You know the feeling: You've been on the job search and landed an on-site interview, only to realize mid-interview that this position, company, or culture is not the right fit for you. Can you cut out early and save the rest of your day? Or are you stuck faking it through the rest of the hours-long interview process?
Like so many things in life, the answer is: It depends.
Do you want to remain on good terms with the company and the people conducting your interview? If so, you might want to stay for the entire interview.
"As an interviewer, I do cut interviews short if the candidate is clearly not a fit," says Rick Spencer, Engineering Director, Ubuntu at Canonical Ltd. "However, if a candidate cut off an interview because the candidate thought it was not a good fit, I would consider it rude. Also, I would consider it to be poor judgment on their part."
Spencer points out that the interview is a chance to sell yourself to the organization. "Even if the specific job is not a fit, there may be roles in the future at a more senior level, consulting, or other ways of working together," he explains.
Spencer is right. The IT world is relatively small and highly networked, so you have the potential to encounter the company or its employees in the future. For example, what if you like the people at a company but can't stand its corporate culture? The person interviewing you now could be the same person launching an exciting startup next month, so keep that in mind as you consider cutting out.
Erica Brescia, CEO at BitRock, a San Francisco-based software provider, says that it is possible to bow out of an interview and still leave on good terms. "In my view, the goal of the recruiting and interview process is to find a great fit between a candidate and a specific position," she says. "If that fit isn't there, it is in everyone's best interest to just be open and honest about that and move on. Of course, some tact is in order, as you never know when you'll cross paths again. I think a simple 'I really admire your company and can see that this is a great opportunity for the right person, but I just don't feel like it would be a good fit for me' would do."
With Brescia's approach, you have saved your time — and the hiring manager's time — while also paving the way for a future role with the company or its employees.
Have you been stuck in an interview you wanted to ditch? What advice do you have for other job seekers in the same predicament?