thanked her for her honesty. Our conversation was over in 5 minutes.

        To this day I am so grateful to her for being upfront and saving us both a lot of time.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          It would save even more time if the salary range were posted in the actual job ad. Then we could screen ourselves out at the application stage.

    5. Rabid Child*

      Agreed. Also, having the data point that their approach to this one was incorrect (i.e. posting a general job description instead of more specific ones) could be important to someone at the org.

      I worked at a nonprofit where manager-level duties held VP titles and we would naturally get wildly overqualified applicants. When I needed to fill a slot on my team, I requested they change the public (e.g. Indeed, LinkedIn) listings to be more descriptive of the work, and we got the right pool of candidates.

  3. ThatGirl*

    In 2017 when I was job-searching I had an internal recruiter reach out to me for a job that she thought I might be a good fit for. I’m a copywriter and content editor; the title on this job was something like “technical graphic designer.” I very politely said that I really didn’t have any graphic design experience, and am not really a very technical person. She claimed it wasn’t an entirely accurate job title, and that it would be more writing-based than it seemed, and … I forget, but I thought well, if she’s interested in me maybe I should keep going. I had like three rounds of interviews with her and a hiring manager before they decided that actually, they didn’t really need a writer after all….

    and I just thought, why did we all waste our time on this. Either your job description was written poorly or you didn’t really know what you want, because I made it very clear that I was not a graphic designer. That’s one where I *should* have bowed out gracefully at the start.

    1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Wow, *three* rounds of interviews before they realised that someone without graphic design knowledge isn’t right for the job? They really barely know what they were looking for, apparently. A shame, though, that they wasted everybody’s time like that.
      And it’s *not* on you because *you* made clear that you lack the required abilities from the start and went with the process in good faith.

      1. ferrina*

        I’ve been on the other side of this as part of the hiring committee. They had no clue what they were looking for…I was about the third step in the process, and I spoke to a writer, a scientist, a non-profit advocate, and a new grad. They were all great people and I felt so bad that we were wasting their time (though I did end up offering the new grad a different position on my team- that worked out really well for both of us).

        1. Bob-White of the Glen*

          I’m on one now where the VP is very vague about what the position will be doing. I have no idea how to answer standard candidate questions because I don’t know what they will actually be donig. :(

    2. Editor, not an artist*

      I recently got one of those “invitation to apply” messages on Indeed for a “[Teapot-ology] Textbook Editor” position and thought, great! I’m looking for a proofreading/editing job. But I look at the job description and it’s all about creating teapot diagrams and graphics, with nothing about editing. It seemed very weird, so I looked at all the listings from the company and found another listing with the exact same description but the title “[Teapot-ology] Textbook Designer.” I assumed they accidentally pasted in the wrong description when posting the Editor one, so I replied back asking if the description in the listing was correct because it didn’t seem to match the title, and saying that I’d be interested to hear more if it was actually a text-editing thing. They never replied.

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      I once got pressured into applying by an agent – job said “must have (technical skill)”. I don’t have it. Told agent this. They called back and assured me that employer was willing to train in that skill.

      They lied.

      5 minutes into a very uncomfortable interview, interviewer and I agreed I wasn’t a good fit and called a halt.

      Never used that agent again.

    4. Oolie*

      I don’t understand how companies don’t see how much of their own time they’re wasting by posting bad job descriptions. My own job was posted as “Teapot Designer/Builder” and implied that they needed someone who could craft exquisite, detailed teapots from scratch, when in fact they needed someone who could pull existing teapots from stock, alter them to fit the client’s need, and crank out a zillion of them that were passable rather than perfect. I got the job because they’d interviewed unsuccessfully for months, then finally an employee I knew who understood the actual job function asked me to apply. I would never have considered myself qualified according to the posted job description, but the actual job is a perfect fit for my skill set. If they’d posted an accurate description, they’d saved themselves three months’ worth of HR and interviewers’ wasted time.

      One thing I plan to do when I leave this job is to give them an updated job description in the hopes that they’ll use it to find my successor a little more efficiently!

  4. Chelsea*

    100% – A candidate who is willing to save me time by being clear about what they want is not burning a bridge with me. I’d be glad for the honesty and would keep them in mind if a role they liked popped up down the road. Also, I’m not sure if I’ll be alone in this, but being unwilling to write a job description for a role feels like a red flag to me for this employer.

    1. Katherine*

      Agreed. You’ll attract people who wanted the wrong job, you’ll MISS people who want the job it really is, and the people you get will be prepared to interview for a completely different role. It’s a terrible practice on the company’s part.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Yes, it ultimately seems like a massive and unnecessary waste of everyone’s time.

    2. Anon anon for this*

      Also, unless it’s a brand spanking new position, there should already be a job description in place. For, you know, the people already doing/who have done the job. It would be one thing if they said they were reevaluating how they wanted that position to function, but just not wanting to bother with a job description? Yikes on bikes.

      1. Antilles*

        Agreed. There are two scenarios here:
        1.) It’s an existing role, in which case you should already have a job description. If not, you can write one very quick based on what the person who last had the job did. In this case, you’re spending a few minutes minutes now to save yourself way more time total by not screwing up early.
        2.) It’s a brand new job position – in which case, you really should have a job description so that you actually understand what you’re trying to do (both in hiring and after they start).

    3. Lysine*

      Yeah, an employer who can’t be bothered to write an actual description of the job is at least a pink flag if not a red flag. It comes across as them not really caring about attracting interested and qualified candidates for a position and if I worked there I’d be irked if we need someone who can do A, B and C, but their job posting attracts candidates who know how to X, Y, Z which means the job will remain vacant for longer or people are going to have to work harder to train this person.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        And the HR person sounded like they thought this was a totally reasonable thing to do! Like was she just glossing over it conversationally to save face, or does she really think it’s an okay practice to just throw a mishmash of job descriptions together into a single job ad?

    4. Joielle*

      Or even if they thought it would take too long to write a bunch of different job postings, at LEAST they could have explained in the one posting that they are planning to hire, e.g., three people for X, Y, and Z roles. That would have taken an additional, what, 30 seconds? Total red flag.

  5. Eldritch Office Worker*

    As a hiring manager, I WANT people to withdraw if they don’t want the job. I want to be spending my time with enthusiastic candidates. I don’t want to get to the offer stage and find out someone doesn’t want the job we’ve been discussing. If someone withdraws and applies for a different position later, they won’t be blacklisted. We’re all professionals and adults and we know circumstances change.

    Especially for something as fundamental as “I didn’t understand what the job was” (which, frankly, red flag on this company to begin with), that’s good to know! Maybe I need to rewrite the description. Maybe I’m not targeting the right audience with my recruiting methods.

