How to Decline an Interview Politely and Professionally
Declining an interview invitation is a common practice amongst job seekers. Knowing how to decline an interview in a professional way is a lesson worth learning. During your job search, there's a strong likelihood you'll receive the opportunity to interview.
What if you don't want to interview? What do you do?
Follow these steps to learn how to decline the interview you're being invited to, in a way that's polite and acceptable to all professionals.
Before turning down a job interview
Before you decide to turn down a job offer, it's important to consider how your future might get impacted by your decision.
Here is what to consider.
Do you have another interview?
If you have another interview but don't have a job offer, it might be a little early to consider turning down a job interview.
Remember, a job interview doesn't mean that you absolutely have to accept the job. It's simply an interview.
And there's a chance that the hiring manager or interviewers might not favor you, too.
It's best to take the interview and see where it leads. Securing yourself against any potential issues that could arise with the job you're most interested in.
Why are you turning down the offer?
Consider what you might be able to ask for. Is turning down the job interview the only thing that you have left to do?
Perhaps it's best to consider how much time was spent trying to get into the interview process in the first place.
Is there potential that you could ask for an alternative job title if you aren't happy with the one you're interviewing for?
When someone with a strong background enters into the interview process, most hiring managers want to assist them in finding the best place for them. Don't disregard how the company/hiring manager could help adjust for your preferences.
What's your plan?
Before declining the job interview, what's your plan after that? Do you have job interviews lined up already? Are you ready to submit your resume to more job applications?
It's best to have a plan before you send your rejection letter.
Consider the following:
- Is this a job you could perform for a limited amount of time?
- Will this job provide you additional skills that will assist your career in the long-term?
- Could this be a short period where you enter into a job or company that you aren't extremely pleased with, to then move on at a later date?
- Is there anything you could ask the hiring manager to adjust in order to make the interview/job opportunity more appealing?
Is it something you can change?
This is the best tip. Consider what you can change. Will the hiring manager help adjust the compensation for the role? Could they change the job duties and responsibilities to give you more exposure to other areas of the business?
Try to ask the hiring manager before declining a job interview.
How to decline a job interview (without burning a bridge)
If you've decided it's best to decline the job interview, here is how to do it.
Reply to the interview request or the hiring manager as soon as you can. When receiving the email or phone call, reply within 48 hours.
If you need more time, send the hiring manager an email.
Example email asking for more time
I got your request for the interview. And I'm very excited. This week is tough for me. I'm completing a few projects at work and at home. Can I get back to you by the end of the week to set up the interview?
Thanks so much Dean,
Be kind and polite
It's best to reply in a kind and polite manner. When deciding it's not best for you to proceed, you should show sincerity and general kindness.
Remember, you might request to interview with this company in the future. Or the hiring manager could move to another company. And you could interact with them again.
It's best to be extremely polite with your messaging.
Here's a bad example:
I'm really not interested in this job interview, thanks though!
Express your reasoning
You don't need to go into depth. Though, sharing your reasoning for declining the job interview can help the manager. And it can assist in keeping your professional relationship in a positive place.
A good reason for declining the interview is one of the following:
- Deciding to stay with the company you're currently employed at.
- Taking a job offer at another company.
- Deciding you'd like to go another direction with your job search.
These are acceptable and professional reasons that you can share with the manager in the email you'll write, responding to the interview request.
Keep the email short
A short email is going to be more impactful than a long one. It could seem as though a long email, explaining why you're not moving forward could contain more passion. In actuality, it's better to keep it simple.
Shorter emails show more honesty. And it's not important to provide all of the histories on the reasoning for why you'd like to decline the interview.
Be polite, keep it short, and show that you were very excited about the opportunity.
Follow-up with the hiring manager
If you don't hear anything back, follow up with the manager to make sure that everything went according to plan.
After you turn down the interview, a short note asking to ensure they received your message might be a great idea.
Here's what you might say:
Wanted to follow up and make sure you got my previous message about declining the job interview and deciding to rescind my job application. Once again, really sorry to have to say "no," though I hope we can stay in touch on future opportunities.
Hope this doesn't impact your team too heavily.
