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livelaughlove21's avatar

Interviewing for a job I don't want?

Asked by livelaughlove21 (15623points) December 10th, 2013 from iPhone

I have my résumé in with two staffing agencies that cater to law firms. I had an interview for a Legal Secretary position at a mid-size law firm and I really want the job. Since the interview last week, I’ve been asked to complete their official application and did “very well” (her words) on their skills assessment. She is now trying to schedule a second interview with the shareholders, so I’m waiting to hear back. The only negative is that she told the staffing agency that, though she really liked me, she feels as if I held back in the interview and she wants to make sure the attorneys know I’m outgoing and confident. I plan on showing them I am when I meet with them.

I also got a temp job for a week coming up if I don’t get an offer with the aforementioned firm by then, and it’s for a receptionist position. I agreed to it because I could really use the money while I wait on the other job.

Today I got a call to set up an interview with a small law firm, but it’s for a receptionist job. The staffing agency said it’s a temp-to-hire position and I’m pretty sure the pay won’t meet the $28–30K I need. I said I’d go on the interview Thursday anyway. They need to fill the position by December 23, so it’ll be a quick hiring process. I was getting paid $11/hr as a bank teller before I got my college degree. This job may pay less than that.

I recently asked a similar question about what I should do in this situation if it came up, and I was told to take whatever job I’m offered first. Now that the situation has arisen, I really don’t know about settling for a receptionist job when I have the possibility of getting in with this bigger firm, where I’ll actually be working with a lawyer and even doing paralegal duties, with better pay! Then again, I may not get that job.

Should I go to the interview anyway? What should I say if offered the position at a pay rate lower than my low-end expectation? I just don’t know what the smart thing to do is. I can be jobless until the end of January before it gets really serious.

What would YOU do? No cliche responses that don’t take my situation into account, please.

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23 Answers

Pachy's avatar

Over the course of my career I learned it never hurts to do an interview, regardless of what you might think beforehand; you just don’t know what good could from it. And if nothing else, it’s a chance to polish up on your interviewing skills and possibly get ideas on hos to improve your resume.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Do the interview and take the job even if it’s lower than you want. Most businesses don’t pay much for reception only work so the job is rarely held for long periods of time, think transition job. And if they like you and you rock the receptionist job, you may just stay on for a higher rate.

glacial's avatar

I would do the interview, and tell them that you have other offers to consider. At worst, their expectations will be realistic, and at best they might offer you more money.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@KNOWITALL The real issue here isn’t the money. If I had no other prospects, I’d be more willing to take any job I could get. However, if I get the offer on this other job, I’m taking it. I’m not passing up a higher paying, higher status job to go back to the job I had right after high school. Receptionist work certainly isn’t below me, but I didn’t work my ass off in college to make less money than I made beforehand, and with little to no change to advance. My résumé will look like I’m going backwards. I don’t have a feeling of entitlement, but I’m not going to sell myself short either. I don’t have unrealistic expectations, and I don’t know if I should settle for grunt work and potentially miss out on a better opportunity.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@livelaughlove21 Hey, I get it, but if the ‘good’ one doesn’t come through, you may as work and network you know?! If the good one comes, just say I applied at the same time as yours and the opportunity is too good to pass up.

I did it once and although awkward and making you feel like a jerk, it worked out okay and I got the job I wanted. I’ve been here 12 years now and am fully vested. :)

reijinni's avatar

Tell them that you got another offer and will let them know how it turns out. If it falls through, go ahead and accept the offer, if it doesn’t, choose the offer that is better for you.

LilCosmo's avatar

Without reading any of the other responses I would say:

1) Go on the second interview. Whether you take the job or not, it is a great way to practice your interview skills.

2) If you get the offer for the second job ask them for a few days to make a decision, then contact the staffing agency to let them know about offer and that the position with the first company you interviewed with is your preferred job. There is a possibility that they will contact the medium sized law firm and let them know you are very interested in their position, but you do have other offers. That might get them off the dime to make you a great offer.

If the preferred job doesn’t materialize, you can mull over the other offer and decide whether it would be a good move for your career. Since you will have been through the interview process you will have good information on the company and the prospect of upward mobility there.

marinelife's avatar

I would not go on the interview, and would ask the staffing agency to re-focus their search.