    As long as you’re polite and professional and don’t leave a screaming voicemail, this is a nonissue.

    1. Nea*

      I was about to say, I’ve been outright thanked for ending an interview with “Thank you for your time, but I am not the person you are looking for.”

    2. Midwest Manager*

      This exactly!
      I once had a candidate withdraw from the process on the call to make her an offer. As in: I scheduled a time to call her to deliver the offer (and let her know that was why I wanted to talk). She picked up the phone and stated: “Thanks for calling me. I just wanted to let you know that I took another job. Good luck with your search!” I never got a chance to even extend the offer. It’s been several years since that happened, and I’m still salty about it. I did end up filling the role with a great alternative, so nothing lost there.

      Would I blacklist her if she applied to work for me again? No. She was just making a decision based on what she had in front of her and what she needed at that time. At the end of the day, we’re all adults and should act like it.

      1. Dinwar*

        “At the end of the day, we’re all adults and should act like it.”

        I think 99% of the problems that are discussed on this website would be resolved if people followed this rule.

      2. TheSockMonkey*

        But when did she know about the other offer?

        Not sure how much you can blame her if the other offer wasn’t finalized.

  6. whingedrinking*

    HR says, “Oh yeah, to be honest, we had a lot of jobs open and we didn’t have time to write a bunch of job descriptions, so we just put up a catchall posting.”
    …did anybody else have an immediate mental reaction of “Oh, you FUCKER” when they read that line?

    1. bamcheeks*

      Yeah but also— if they have a bunch of jobs open, maybe one of them is the job that OP would like? The HR person was weirdly cavalier about this!

      1. Fikly*

        Well, it sounds like they have multiple specialist jobs, or jobs doing only one type of thing, and OP wants a job doing a variety of things, so my guess would be no.

        Also – so many red flags! They have multiple job openings for jobs that don’t have existing job descriptions? They can’t be bothered to spend the time to write job postings for what is presumably a multiple week hiring process? Run away from this company.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I did, indeed. And I think that’s what is coloring OP’s view. And it shouldn’t. Take the specific reason out of it. OP, you can opt out of a first interview at any point in it for any reason. That’s what introductions are for.
      OP is conflating, “I don’t want a job that does one thing” and “these people have their head up their butts,” and that is what the relative is getting. “My entitled young relative wants to stick it to a company that has their heads up their butts.”
      First of all, with all due respect, OP, 1) they don’t give a rat’s ass about you at this point. If they respected candidates and really wanted the best, they would be more selective in their process by using correct job descriptions, requiring and remunerating appropriately specific skills; 2) your uncle reads to many “kids today are X” articles.

      1. Kella*

        “These people have their head up their butts” is most definitely a valid reason to bow out of the hiring process, on its own. Attending an interview is also an opportunity to watch for red flags about the company as a whole, and “we couldn’t be bothered to write down what we’re actually hiring for” is definitely one.

    3. Crimson*

      Yes!! Way to waste everyone’s time, including your own, because you’re going to get candidates looking for a generalist role and you don’t have one open. I don’t understand how any functioning adult could think this was ok to do. You wouldn’t put up an add for a vet if you wanted an RN, because you would only get unqualified candidates who were annoyed at you. Really how is this different?

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yup. Makes me really appreciate my HR recruiting team – one of the checkpoints in hiring is that you have reviewed the existing job description to confirm it’s consistent with what you need or that you have drafted a new one that is accurate. They will also consult with you on writing a good JD and help you identify your needs vs. wants vs. nice-to-haves and help phrase it appropriately. I literally did this last week with reposting of a position for someone who’d been promoted. I spent 10-15 minutes with them reviewing their old job description and making updates based on how the position had evolved since they started it.

      I am required to have a good, current job description on file for every position because that’s what people’s performance is measured against. If any job changes significantly, the JD has to be updated and the incumbent(s) have to sign off that they received the new one.

      The flip side of this is that because I do spend a good amount of time making sure we’re being candid and thorough about the job requirements and cutting down formal education requirements to the bare minimum and offering an experience substitution, I get really irritated by resume spammers who don’t seem to have read it. I got a resume for a fairly senior position recently where the cover letter and resume were tailored for a marketing position, and the JD didn’t say a word about marketing, promotion, advertising, or business development.

  7. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I applied for a job in my area of expertise that ended up being purely administrative with the *option* to do what was advertised after all the admin work was complete. Like I was Cinderella or something.

    By withdrawing and telling the organization why, I communicated that their job posting was misleading. They’re advertising for A but they really want B. I figured enough professionals like me will give them identical feedback such that they might be more honest about what they want. They clearly didn’t understand that an executive assistant is not a step up from an intern.

    Honestly if there’s any “sticking it to” to anyone, the organization stuck it to me and wasted my time.

    If you want an executive assistant, then advertise for one. Don’t advertise for the boss’s job and do a bait and switch. What were they thinking?!

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Heh oh goodness no. At that point, I’d been in my field for a decade and had a graduate degree in that field. I also had supervisory and budgetary experience albeit not that much.

        The position advertised was described as a mid-level director position. It ended up being an EA position for someone else, which made no sense!

        I have never been nor ever applied for an EA position in my life. You do not want me as an EA.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          I have a director-level position and am in no way qualified to be an EA. I do not have the right skillset and rely very heavily on our fabulous department admin for tasks that require them. I am fine with setting department strategy and policy, but you do not want me trying to keep track of/organize details for anyone. I am always amazed at how our admin keeps everything so organized and is always one step ahead of the management team on logistics. (The CEO tried to steal my last department admin for his EA, which you can’t really say no to, but it still pissed me off.)

      2. Nanani*

        What? It reads like Snarkus is a professional who was being treated as though their expertise and skills were equivalent to being intern.

      3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I don’t think you did. Snarkus applied for job X. Company said, “cool, when you are done doing job B, you can knock yourself out.”

      4. Kella*

        How exactly? Did Snarkus Aurelius decide what the structure of the job was? Did they cause the job description and the actual job to be mismatched?

        1. Snarkus Aurelius*

          I saw that a lot in DC: using some recent college grad to be an EA instead of actually finding a proper one!

          Stop being cheap!

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          I think the commenter was confused (as I was) by the line “They clearly didn’t understand that an executive assistant is not a step up from an intern.” That read to me like they were previously an intern and were now applying for a permanent job and didn’t see EA as a step up, but from their further comments I guess that’s not what they meant.

    1. 2020storm*

      It is typically a step up to go from intern to any permanent job title, including executive assistant! But clearly they messed up this posting :).

