I often have been heard to joke that when I was in the Advertising business I worked with people who lied even when it wasn’t necessary. Their reason was simple. They didn’t want to get out of practice.
In much the same way, you as a job applicant need to “stay the course” even when you may know very shortly into the process that the job in question is not of interest for whatever reason or reasons.
I suppose it would be more polite (and members of The FENG tend to be VERY polite) to just drop out of the process, but I would suggest to you in the strongest of terms that, like my “friends” in the Advertising business, you need the practice.
Interviews can be few and far between. The mental gymnastics and salesmanship required to get a firm to make you an offer is a skill that you can never have enough practice doing. And, what better situation to hone your own personal process than when there is literally nothing at stake.
Yes, I know it is a little dishonest, but as you know, practice makes perfect. It’s not like you have any other way to gain this kind of experience.
I would also suggest to you that us analytical types are often too quick to make judgments. While I am not going to second guess your ability to easily determine that the overwhelming evidence is that this job is not for you, but you just never know. As Butch Cassidy said in that now famous movie: “Don’t sugar coat it Sundance, tell it to her straight.” Some interviewers tell you all the bad stuff first (to test your reaction) and if you don’t hang in there and listen to the end of the story, you might never know that it actually has a happy ending.
Someone correctly pointed out to me once that you can’t turn down a job that hasn’t been offered to you. How true. I just wish that everyone I know really understood this point.
I hope that the next time you have the opportunity participate in an interviewing process you will play out all your cards. The best revenge may end up being your firing the Human Resource Director who insisted on your taking that simple math test they give to High School graduates who apply at the company. (He should know you can only work numbers on a calculator or computer.)
Being able to say you turned down several jobs can also make for a very good “throw away” line when the job you really want comes along. It is all part of the game we play in this thing we call job search.