Being out of work, or 'underemployed' is no fun. We've all been there, combing the online ads, sending out resumes over and over, hoping for an interview, sweating bullets in the lobby while we wait for someone to ask us 10 questions in 30 minutes that could possibly change your life.
Being on the other side of the desk is no fun either. Trying to figure out who fits best for an opening, who will play nice with the team, who you can afford, who has puffed up their resume or may be a secret psycho is no cake walk.
Still, I certainly prefer to be the guy on this side of the desk.
A good friend of mine is currently one of the millions of Americans working part time, without benefits, while looking for full-time work. That scenario is bad enough if you are a recent college graduate looking to break into your field, but imagine you are a single parent trying to get back into the workforce after 10 years. You've got a master's degree and are an expert in your field and you can't get an interview.
Except the 'courtesy interview.'
Which brings me to my point.
There is nothing courteous about a courtesy interview. Nothing angers me more than to hear a friend or colleague saying that they already know who they are hiring, but hey have to do a courtesy interview.
If it was me, I would prefer the courtesy of you telling me I did not have to waste my day coming to talk to you about a job you are not going to give me. If you feel like you have to interview me because I work here, or I am a friend of a friend, you're wrong. Be a big boy. Call your friend and tell them you are hiring someone else and you don't want to waste anyone's time with a courtesy interview. They will respect you more for that than for any courtesy interview you might offer.
If I work for you and you think you need to offer me a courtesy interview, then you are clueless and I am probably interviewing all over the planet to escape from your cluelessness in case it's somehow contagious. Bring me in and tell me who you are giving the job to and why they are better qualified. It will save time and the eventual embarrassment that you will feel when it comes out - and it will someday - that it was a sham interview from the start.
If you are bringing someone in from outside for an interview, having them take time off from another job, get child care, pay for transportation or parking, learn about you and your organization, and get their hopes up, they better have a shot at the job. It is the height of rudeness to interview a person who has no shot at the position.
You may think that you need to do it because you have to interview a certain number of people before you can make a hire, but you're on shaky ground here. There is nothing ethical about making a decision before you interview people and then bringing in a few hopeless fools before making an offer. It's dirty pool and it may not even protect you legally.
Anyway - I will climb down off my soapbox now. Return to your regularly scheduled day.