I would make a confident and outgoing response to the original interviewer: write her a note saying that you are looking forward to meeting the members of the firm.

CWOTUS's avatar

As @Pachyderm_In_The_Room said, you have nothing to lose by doing the interview, so definitely do that.

After that… don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched; they may not offer you the job. However, assuming they do (let’s be positive here), you can conditionally accept with a delayed start date, giving you time to get back to the original firm to let them know that you have another offer in hand (you don’t have to say – and you shouldn’t say! – what the position or the offer is), but “you’d really prefer to work in this position at this firm”, and see if they can expedite the interview and hiring process so they don’t lose you.

Having the delayed start date means that you can gracefully bow out of that “accepted” position before you have even started with them, leaving them no worse off than they were. Since you would not have been on the payroll, you wouldn’t even have to give notice; just tactfully inform them that a better offer had come along in the meantime, and that it was more suited to your interests and talent. Since they knew you were looking for a job when you interviewed with them, there should be no surprise that you had a competing offer.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Okay, the way I read this, there are three jobs going on here. You have two interviews, and one job set up which only lasts a week. First of all, nicely done, really.
The job for which you feel most hopeful, you have not yet met with anyone who determines whether you might be hired. The job you have is for one week. The job wanting to grant you an interview is temp to hire. That means there is basically a probationary period when the employer AND employee decide if it is a good match.
If the only thing you have a start date for lasts only a week, then for heavens’s sake go to the interview. These services set you up with interviews, go to them. If they don’t pan out, the service will not have lost faith in you.
Don’t mix up hope and desire with probability.
Going to an interview does not mean you have committed yourself to the job. Show up. Impress them. It’s kind of unfair to judge them before hearing them out. Suppose they do that to you?
Once you hear what they want and what they offer, then you tell them you have some other situations to look over. If a day and a half goes by and the other job has not interviewed you, take the job. If jobs are super easy to come by, you wouldn’t have any need to think this over. Maybe the other job is just not real special after all. If it turns out that it is, well, there are a great many ifs between now and that point, which MAKES my point.
This comes from experience; what a receptionist says about your app, resume, or interview, means no more than the recruiters’ assurances when you get to boot camp.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m thinking go on the interview. It is temp to perm, which means at any time they can easily tell you they don’t need you any longer. On your resume if you wind up working there you can write the job as employed by the temp agency and the company you are actually working at. The wage won’t matter much if it shows up as you temping until you find the right permanent job.

A receptionist position you pretty easily hit the ground running. 75% of the job you can do without any training, so they don’t have a ton of time invested in you if you quickly find another job and give them just a few days notice. If you feel iffy about doing that you can double check with the person at the temp agency and see if the temp agency is ok with you still pursuing other jobs, and that you doubt you will want to be permanent there. If you tip your hand, they may decide not to send you on the interview, but maybe you are fine taking that risk.

rojo's avatar

Why? If you do not want the job why would you bother to go to the interview. You are not doing yourself or the company any favors by going through the motions.

What are you going to do if they offer you a position? Thanks, but no thanks? Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@rojo Well, did you read the details? Or the other answers? Your answer can be found there.

rojo's avatar

Yes and not meaning to be impolite but the questions I asked were rhetorical. I was just expressing my opinion/advice but, evidently, not in the best manner.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I got the second interview! It’s set for Friday with several attorneys. So nervous!

Hopefully it won’t take long after that interview to hear back and I won’t have to worry about this issue. And the interview Thursday should be a good opportunity to practice being outgoing and confident for Friday.

Wish me luck!

rojo's avatar

Capital! Good luck!

KNOWITALL's avatar

@livelaughlove21 Good luck, you can DO it! :)

You are strong, intelligent, beautiful and know exactly what you’re doing!!! (affirmations)

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Good luck? I’m wishing you good decision. Hang onto your luck for your next carnival game. I’m sure you will present well. Hopefully one of these opportunities will have for you just what you want.

livelaughlove21's avatar

UPDATE: I ended up not going to that first interview, but I went to my second interview today.

I got the job!

Jonesn4burgers's avatar


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