      1. Just Another Cog in the Machine*

        Any permanent job title is a MINIMUM of one step up from an intern (or, should be). It sounds like Snarkus Aurelius was a few/several steps beyond that, so a job that’s only one step up wouldn’t be appropriate.

    2. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Had a similar thing happen last year.
      It was a marketing specialist role, but what they really wanted and needed was a marketing admin.
      It was a great conversation, but I realized it wouldn’t be for me and I withdrew when they called me back to schedule a third interview.

  8. MsM*

    As gets said a lot around these parts, you’re interviewing the company as much as they’re interviewing you. And what they’re telling you is that at best, they’re too swamped to even make sure they’re bringing in the right candidate pool to offset the workload, and at worst, they’re fine saying one thing and then pulling a bait-and-switch on you once you’re actually there. So even if they claim they’re willing to tailor the job to something more in line with what you’re looking for, why should you trust them?

    1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      Right on. This company doesn’t feel they need to respect the time of people who are applying for a job based on the description, and the hiring process is when they’re supposed to be on their best behavior. Perhaps they treat their actual employees with even less respect.

    2. The OG Sleepless*

      Yep. If they’re making misleading job posts, and they’re getting candidates who are interested in the job based on how it sounds in the job posting, and the candidates are withdrawing because it’s not what was advertised, it serves them right.

      1. oranges*

        I think it’s fair to (professionally, obviously) reiterate the point that their lazy job posting is why you’re withdrawing yourself. In the currently job market, a good hiring manager/recruiter/HR knows how competitive talent acquisition it is right now.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I took a job before OldExjob like that. They advertised it as a customer representative role, i.e. booking appointments for a hybrid service/retail business and covering the retail receptionist one day a week. That is NOT how it played out.

      I could do NOTHING right at this job. Even my professional phone voice, which no one else has ever complained about, wasn’t good enough (apparently, I needed to sound like an easy-listening DJ). They started pushing us to do more selling after Hiring Manager told me to my face no sales would be involved. Not only that, but the receptionist took at least two or three days off per week, not one, and I couldn’t do my own job at her desk because her computer didn’t have the booking software installed and I couldn’t take service calls on her phone (different number). So more than half the time, I wasn’t even performing the actual work I was hired for!

      I ended up getting fired, but it was a mutual decision, as I was going to quit anyway. This was the job with the Coworker from Hell, who was so awful she bullied two other salespeople right out of their jobs. One started while I was there and bailed three days later.

      Anytime a job I’m interviewing for has a coverage aspect, I now ask numerous pointed questions about it.

  9. Anonym*

    From the hiring side, at least in my large, bureaucratic company, it’s hard enough just to get the job listing posted. I and my management chain aren’t willing to go through that hell a second time to completely reformat the role we’re hiring for. We designed the role in a certain way because that’s what we need. No one is magical and talented enough that we’ll… need something different.

    Now, OP’s situation is weird, because writing a catchall posting for a highly specific role makes exactly zero sense. But even if I was that hiring manager, and let’s say HR screwed me by posting a crappy req, I’m still not going to change the job I’m hiring for. I would apologize profusely to the rightly confused candidates and complain up and down internally about the HR error and try to get it corrected. But I need the role/person I need. None of it affects what my team needs to do and the skills required to do it.

    1. Anonym*

      All that to say, OP, Alison is right and your relative is wrong. Don’t listen to them. It’s incredibly rare that a company will just change a job for a candidate (especially one that they think is applying for the role as discussed during interviews), and even rarer for larger employers who can’t easily pivot. The work an organization does (and their current staffing) dictates the roles that are needed to do it.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      This reminds me of the people-on-the-bus model, where to start a company you first hire a bunch of smart, highly skilled people, and then think of a thing you could do.

      1. Anonym*

        That is a very “already-funded” mode of thinking, but I’m relieved that at least there’s another possible explanation beyond a total lack of critical thinking skills.

    3. Miss Muffet*

      It seems like the hiring managers here were still a bit at fault for bringing her in when her cover letter was specific about wanting the broader experience. If that’s not what the role was, they probably had a couple of opportunities not to waste the OP’s time with an interview for what she clearly wasn’t interested in.

      1. Kella*

        Yeah, I’m surprised that the first interviewer heard what OP was looking for, informed them that the job was something very different, and then proceeded with the interview as if there was no conflict in expectations. That should’ve been a “Do you still want to proceed, given this information?” moment.

  10. ecnaseener*

    Yeah, this is like…the least “controversial” reason I can imagine for withdrawing from a process! It’s not like you decided the hiring manager was annoying or the company was unimpressive or anything else “personal,” you just do not want to do the type of work they’re hiring for. Downright boring!

    1. Nanani*

      Yes! And the interviewer confirmed that the job listing was inaccurate! So it’s not like there’s even a possibility of misunderstandings, it’s really not the job OP wants.
      Withdrawing is the normal move here.

    2. londonedit*

      Yep. No one would bat an eyelid at someone saying ‘Thank you for your time yesterday; on reflection I don’t think the role is a good match for my skills and my career ambitions, so I’d like to withdraw my application at this point’. 100% normal and sensible! In fact it’s the opposite of making yourself look bad – it makes you look thoughtful and focused on what’s right for you. If anyone did have a problem with that, you’d know you definitely wouldn’t want to work with them anyway.

  11. Magenta Sky*

    Having you go through a lengthy, multiple interview process when they know from the first one they won’t be hiring you isn’t something the company would do, and it would be an insulting waste of your time (and theirs) if they did.

    There’s really no aspect of the interview that doesn’t apply equally in both directions.

  12. anonymous73*

    Your family member is being ridiculous. If you’re not interested, withdraw immediately. Reasonable people will appreciate you not wasting anymore of their time if you don’t want the job. Of course these don’t sound like reasonable people, but that’s not your problem. And please don’t be nervous or scared to end an interview early if you’re 100% sure it isn’t something you want to pursue. I’ve had someone do that, and appreciated him not wasting our time. We also had a candidate withdraw for that same role, and we liked him so much my manager found him a different role that was better suited to what he wanted.

  13. BA*

    I wouldn’t consider withdrawing “sticking it to” anyone. Especially because you spoke to HR and indicated that the job description didn’t match what was advertised, I don’t think anyone will be surprised or feel as though you’re doing something to just prove a point. Better to politely withdraw than to waste your time and theirs.

  14. Falling Diphthong*

    We didn’t have time to write a bunch of job descriptions, so we just put up a catchall posting.

