Why I Decided to Turn Down a Job Interview

A potential employer invited me in for a job interview last week. I decided not to go. Why?

Am I crazy? I get the feeling that some people think that I am.

I was called for a job interview. I turned it down.

The job was located in downtown New York City, near the new World Trade Center. I was aware of this when I applied for it; but a woman I know at the company told me they’d been allowing more telecommuting there. This gave me hope – actually, in hindsight, I think I deluded myself into believing – that if they wanted me, then of course they’d simply permit me to work from home.

But I’d just been told, quite definitively, by the recruiter who called me for the interview that it was “not a telecommuting position.”

A little background about me: even though I only live about 15 miles from New York City, I’ve never been a big fan of “going into the city.” I don’t like the crowds, the noise, the traffic. Then, after 9/11 happened, I told myself I would never work there. I don’t want to work in a place that’s a terrorist target. A couple of people from my little New Jersey town died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

These aren’t the only reasons I don’t want to work in the city. I know I’d be drained by the stressful (for me) routine of driving to the train, taking that train to another station, and then switching trains to get to downtown NYC – and then reversing it later – day in and day out. It’s not the distance, it’s the time and the aggravation caused by bad weather and power outages and accidents and Presidential visits.

A friend of mine used to commute to the city. She was exhausted by it. I talked to her about it and she emailed me: “Do. Not. Do. It.”

To get back to my original point, since I’ve been out of work for 2½ years, some people thought I should go for the interview anyway. How could I eliminate an entire city’s worth of jobs from consideration just because I don’t want that commute? Beggars can’t be choosers, right?

So I tried to change my thinking. I thought that maybe I could talk myself into working in the city if an interesting opportunity arose. This job really did sound like a great one for me. I thought about it and I tried to convince myself that I should go for it.

Finally, I realized that, in addition to my aversion to the commute, I also had to consider the fact that, during my lengthy unemployment, I’ve created an extensive life outside of work.

I really do have “my unemployed life.”

For example, I expect to be co-president of the New Jersey chapter of the Association for Women in Communications for the next two years. This is a serious commitment and one that will require significant time and effort. I’ve also signed up to work for one of the presidential candidates’ campaigns in my state. And I recently learned of a volunteer opportunity to provide communications support to a health-related organization in my area; since I have a special interest in health communications, I’d really like to do this. 

In addition to these activities, I’m devoted to my long-time boyfriend, my son, my dog and my two cats. And to a lot of other people and things too: my life is surprisingly full.

All of these require – me. A daily commute to and from the city, I worried, would leave me worn out and tired, with little time and energy left to do and be with the things and people and pets and causes I love and believe in – to live my actual life.

That was it. I feared losing my life

That’s why I decided I couldn’t go for the interview in New York City. 

[And please, don’t get mad at me for having a (dwindling) monetary cushion that enables me to pick and choose where I want to work. I’m not a spoiled princess; I’m a woman who was widowed at 40 and still has a bit of a nest egg left over.]

I don’t blame you if you think that, in these times when interviews are hard to come by, I was foolish to pass one up. I understand that this wouldn’t have been everyone’s choice. I just know that, for me, it was the right one.

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Elizabeth August 21, 2012 at 05:54 PM
I think it is possible you have erected an artificial barrier for yourself. It isn't always helpful to make life decisions based on fear. You state you afraid of what a commute MIGHT mean for you but the truth is you have never commuted so you are assuming that your friends unpleasant experience will be your as well. There is a n equal chance that you would love your new job; would not mind the commute (reading for pleasure--hooray!); and be able to work your schedule to fit your new life. But if you just eliminate based on fear, you will never know.
Denise August 22, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Great point Elizabeth. I'm going for a job interview on Long Island although I live in NJ for that same reason! I'm going with an open mind, you never know! For those that are eager to get back to work after an extended time of no work, I believe they will consider all opportunities in their desired field. It reminds me of when my son moans that he's hungry, yet there's an uneaten sandwich in front of him. When I tell him to eat it, he says he doesn't like it. My response is usually if you're really as hungry as you say you are you'll eat it. I think the concept is the same for the job search.
Denise August 22, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Fran, I think due to your financial cushion you can afford to be selective. However once that runs dry, you may not be able to be as selective anymore and may very well end up working in the city. Hopefully it won't come to that since you really hate the city. Which brings up another topic, since I'm a native NYer, how can you hate the big apple? I know another topic for another blog... However years ago my mindset was the exact opposite of yours, I had only ever worked in the city and when I lost my city job and had to take a job in NJ where I would have to drive and be cooped up in a building in the middle of nowhere all day and have to drive just to get lunch, it was a big change for me. I accepted the job thinking I'll stay until the job market changes then go back to a city job, well I ended staying there for 10 yrs. As a NYer I said I could never move to NJ, yet I've been here for 22 yrs. now. The point is be open minded what seems so horrible may not really be horrible once you try it and you may end up liking it.
Fran Hopkins August 24, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Elizabeth and Denise, I appreciate your comments. In general, I do believe in being open to possibilities, including ones I wouldn't have considered before; but if I'm pretty sure I'd be miserable working in the city, then I don't think I should do it. Stories like this morning's breaking news don't entice me to work there either: http://www.northjersey.com/news/ny_metro/Officials_Several_people_shot_outside_the_Empire_State_Building.html
Denise August 24, 2012 at 04:28 PM
I'm sure you're aware that shootings like this happen all over the world not just in NY. It happens in NJ, Colorado, FL, etc. There's crime all over and NJ is known for car jackings... So don't make this the reason not to work in NY. My point is you don't know until you try. You're basing your decision on fear as another poster mentioned and I've always learned that FEAR= False Evidence Appearing Real. But as Laura mentioned you most likely would not be happy working in the city because your mind is already telling you that you won't be happy; self fulfilling prophecy at work. I hope your dream job in NJ opens up for you and will continue reading your blogs when I can, as some of them are encouraging and I learn so much from the comments as well for my job transition.


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