How To Decline A Job Interview Step by Step (Sample Emails) [2020 Updated]

how to decline a job interview

Sometimes it’s necessary to decline a job interview. You may have gone through the initial stages of the interview process and decided this position isn’t right for you. Or maybe you received an unsolicited email and need to respond. How do you decline a job interview and do so without burning any bridges?

In this guide we’re going to show you how to politely decline any request for interviewing and ensure that you keep your reputation as well as a potential job opportunity.

How to Decline an Interview and Not Burn a Bridge

For the most part, every HR department, hiring manager, or team leader knows that when you are in the interview process with someone, there’s always a chance they could decide to go another route. This is why they often try to rush the process. They want to make sure that you don’t have enough time to consider other options or delay the acceptance of an offer letter.

What’s crucial to understand is that any pressure you might be receiving from the other party is simply them trying to do their job. They are being asked to hire someone and hire someone quickly.

If you don’t want to burn a bridge, all you have to do is ensure that your communication with whomever it was who was asking you for the new interview, is done so in a calm and professional manner. It is always great to include some type of supportive reasoning for why you feel the opportunity is a great one, as well. That will make them feel like you truly considered the opportunity.

Here is what you’ll want to ensure your communication with them entails:

You might have to do this by email or by phone. But if you are doing it by email and you don’t want to burn a bridge, here is what your email should look like:

Hi [Hiring Manager],

I’ve decided to go another route. Due to this, I’d like to withdraw from the interview process. That said, I want to thank you for the time you spent with me and presenting this wonderful opportunity.

I love your company because you:
1. Care about your culture
2. Are working within a category I am passionate about
3. Seem to have a job function open that has great potential for someone

I appreciate you considering me for this opportunity, I am honored. I hope we can continue our communication in the future and see if there is better timing down the road.

[Your name]

Yes, it may seem like you are “brown nosing” the interviewer in some sense. But this shows that you’ve taken the time to consider why the job opportunity is a great one and why you feel you are missing out on something due to timing.

This is a very professional way of declining any future interviews.

If You Received An Unsolicited Email

Lets say you received an unsolicited email asking you to jump on the phone to go through a pre-screen session or phone interview. And you aren’t looking to make a change from your current position or company. How do you respond to that? The answer is, in a very similar way as the email above.

Here’s an example of what you might say:

Hi [Name],

Thank you so much for reaching out to me. I’m honored to be considered for this position. Unfortunately, right now, I’m not looking to make any career changes.

I hope we can stay in touch and please alert me of any future job openings.

Thank you,
[Your name]

In the email above you keep the line of communication simple and to the point. But you also leave the potential of future job opportunities on the table.

Declining a Job Interview Due To Salary

Maybe you received an email from a recruiter or manager asking you to interview and you looked at the salary or compensation package associated with the job but it wasn't something you were interested in. How do you tell the interview requester that you don't want to interview due to the salary or compensation package? Here's an example:

Dear [Name]—

I'm honored to be asked to interview with your company. I happened to look at the compensation package and unfortunately, it's significantly lower than my current position. I hope you can understand that while I really love your company, it makes more sense for me to stay where I am right now.

Thank you so much,
[Your name]

Why Would You Decline A Job Interview

There’s a variety of reasons you might decline a job interview. All of which are entirely normal business and most of which will be comfortable for hiring managers or HR departments to hear about.

Some of this would include:

All of these are good reasons. But you don’t want to share them with the interviewer. It is best to keep these reasons to yourself and keep your line of communication simple. Why? Because if you share your personal thoughts on the process, the interviewer has the opportunity to persuade you against those reasons. And that may make you feel like you are being badgered or sold into an opportunity. And you don’t want that.

Tips When Declining Any Future Job Opportunity Or Interview

When declining or withdrawing from any job opportunity it is best that you once you’ve made up your decision to withdraw, that you do so quickly. It is courteous to the interviewer and company to know that you are no longer a potential candidate. Your goal isn’t to be malicious towards the company and by withdrawing quickly, you are allowing them to fill the position with someone else.

The best things you can do are:

The worst things you can do are:

Job Seeker FAQ

Questions about how to decline an interview.

What if I have a job offer from this company, what should I do?

You can still withdrawal. But you should look at our guide on how to decline a job offer after accepting. It will be more informative on how to handle this process.

What if I have a scheduled interview, does this change how I cancel?

No it doesn't. But if you'd like to learn how to cancel an interview, you should look at our guide. If the employer simply gave you an interview invitation, then you can still decline it using this guide.

Should I mention to the employer that the reason for me not wanting to interview is because it's not a good fit?

It's better to say that the reason is simply timing. This helps to ensure that any future opportunity that might come up is still something that they might consider you for.

Do I need to provide a rejection letter when I decline an interview request?

No. This is normal for the hiring process and recruitment process to decline an interview for a job. Just tell the person who contacted you it's not a good time right now to explore a new opportunity.

Should I say the reason is that I'm not interested in the company culture?

No. You don't need to go into detail for what your reason is. Just decline the offer and say you're happy with your current job. And the recruiter will move onto another candidate. This is a fine way to keep your professional reputation. There are many job candidates for every position. The recruiter is not going to be "upset" at you.

What if I submitted a job application and now I want to decline an interview?

You should come up with a good reason to explain to the person who is reaching out to you. You can say something like you consulted with a career coach and decided that your current position is somewhere you should stay. And that you decided against pursuing a new job and instead found a way for my current role to align with my career goals. And that you've concluded your job search. This is just fine to explain to the person who reached out to you. Don't say something like, "I decided against it, this just isn't my dream job."

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur,, SparkHire, and many more.


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