    This is so bizarre. Like, so bizarre that I think it’s actually literally true, and someone was having a tough week and decided to just write one job ad about a teapot glazing llama herder with extensive experience in contract law who speaks Greek. And everyone else in the company is just rolling with it, and as applications come in debate “You know, this one seems like it should go to the opening in the Greek translation department” and at no point does it occur to someone that they would cast a much wider net if they didn’t list a bunch of stuff as essential that is in fact nonexistent.

    Someone, somewhere, is convinced that this simplified things.

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      We don’t have time to write a bunch of job descriptions, so instead we just decided to interview a bunch of applicants who aren’t interested in the jobs we’ve posted.

      1. Jerusha*

        Even worse – you’re interviewing a bunch of people who _are_ interested in the job you’ve posted; however, the job you’ve posted bears no resemblance to the job you’re actually hiring for. [Meanwhile, people who would be interested in the job you’re actually hiring for are probably not applying because the job described is outside their qualifications or something they don’t want to do. You’re really batting 0.000 here!]

      2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

        Or just as bad, as we hire and whittle down the things we actually need, now we have to weed through dozens of llama herder resumes, when we no longer need llama herders. Meanwhile all the teapot glazers are like: “Whelp, I don’t know Greek, so I’ll pass on that job”. It’s a crazy way to hire.

    2. Anonym*

      Right?! I’m disturbed to think about the person who is satisfied with this decision. It is awe-inspiringly bass-ackward and shows an alarming cluelessness about the fundamentals of hiring.

      “We want candidates who are both ill-suited for and uninterested in the actual role. Thus, we will be able to hire someone that will either fail or leave as quickly as possible. Great success!”

    3. Mockingjay*

      …a catchall posting.

      Translation: we don’t know what we want. Maybe we’ll get a unicorn candidate to figure it out for us.

      OP, I agree with other commenters that this company would not be a good place to work. I withdrew my application from a similar job, in which they advertised for someone senior level doing a variety of projects, but the interview revealed that it was a rote, mid-level grind of a position. Ignore your relative.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        That’s kind of what happened with my job. They posted a position that was not super exciting to me but well within my wheelhouse, and I was desperately looking to move so it seemed like a good foot in the door. Turns out what they ACTUALLY wanted was something I was uniquely qualified to do, and I was the only candidate that lived up to that expectation. Probably would have had more competition if they posted a more realistic job description!

    4. Jaydee*

      I think it’s probably more a matter of the fact that they needed a llama groomer who specializes in bouffant and beehive styles, a vicuña groomer who can do high tops and fades, a llama groomer who specializes in foot care and can do mani pedis, and an alpaca groomer who does balayage dye jobs. And they were like “We can’t write separate descriptions for all of these! Just post one saying we need camelid groomers with experience in bouffants, beehives, high tops, fades, balayage, and foot care.” LW saw that and thought “great! I don’t love doing mani pedis, but if that’s only like 25% of the job and I get to do all those cool styles, that would be amazing.” And then at the interview they were like “yeah, we already hired for the other spots so we just need someone to do all the mani pedis.”

    5. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I’ll say it again, not just someone, but everyone there has their heads up their butts.
      I know in my company, if an opening is not posted by X date after being approved to hire, they will lose the position. BUT the position was justified by the department BY PROVIDING a clear job description.
      Manager completes a form:
      Llama Grooming Specialist. Llama grooming experience to provide brushing and braiding. Familiar with Llama Brush 2000 or similar tool. Salary range, hours, branch location.
      That gets combined with corporate hiring contact info and published.
      So this company could hire twice as many people as they need, or half as many or not one person that they can really use, because they are sweeping for warm bodies. It’s a bag of bees up in there.

    6. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, this seems like the absolutely worst way they could do it. The candidates who actually apply may be as disappointed as OP to find the job is not as general as they though, meanwhile there are probably a bunch of great candidates for the jobs they actually have that are passing on applying thinking they don’t have the right experience because they can do A, B and C but have never done X, Y or Z!

  15. soontoberetired*

    Didn’t have time to update the job description? That’s a lame excuse, and tells you a lot about the company right there. 35 years ago when I was looking for my first job in my new career, I withdrew myself from consideration from a couple of jobs with total support from my parents who had been supporting me thru my career change. You know bad when you see bad. I found out later I really made the right choice not continuing.

    I have steered family members and friends with young adult children to this blog just because so many of them have no clue what the norms are now.

    1. Anonym*

      Yeah, it doesn’t take that long to write a description that’s mediocre but reasonably accurate. I don’t want to work for the people who would rather save those 20 minutes than get any candidates who actually want the job.

      1. KRM*

        It’s mind boggling that they can’t take 5′ to reword to say “we’re hiring for positions in teapot glazing, Greek teapot curation, and teapot law” instead of what they have, which is apparently just saying “we’re hiring someone who can do teapot glazing, Greek teapot curation, and teapot law.” Minor wording change, yet so so different! But so easy to do!
        LW, withdraw your application with a light heart. Feel free to say “after speaking with X it became clear that you’re looking more for specialists instead of generalists, and I am really looking for a generalist position. Best of luck filling your open positions!” so that maybe they think a little bit about what they posted vs who they’re getting (with any luck others are doing the same thing), but it won’t be your issue anymore!

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Yup. I don’t want to work at a company too lazy to explain what they actually need.

      It suggests that they might not actually know.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        They probably know that they have to replace Amalasuntha, and she was kind of a jill of all trades. So they need a clone of a Amalasuntha. Never mind that Amalasuntha quit because she was sick of being a jill of all trades. Just like Zenaida, Quentin, Bathilda….

        1. Metadata minion*

          But it sounds like the LW *wants* to be a generalist who does lots of different stuff and they’re actually hiring several specialists.

  16. AnonForThis*

    Ouch, were you supposed to do more interviews with the team today?

    Seriously, yesterday we just had a candidate cancel for interviews today. I looked over the job description and in horror I saw that it’s… not accurate. At all. I had a memory of something like this happening before, to the effect of that it’s too hard to get new job descriptions approved by HR so they use the closest ones in the system. (Considering how awful our recruitment wing of HR is, I can kind of believe this.)

    It’s so far off that I’m not going to share the posting on my social media because it would be too awkward to explain the difference in the actual job vs the description.

    But yes, bow out when you know it’s not for you. No sense in going further, for either side.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      The last time our HR posted a job posting for me, they left the description field blank. Like, completely nothing. I was like “why am I getting Amazon warehouse box packers, mortgage processors, vet techs and high school seniors applying for my not-entry-level, certification required job opening??” Answer: because literally the only thing on the job posting was the title and the phrase “work from home.”

