Always Take the First Interview

One day, out of the blue, you receive a call from a recruiter. They're recruiting for a position you've never even heard of, let alone applied for. You don't know how they got your name or phone number. The recruiter asks if you know anyone who might be interested.

It's always a surprising call to receive, even if you've received similar calls in the past. If you're like many people, you may start to run through the list of friends who "might be interested." But here's the thing: When the headhunter asks if you know someone who might be interested, they're really asking if you might be interested. It's a polite way of asking if you want to be interviewed for the job. They only want to know if you have a friend if it turns out you aren't interested.

Knowing this, how do you react to this random recruiter? You initially may want to say you aren't interested because you aren't currently looking for a new job. Or, if you are looking, you may be hesitant because you don't know much about this role or company. You haven't even seen the job description.

When you aren't looking for a job, it's often the perfect time to find one. If things at your current job are going pretty well, you'll have more leverage if you do land a job offer. You won't feel pressured to take something that's not the right fit if you already have a job that's going just fine.

Still not sure if the job is for you? The best way to find out is to have the interview. Let the recruiter know you would like to learn more. Then, before you interview, ask for the job description and research the company. During the interview, ask questions to learn more.

Often, job seekers tell me they don't want to waste the company's time. If the job didn't end up being the right fit, they would feel guilty. But why? The company will interview many candidates who won't be the right fit, but they wouldn't know whom to hire if they didn't interview all the candidates first. How is going to an interview any different? And how will you know whether or not a job is for you if you don't learn more about it first?

Always take the first interview. You really never know where it might lead you.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.

Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.