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I recently posted my resume on and I was asked to interview with a large company.

In the email describing the position, it stated that the position was a senior level position.

I would not have applied for this job myself and I do not believe that I am qualified.

I already have a job and I don't see a reason to spend my limited time interviewing for a job where I would compete with much better qualified applicants.

It would likely be beneficial for me to interview for the experience, even with no expectation of being hired, but what are the motivations of this company in spending money interviewing candidates who should not appear qualified?

If I did work there, would I be working with other unqualified employees also?

Also, let me emphasize that I didn't apply for this job, I was simply asked to interview

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    Related: Are position requirements often exaggerated? - Chances are, you may be qualified. That's what the interview process is meant to determine. – animuson Aug 3 '12 at 4:34
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    If the request for an interview came from a recruiter, I would be highly suspicious that this is a candidate harvesting exercise. – tehnyit Aug 3 '12 at 9:19
  • Many job descriptions do have ridiculous requirements, but this one was fairly reasonable, just for many years of experience beyond what I have. I have been getting a lot of emails from recruiters and that is what makes me so suspicious about this particular one, even though it isn't from a typical recruiter. (Though it could be an in house recruiter.) – GT7 Aug 3 '12 at 11:25
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    Just decline the interview. Of course I think you are being silly if you don't at least do a phone interview. – Ramhound Aug 3 '12 at 12:50
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    I'd seen requirements that asked for more years of experience with a product than was possible - i.e. 5 years of experience with a product that had only been released 2 years before. So, sometimes, the listed requirements are fanciful because an internal recruiter doesn't understand the technology. – David Navarre Aug 3 '12 at 12:56
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It's hard to comment on the motives of the hiring company without having more context, but if you are in the tech industry then there is currently far more demand for qualified software engineers/architects/programmers than there is supply. So that could have something to do with it. A lot of tech companies have to basically just take what they can get.

The rest seems like it comes down to you deciding which point is most important to you:

  • I don't see a reason to spend my limited time interviewing for a job where I would compete with much better qualified applicants.
  • It would likely be beneficial for me to interview for the experience.

If you'd rather not spend time applying for a position that you feel confident you will not be offered, then don't.

If, on the other hand, you'd rather get a bit of a learning experience out of doing the interview, then go for it. They invited you, after all.

I've done the same thing myself once or twice, and it's not always the case that you don't get offered a job at the end. So you might end up with a pleasant surprise. Or at worst you'll gain a bit of experience at interviewing for senior-level positions. One day you'll probably need that.

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    I'd have to agree - often, recruiters simply cannot find anyone who fulfills the listed requirements for the position, so they reach for "almost". – David Navarre Aug 3 '12 at 12:58
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Sounds like a couple questions mixed into one - so here's a mix of thoughts:

Interview or Don't Interview

If you are so happy in your current job that you would never, ever in a million years leave it - then don't bother interviewing. The interview experience is different every time, and one interview won't be worth the time and effort drain of taking off time, scheduling, getting there, etc.

If, however, you have even a small nugget of "yeah, this could be my dream job and if it was I would take it" - then go for it.

One thing to realize - when you have absolutely no desire at all for a new job, you will approach the interview very differently than if you really want the opportunity. Interviews are absolutely psychological, and open to interpretation - the relaxation and confidence that comes from not really caring cannot be faked. Which means the reuse value of a "not caring" interview can be limited when it comes to the next job hunt where you really want a new job.

Why Me?

OK, next one - why would they hunt down and then spend time/money interviewing someone whose resume clearly doesn't fit the job description?

Hiring in the areas of knowledge work, at least, is not an exact science. I'd say it fits into the realm of art, even. There's no one perfect way to select a candidate and there's no "perfect" candidate in 99% of the cases, because in most scenarios, the perfect candidate is the one with the most potential, not the one demonstrating the perfect skill set for the current crisis.

There's a few things that can generally be considered in this sort of thing:

  • Job seniority is fungible - There may be a driving reason for a certain level of experience, but in many cases, 1 level up or 1 level down can be overlooked if the person is a good fit. Sometimes the hiring manager can control this.

  • They don't really know - depending on the organization and their current dynamic, they may not know what an outside candidate of this seniority really looks like. They may need to interview a few people before they are able to make that determination. Ranks are both a way to find, label and pay new people, and a way to improve the pay and increase the responsibilities of existing staff. Sometimes if the organization hasn't done a lot of hiring in recent memory, they only have that internal perspective.

  • The politics are inscrutable - there can be all kinds of fascinating back story to why or how a role was set up a certain way. Previous job-holders, current strategies, customer needs, internal interest - there can be all kinds of influences that have nothing to do with the job that needs doing or the person doing it.

I wouldn't be overly worried about the competition - it'll definitely vary from position to position and location to location... but you may be the only candidate that stood out, even for a senior role.

Wondering about the nature of your team is fine - I think everyone has the same question. Chances are, what you want is your team to be smart, capable and able to work together to achieve good stuff. Whether their titles are accurate or not is probably not the biggest thing - so long as your pay is relatively fair for what you can contribute. It's a relevant question to ask in the interview - "tell me about the team I'd be working with" is always a safe question.

Another thought to ask, if you get there - what about promotions and raises? If you are taking a role slightly above your current comfort level, will you be stymied in the next few years when it's time for raises? How do promotions work? Given that the role seems an odd fit for you, it's a reasonable question.

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It could be that an individual manager or team leader has their eyes set on recruiting a specific person (could be a friend or similar) but company policy requires a certain recruitment process be followed. So the manager tells the recruiter to put his or her friend up and then stack the process with a few people that are under-qualified on spec that they can dismiss without controversy. Wouldn't be the first time something like that happened.

If this is the US, it could also be that the company wants to take on foreign (H1B) workers, but need to do an attempt at local recruitment first to get their labor certification. So, again, they stack the process with a bunch of people they can claim are under-qualified to show that they can't find the required talent locally. This is not unheard of either.

Or this could be a bona-fide offer and it's just you who think you are under-qualified ;)

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