      1. Jerusha*

        I regret that I have only one face and two palms to give to this comment.

        I… just… how could they possibly think it counts as posting a job if they never actually say what the job is? “LlamaCorp is hiring! You can work from home!” Of course you’re getting applications from everybody who sees the ad!

  17. NotATerribleRecruiter*

    I say this as a recruiter, PLEASE remove yourself. You can be sincere and polite about it and if there is someone from talent acquisition/HR involved in the process, explain to them why. They will appreciate the feedback, if they are worth their salt, they will ask the team to write a better JD, and be very thankful that you didn’t waste your time and the team’s time. Scheduling interviews is a huge time commitment. Absolutely necessary to hire good people but not if those people know they don’t want the job.

    1. Esmeralda*

      One of my colleagues is looking for jobs. They just withdrew from a search, because realized at the interview that it didn’t match their expectations. The interview was helpful to make this clear to both my colleague and the interviewer, and the two of them discussed this fact.

      But the employer liked my colleague, a lot, said, hmm, we have other open roles, how about X or Y? They interviewed for Y yesterday and will be moving to another round of interviews.

  18. Bernice Clifton*

    It’s preferable to withdraw of you know that you don’t want to move forward, and it’s beneficial for them to receive feedback about their misleading job ad.

  19. Jerusha*

    I also want to comment on the phrasing your brother used, “stick it to a bad interviewer”. Nothing you’ve described makes me think that the problem was the interviewers personally (although that might be in details you elided). You’ve given no evidence that they’re bad people, and not even really that they’re bad at interviewing. They’re _colossally_ bad at writing job descriptions. But it sounds like what happened was a perfectly good interview for a job that you don’t want. And withdrawing from consideration for a job you don’t want in the first place isn’t “sticking it” to anyone! It’s saving time, effort, and energy all around!

    1. logicbutton*

      Exactly – kind of weird to characterize the problem as a “bad interviewer” when, if anything, the interviewers were right to be honest!

      1. Nanani*

        Or assumes OP does because somethingsomething kids these days something entitlement something?

          1. Danish*

            you SHOULD take any job that deigns to glance your way, just like I did, uphill both ways in the snow!

    2. Jerusha*

      Argh, just re-read the original post. I don’t know why I somehow read “brother” when you said “family member”. Oops!

  20. Willow*

    I’ve currently got 151 applicants for a single position. Please take yourself out of the running. It will only make my life easier.

  21. CoveredinBees*

    Withdrawing from the process because the job they’re hiring for doesn’t at all match the one they advertised is not sticking it to a bad interviewer. You’re not flouncing out because the interviewer chewed gum and you found that disrespectful or something like that. The job isn’t the right fit. That’s it.

  22. Decidedly Me*

    Please withdraw if you’re not interested – it saves everyone time during the process. As a hiring manager, I would be grateful that someone withdrew their application if it was a bad fit. Maybe a bit bummed if I was super excited about them (this happened to me this week actually), but it’s not a burned bridge and there are no hard feelings.

    Also – what an incredibly strange way to write a job description….

    1. Rainy*

      Yeah; I understand leaving the same job posting up for two years when you plan to hire 12-15 of that role over that time, but writing up a generic job description that encompasses each of the ten roles you plan to hire for pretty much guarantees that you are going to get 100 applications from generalists who want one role, when what you hoped for was 10 applications from specialists for 10 different roles.

      This company’s strategy is absolute bonkers.

  23. Irish Teacher.*

    Apart from anything else, for all they know, you had another offer. I was once unable to attend an interview and they said “oh, have you been offered something else?” just in a conversational way. I can’t imagine why an employer would think “oh, they are an unreliable interviewee who just wants to ‘stick it’ to us,” rather than “they got an offer from somebody else” or “they realised the post wasn’t what they are looking for.”

  24. Lady Ann*

    Flashback to the time I went to a job interview and it was for a completely different job than the one I’d applied for. I’d applied for a job working in a group home for adolescent girls and they were interviewing me for a job doing in-home work with families. They never made that clear that they were interviewing me for a totally different position and I was very inexperienced so the whole thing was just baffling and awkward. I’m pretty sure I mentioned a few times that this wasn’t the job I had applied for and they just rolled right over my concerns. If it happened to me today I would just end the interview and walk out.

    1. Nanani*

      A bait-and-switch interview would make me concerned that this is in fact an MLM or something equally sketchy, to be honest.
      Steamrolling concerns about fit really suggests another agenda is in play that is not “find someone to do this job for pay.”

      1. Lady Ann*

        My guess is the job doing home visits so so hard to recruit for that they just interviewed anyone who applied for any job who was remotely qualified for it. (Not a lot of people want to do home based jobs because of safety concerns.)

  25. Aparna*

    I’ve done this more times than I’ve actually moved forward with an interview. Usually I say, this opportunity sounds really interesting but it’s not really what I’m looking for next. I’m looking for blah, blah, blah – do you have any opportunities that are aligned with that?” Usually the recruiter says “no” or “I’m not sure but I can check with my colleges.” I will admit that it’s rare for the recruiter to pivot to another role or reach back out, but it’s happened a handful of times. I feel overall it’s a win-win regarding saving everyone time.

  26. battlesloth*

    I actually got my current job after ending an interview with them early over another job!

    I had been contacted via a recruiter so didn’t see the job description until right before the interview. About 10 minutes in, I knew that I would never accept so I politely told my interviewer that I wasn’t interested. As I told them, I didn’t want to waste their time when I didn’t feel like my skills would be suited for the role. They called back about 15 minutes later asking if I’d interview for a new role. They really appreciated my straightforwardness and refusal to bullsh*t my answers to make myself look good for a role I wasn’t best suited for.

    It’s been a really great company to work for! Been here for a year and a half now.

  27. Choggy*

    I would add not to discuss your job search with friends or family unless they are somehow related to the process. Post here instead to actually get good, and relevant, advice.

  28. learnedthehardway*

    Your relative is just wrong. It’s not “Sticking it” to someone to withdraw from an interview process when you don’t want the role. In your case it is, a) developmental feedback that the company should advertise for the kind of person they want to get, and b) NOT wasting their time or yours by further pursuing a role you have no interest in.

    Believe me, if you’re the wrong person and you know it and aren’t interested, it’s a better use of their time to find the right person, than it is to continue the process and have you reject them at the offer stage.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      ETA – it won’t make you look bad, either. That said, the one thing your relative got right is to explore whether there is an opportunity to get into a role that you DO want. For that, I think you need to talk to the HR person you met again (not the hiring manager, but the other person), and tell them what you are interested in. The HR person will have a better idea of the overall roles available. That would definitely be worth exploring. You can do it while you turn down the role for which you had interviewed.