Thanks so much John,
Interview decline email samples
Here are sample emails declining a job interview. And doing so in a polite and professional manner.
General email turning down an interview
Email subject: Regarding the Interview for Job Title
Thank you so much for this request to interview with the company. I'm a huge fan of the company. And your team. And I couldn't be more pleased to have the interview opportunity with this business.
I've decided to go in another direction with my job search. And I have to decline the invitation to interview. This has no reflection on you or the company.
I hope you can move forward with another candidate and find a replacement for me as soon as possible.
As of right now, I will withdraw my application.
I hope we can stay in touch and have a positive relationship going forward. If you have any questions, my phone number is 630-999-8746.
Thanks so much Stephanie, I appreciate the opportunity.
Declining because you've accepted another job offer
Email subject: Interview for Your Name
Thank you for offering me this opportunity. I want to say thank you for considering me for the position of Software Engineer at Apple. I have truly high respect for the company. And your team. And when you emailed me, I was very excited and honored to get a response.
It's unfortunate, because I have decided to accept a job at another company at this time. I'm happy to have accepted a job that will be fruitful for my career development. And my personal passions and work passions.
Though, I am disappointed I will not get the opportunity to interview with you.
Meaning, at this time, I would like to withdraw my application and suggest you move to another candidate.
Let's stay in touch, please!
Thank you so much,
Sincerely declining the interview
Email subject: Interviewing with Company Name
Your note is well received. And I want to thank you for the chance to be able to interview with you. I feel like my abilities and your current job opening is a good fit together.
Though, after taking some time to review with my family, I have decided to withdraw myself from the interview process.
I hope there are other job candidates who you're excited about. So, at this time, I'm no longer interested in moving forward with the interview process.
I believe you have my contact information. If you have any questions or would like the opportunity to learn why I'm staying with my current job, I would gladly jump on the phone with you.
Cancelling an interview invitation after accepting
Did you already accept the interview invitation? Here's how to rescind that.
Email subject: About the scheduled interviews
Dear Mr. Smith,
I'm sorry to have to do this last minute. I understand that we have scheduled interviews in the next week or two. And I want to share how excited I am/was about that opportunity.
Unfortunately, my situation has changed recently. And I have decided to take another opportunity with another company. And, I wanted to reach out to you quickly so that we didn't have to spend any of the team's time interviewing myself.
This company is held in truly high regard on my behalf. And I want to say how difficult it was, taking the job offer I have, knowing there was outstanding interviews with your company.
Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns regarding this. I would be happy to respond as quickly as I can.
Look forward to staying touch and hoping we can connect on future job opportunities.
The best tips for turning down a job offer.
It sounds simple. Be polite. Via email, signals can get crossed. And bridges can be burned. It's best to over-index on being polite.
Leave a good impression
You never know how that manager or employer might come into your path in the future.
Maybe another job opportunity will come up and the recruiter will email you again.
Leave a good impression on the person you're responding to in order to have a bright future.
Email the right person
Did a recruiter email you? Is there someone on the human resources team that's emailing you? Make sure that you contact the right person regarding the job interview.
If you received a job interview invitation, it's best not to reply or email the person you're interviewing with.
Instead, email the human resources personnel.
Connect on LinkedIn
A great way to stay in touch is to connect with the person you would have interviewed with on LinkedIn.
Or connect with the recruiter on LinkedIn.
When your career advances, there's potential that the person that emailed you could see this update. And there could be a chance that the two of you connect once more.
A small LinkedIn request could go a long way. And can surely assist in building your professional network.
Proofread your email
Before you send your email, read it for spelling issues or grammar. It's best to present yourself professionally, even when you believe "this opportunity doesn't matter."
Remember, you could come back to this company at a later date. And be looking for a new job opportunity.
Our favorite resources are included below.
Job interview resources
- Common Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Preparing for Job Interviews by the University of Kansas
- Mock Interview Handbook by CSUCI
- Interview Guidebook by Lebanon Valley College
Resume and cover letter resources
- Writing a Resume and Cover Letter by USC
- Resume Writing Tips by the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Resume and Cover Letter Guide by Harvard University
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