  29. Candy Morningstar*

    That also just sounds like a nonsensical and totally useless way to advertise jobs! Several different jobs all rolled into one description? How will anyone know what job they are actually applying for or that they don’t need to be interested in ALL of the duties, since they won’t actually be doing all of them? Hopefully the company realizes real quick that this isn’t working, when all of their candidates are confused.

  30. WantonSeedStitch*

    How is saying “oh hey, I don’t think I’m interested” “sticking it to the interviewer?” I mean, does your family member also think you have to accept an offer if one is made, for a job you realize you don’t want?

    I’m currently hiring for a position that’s a bit tricky (it’s a contract job in a field where that’s uncommon), and most of the resumes I’m getting are from people whose experience sounds very different from what we do–but some of it COULD be applicable. That said, with a lot of these people, I’m not sure if they really get what the nature of the work is (in spite of the fact that we DID write a very clear job description that accurately describes the role). I’ve asked HR to phone screen some of these folks to clarify the role and see if they’re actually interested in the job as it is before I consider doing a full interview with any of them.

    1. Nanani*

      > does your family member also think you have to accept an offer if one is made, for a job you realize you don’t want?

      I would bet they either haven’t thought it through, or just think that OP in particular (because young people, or because you’re my kid and should do what I say, or whatever) needs to shut up and be grateful for whatever they get offered. But it would be totally reasonable if Family Member turned down an offer for a job they don’t want.

    2. YoYoMama*

      It’s the same thinking that some people have where if you are asked out on a date you have to go.

      That’s how you end up in a relationship you don’t want.

      Most of us outgrow that when our age still has ‘teen’ in it.

  31. Melicious*

    So… they don’t have time to write accurate job descriptions, but they apparently have time to waste on candidates who don’t have an accurate idea of what the job is? This was not thought through.

  32. Another Brick in the Wall*

    I had been unemployed for a while (older woman in a field hit hard by the recession) and needed to get something. Unemployment required me to make four job contacts per week so I was starting to look at jobs that were beyond my usual commuting range I sent my resume for a temp to perm position that seemed tailor made for me based on the job description, using the skills and knowledge from my last job. Turns out it was being handled by one of these overseas-based recruiters. I got an interview. I realized on the trip to the job site that there would be no way I could sustain the commute for any length of time. The person conducting the interview made it clear that the work would consist of only one minute part of my experience that (a) I was not good at due to a vision condition and (b) I loathed passionately. The job would never convert to permanent so no benefits were offered and the pay rate was too low without health insurance. I called the recruiter from the parking lot to tell him that I did not want this job. He would not take no for an answer so I stopped taking his calls and responding to his e-mails.
    If the job was officially offered, I would have had to take it or lose unemployment benefits. Since I would have killed myself before the end of a week working there, losing unemployment might have been preferable.

  33. Other Alice*

    Hiring managers don’t think, “What an unprofessional candidate, having the temerity not to want to pursue our job!?” They think, “Oh, too bad. Okay, thanks for telling us.”

    Counterpoint: some hiring managers do think “what an unprofessional candidate”. Some hiring managers are on a weird power trip and think candidates should be at their beck and call. This in case LW withdraws from the process and the hiring manager gets weirdly aggressive, I had that happen to me under similar circumstances where the position had been misrepresented in the job posting, so I just wanted to mention it. If the hiring manager or HR put off by you withdrawing, it’s a reflection on them not on you.

    1. Jerusha*

      Should that happen, you can take it as confirmation that you absolutely made the right decision. I mean, do you really want to work for someone who responded to “Thank you, but it doesn’t sound like I’m the candidate you’re looking for/this isn’t the job I’m looking for” by flying off the handle? Bullet. Dodged.

  34. nnn*

    The “if I withdraw from the process, I’m giving up all my bargaining power” part surprises me in particular, because surely being willing to walk away can only increase your bargaining power! (In the event that the party you are bargaining with is willing to negotiate, of course, but if they aren’t willing to negotiate you have no bargaining power regardless)

    1. Nanani*

      “Bargaining power” seems like the wrong framework for the situation altogether. This isn’t a question of negotiating pay or benefits, it’s a far more basic question of whether the job is A or B. There’s not really a bargain to be made when you came for A but only B turns out to be on the table, as opposed to coming for AB and negotiating for a different proportion of A to B.

    2. Critical Rolls*

      Also, like, what additional bargaining is there to do when you withdraw from consideration? What do you need bargaining power for when everyone has parted ways?

  35. Chilipepper Attitude*

    I just sat through an hour session from someone at my university (not a careers office person!) about the advice he gives to students about job hunting. Folks, it included the advice to use colored paper or different sized envelopes to stand out more and show you have attention to detail because employers only read resumes for 11 seconds.

    I pushed back, nicely I hope! I said that the best way to stand out is to have great content in your resume and cover letter and that colored paper could suggest that you pay attention to showy details and not content. He pushed back. “I like when I get colored paper!” he said.

    My point is that you should probably not even pay attention to career advice from people who hire people unless you know their advice works.

    1. MsM*

      I’m curious what field this even is that candidates would primarily be submitting hard copy resumes.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        That was my thought too. We don’t even accept hard-copy resumes in my office.

        1. Sea Anemone*

          It was someone at a university giving advice to students–I’m guessing it was targeted to people going to career fairs, where handing out hard copy resumes is still the norm in all fields.

      2. Chilipepper Attitude*

        He would be a university staff person. Just in an office, not in a teaching role. I think students might submit paper applications for student jobs and he does the hiring for that in his office? Maybe?
        Or he was thinking back to the paper days? Someone else pointed out to him most of it is electronic now.

    2. Nanani*

      What a great demonstration of the principle that that someone who puts “but IiiiiIIii like the gimmick” as a valid reason is demonstrating their inability and/or unwillingness to check their advice against the real world.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        Bingo Nanani!
        I even said to him, probably 90% don’t like special papers, its fine that you do, but if you are sharing that with students, it might be better to put that in context for them.

    3. Jora Malli*

      I got a resume a few weeks back that someone had decorated liberally with their memoji avatar. It stood out, but definitely not in a good way.

  36. Dinwar*

    The way I look at it, an interview is like a first date–neither group really knows much about the other, and is getting to know one another. Sometimes the date goes fantastically and you know you want to pursue this relationship (employment is a relationship, something that often gets forgotten). Sometimes you realize there’s no way it’ll work out and you part ways. The thing to remember is, BOTH parties need to be on board for the relationship to work. Ideally both parties would be enthusiastic about it. It’s perfectly reasonable for either party to say “Nope, not for me” and walk away.

    In the hiring processes I’ve helped with there was no way bowing out would have been seen as “sticking it to” anyone. We know our worth, we have a proven track record, and frankly we’re not looking for validation. We’re looking for help. I’ve seen a few people bow out–twice because they accepted a different role within the company. Once it was viewed with annoyance, because we wanted that person, blast it! But ultimately it took up very little bandwidth.

    If the hiring manager does think you’re unprofessional it’s a pretty big indication you dodged a bullet. If they have weird power-trippy habits in the hiring process they probably have weird power-trippy habits in other parts of the business. Hiring is a business decision on the part of both parties; to treat it as a personal insult (which is what this sort of behavior is) is unprofessional. I don’t know anyone applying for a job who’s only applying for one; eventually they’ll have to leave the hiring process of some business.

    As for negotiation, it’s tricky. I’ve seen it work, but only in fairly high-level positions where the person was essentially irreplaceable. For a low-level grunt or middle manager? Not gonna happen. Most companies have a very good understanding of the typical salary ranges and you’re not going to move the needle very far unless you have a very niche skillset that’s in high demand or are C-suite where such negotiations are more normal. And if you had those, you already have plenty of bargaining power.

  37. Excel-sior*

    I feel like it might be good advice if you’re currently unemployed and getting desperate. But otherwise, your instincts are absolutely correct; if you’re in a position where you can be picky then BE picky! If the jobs not what you want, if it’s something you know you’ll hate, then don’t continue interviewing for it. You’ll gain nothing from it and it’ll just continue to frustrate.

  38. Kella*

    OP, your relative doesn’t understand the difference between a consequence and a punishment. Withdrawing from the process of hiring for a job that you don’t want is a logical consequence of learning that it’s not the job you want. Getting mad at the interviewer for something that wouldn’t otherwise be a dealbreaker in the job itself and withdrawing because you want them to suffer, would be punishment. You are mad about the situation but your reason for withdrawing is still logical, regardless of the emotion you’re experiencing alongside it.

  39. Felis alwayshungryis*

    I once withdrew from a hiring process for an internal team I really wanted to work for. Everything had gone fine in the interview, but on leaving I just had a gut feeling of ‘I don’t want this’.

    So I called the hiring manager to withdraw, saying that I just wasn’t jazzed about and I didn’t want to be in contention while someone else might be anxiously waiting.

    He said I was demonstrating integrity.

  40. Hannah Lee*

    “As for waiting to get an offer and then trying to negotiate it into a completely different job, that is not typically an option. Occasionally you might find an employer that wants you so much and has currently unfilled needs that you could fill that they’re sufficiently motivated to create a new position for you, but that’s very much the exception, not the norm.”

    I have seen a variation on this play out a *handful* of times. In every case, it wasn’t that a candidate got an offer and then spun it into something else. It was a case where a candidate was clear about what they were looking for, either withdrew from the interview process in the interview or shortly after when they realized there was a mismatch.

    Afterwards, the job search team was discussing that candidate and what they had to offer, realized it would be valuable to the company and created a new opening. Sometimes that opening replaced the original one, other times it was a completely new role that the company just didn’t realize they needed until talking with that candidate. And often there wasn’t a candidate search, the manager just called the candidate and said “after we considered what you said in the interview, we decided the role you described would be valuable. Would you like to come back and talk about this new position?”

  41. Econobiker*

    Absolutely end the interview process early. In 2017, i was recruited by an independent recruiter who definitely didn’t mention salary. I got the phone interview with hiring manager for the position that had more responsibilities and time than my current position had. When the interviewer mentioned the salary at $10k less than my current was, I immediately thanked her, told her we weren’t close on salary expectations, and professionally ended the call as I did not want to waste our time.

    I later gave the recruiter an earful even though he claimed that he’d told me the salary. Nope, I wouldn’t have even considered the position at $10k less so why would I have interviewed for it?

  42. Eshrai*

    I had a job do that to me, only I didn’t find out until I started the new job. Gave the same reason too, saying it was easier to advertise all possible jobs. In my case though, they straight up lied about the job duties of during the ok nteevoew too. Thought I would be doing accounting work, ended up being driving a large vehicle mostly, with cop in tow! I have driving anxiety and never would have quit my other job had I known. I ended up unemployed for months after that.

  43. GreenDoor*

    Yea…don’t take job advice from someone who totally glosses over the part where you have thought long and hard about what you want to do and how this job is not it.

    At my job, there is a temptation to “build out” job descriptions for roles to make them sound like there will be variety to the workload. But guess what, the person who takes the job soon finds out that it’s actually a one-duty and one-duty-only role and they get sick of it and quit.

    You are not wrong for wanting to withdraw and no, it won’t make you look bad. I might even tactfully specify that you’re withdrawing because the actual job duties are the exact opposite of the job description. I don’t know the job market in your area, but I might even say that I felt tricked.

    1. Nanani*

      Honestly, your job would be better off being honest about the one duty role to -find someone who wants to do that duty- instead of trying to downplay the duty.
      There may be fewer people who want to do an all A role, but they’ll be actually interested and stick around longer than someone who wanted ABC and leaves to get more B and C.

      1. Dinwar*

        I think part of the problem is that there’s a stigma against wanting a steady job without wanting to climb as high as you can in the corporate ladder. Everyone is expected to be a go-getter and want to be leadership material–both on the part of hiring managers and on the part of interviewees. Very, very few people are willing to say “I want a 9-5 job that doesn’t stress me out too much.” (Those who are willing to do so tend to end up in government, at least in my experience.)

        I do see the trend changing. There are more and more people willing to take on less-glamourous work that also has less stress. But for now, hiring managers want to make every position look dynamic and exciting with ample room for promotions, and applicants primarily want to apply for such roles.

        1. Nanani*

          100% true observation.
          But anyone in a position to be picky should absolutely do that and try get the kind of job they actually want.

        2. Mizzmarymack*

          As someone at a major transit agency, we need 2,000 bus drivers today, tomorrow, next week, and next year. They have to show up on time, pretty much every time, safely drive a huge metal thing, and interact with the public. There are a lot of bus drivers to every supervisor, so there aren’t many opportunities for advancement, no matter what internal propaganda says. (The professional/administrative side is a similar situation)

          We’ve tried to solve this with good pay, health insurance, and a pension. Because we need people who are going to show up every day and do the job. It’s not glamorous, but it needs to be done.

          I’d rather see positions like this honestly advertised and fairly paid, rather than acting like it’s something it’s not and a stepping stone to a “better” job. Sometimes you need the work done, and you should just pay someone to do it.

  44. Lobsterman*

    OP, the only thing you’ve learned is that this particular human isn’t a good person to vent to. Which is fine.

  45. El l*

    “He reacted really harshly and said that I can’t make myself look bad just to stick it to a bad interviewer…”

    No, when the interviewer said, “The job is 100% x”, that’s a clear, direct, and factual statement that you should take to the bank. As importantly, make you look bad? Hiring managers aren’t going to somehow blacklist you through the industry just because you said, “After talking, this job isn’t what I want, so I won’t waste any more of anyone’s time. Thanks!” C’mon.

    “…maybe I could somehow negotiate into the job I wanted, but if I withdraw from the process, I’m giving up all my bargaining power.”

    Why bargain for something you assign 0 value to? It’d be like me – who lives in a city, in a condo – going in to a farm implement dealer and trying to negotiate the sale of a tractor.

  46. University Schlep*

    I would be much more likely to hire someone for a different job later if they withdrew and stated that while they were interested in the company, the job was not a good fit than if we went through the whole process, offered them the job and they declined.

    I think it leaves a good impression that you aren’t just applying scattershot, you have an idea of what it is you are looking for and what your strengths are.

  47. Mami21*

    I once withdrew from an interview process after a few initial red flags. They set up the initial interview at a nice coffee shop and then offered me… a glass of water. The salary was described as ‘competitive’ but was in fact lower then average. And the question that really stood out to me was ‘are you the type of worker who leaves at 5, or the type who leaves when the job’s done?’ I replied honestly that I would need to leave at the set time for family commitments.
    Surprisingly, they still called me to set up a second interview and I withdrew. I now wish I’d been honest about why I was withdrawing but this was before finding AAM, so I just made an excuse about deciding I could only work part time.

    They were Terribly Surprised that I would turn down their job. It was still the mentality back then that you were trying to ‘win’ every interview, not that you had options and wanted to find the best fit, so I copped a few comments from family too, but I’m proud now that I recognised the red flags and didn’t take on something that would have left me underpaid and overworked just in order to ‘win’ the interview process.

  48. raida7*

    I think that the issue is your family member has focussed on you venting, rather than the actual issue:

    This is not a job you are interested in. Therefore you should not be applying. That is all there is.

    They are thinking u want to pull out as a ‘well fck this guy’ to the people that posted the role/interviewed you, and as such they are advising you against being emotional and immature. They have not understood the reason to consider pulling out of the process, so you can simply accept that they have not given you advice on the subject at hand, and don’t need to include that advice in your decision making process.

  49. Sakuko*

    I had this slightly bizarre interview once, where they where looking to fill some programing position with “some travel” and when I got there I found out very quickly some travel means being in a different country 3-6 month at a time 1-2 a year. They where very understanding when I withdrew then and there and they also looked over the posting with me and took my feedback, that “some travel” is really too generic a phrase to cover what they where looking for (and they did have a hard time filling that position, as you can probably imagine).

  50. Eclecticism is a Virtue*

    In your position, OP, I would have pushed back on the family member.

    Family Member: You lose bargaining power.
    Me: What bargaining power? If I take the job they described in the interview, I would hate my job. Then they have an employee who doesn’t want to be there. How is that good for either of us? Please, really, explain that to me.
    Family Member: Well, you could have held out and tried to get them to change the job to fit what you want.
    Me: Really? I’ve done plenty of hiring over the years. I wouldn’t just change it because a candidate I really like wants me to change it. There were other candidates who I also really liked AND they were fine with the job as I presented it.

    By the way, the family member seems to be suggesting if you apply for a job that says Teapot Designer, but you really want to be in Teapot Testing, the employer would change the job to Testing, now have an extra tester they didn’t really have a space for, and they still need to hire another Teapot Designer? That last part, especially. Why would an employer do that? As Alison suggested, if they really want you, like if you’re a rock star in your field, every employer knows who you are and wants to hire you, no matter the role, sure, you could do that. Or, if you applied for Designer and didn’t realize they also had an opening in Testing, that could work (about five years ago, I interviewed someone, realized they were much better suited for a different department, and walked their résumé over — they are still here, now running that other department). But changing the role for you means the original role they were actually trying to hire for is still open, unless you can do both and do them well.

  51. Allonge*

    Hi OP – as it happens, I am halfway into looking through 120 applications for a job. Trust me, if one of them (preferably from the second half) would let us know htey are no longer interested, all I would feel is gratitude.

  52. Bob-White of the Glen*

    Please please please withdrawal from a job as soon as you know you are not interested/salary isn’t enough/got another job first. No reason to make HR or a search committee do work on an application that isn’t even in the mix anymore. It’s a kindness to withdrawal, and being professional about the reasons shouldn’t blackball you from the company. And if it does, do you really want to work in a place like that in the future anyway?

  53. Oakenfield*

    Hi OP, I just want to mention that your writing style is wonderful. Reading along feels like you’re in the room talking and venting as a friend and it made for a very enjoyable pace and tone.

    Also, do what you want :)

  54. Elizabeth West*

    Ugh, why is it that you only seem to get job advice from family members who 1) are hugely out-of-date on current employment practices, or 2) don’t have any idea what you do or what your qualifications and limitations are?

    It’s fine to withdraw from a process or end an interview. I’ve done it myself. Long ago, I was in an interview and halfway through, the hiring manager mentioned there was no insurance, a fact not mentioned in the job post. That was a deal breaker for me. I said I needed something that provided healthcare and we stopped at that point. She didn’t get angry and it wasn’t a big deal.

    I wish I’d walked out of the one with the ranting anti-masker boss. If anything like that ever happens again, I definitely won’t bother gently steering them back on track and trying to finish the interview. I’ll just politely say, “I see. I think you’re right; this wouldn’t be a good fit for me. Thank you for your time and I hope you have a great rest of the day. I’ll see myself out.”

    No one should feel obligated to subject oneself to that level of delusion. Nor should candidates have to sit there and endure belittlement or abuse if it occurs.

  55. kupo!*

    That advice is so bizarre!
    It’s way better to withdraw courteously so you don’t waste people’s time– I did that last fall when I realized that I simply had way too much on my plate to be trying to interview for a new job as well as everything else.

  56. Ann ann*

    You can withdraw from the hiring process. But what you should have done was end the interview as soon as you found out it wasn’t what you wanted. Instead you let ot continue and even go ok to h.r. then come on here to complain about it. You had control from the start. You just wanted to make it something wasn’t. Don’t want the job end the interview. Problem soled.

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