How to Decline a Job Interview Invitation (4 Simple Steps) [+ Example Emails]
After submitting a job application, an applicant may have decided to pursue a new opportunity, or maybe the applicant learned more about the position, like the proposed base salary. If the applicant feels like the job opportunity isn’t worthy of a job interview, it can be useful to send an email or letter letting the hiring manager know.
After receiving the interview invitation, respond quickly to the interview offer. An email response from the candidate within 24 to 48 hours is considered good business etiquette. This helps the interviewer move onto another candidate quickly. And can help with the manager's interview process, keeping the business relationship intact.
When responding to an interview invitation with the intent of declining it. It can be helpful to provide a reason for the employer. Keep the reason formal and professional. A good reason might include:
- Circumstances in the job search have changed. Like the need to relocate. Or desire to no longer relocate.
- Already accepted another job offer.
- The salary and benefits are not a good fit.
- Deciding on another career path or career goals.
- Deciding to stay with a current employer (staying with a current job).
These reasons are considered acceptable (a valid reason), professional, and will help the prospective employer feel more secure in moving forward. A bad reason would be to mention disapproval in the company culture. Here are bad examples of reasons:
- Displeased with the company culture.
- Simply isn’t “my dream job”.
- “I got a better offer somewhere else”.
- Having multiple job offers and needing more time.
- The job title isn’t important enough.
By mentioning a reason like the one above, it can make the candidate exempt from a future opportunity. And on some level, it tells the recruiter or hiring manager that they are lesser than. As a job seeker, it’s important to retain professional relationships even when deciding to withdraw themselves as a job candidate.
A job interview invitation might come in various forms. The first might be to take a phone interview. If deciding to withdraw after the phone interview, the sample emails below are still applicable. If the decision to withdraw is after a second interview or if asked to go on a second interview, the sample emails below are still applicable.
A recruiter will be comfortable with candidates dropping out of the running during the recruitment process. It is a normal part of the human resources process. Because it may take one to two weeks to perform an interview and move the candidate forward, a recruiter will acknowledge that qualified candidates may move onto a new opportunity.
How to Decline a Job Interview
Below are the steps to decline a job interview.
- Respond to the interview invitation quickly. Within 24 to 48 hours.
- Respond with a polite, simple email (rejection letter), informing the hiring manager of the reason for deciding to decline the offer.
- Be clear about the desire to withdraw as a job applicant for the open position.
- Ask to be informed of future opportunities if circumstances change.
Try to avoid sending a rejection letter when there’s a scheduled interview. It’s best to reject the job interview in advance rather than withdrawing from the interview after it has been scheduled. Declining early rather than accepting and canceling will leave a good impression on the interviewer.
Declining a Job Interview Sample Letter (Generic)
Below is a sample email declining a job interview.
Declining a Job Interview Due to Salary Sample
Below is a sample email declining a job interview due to salary and benefits.
Declining a Job Interview Due to Location Sample
Below is a sample email declining a job interview due to the office's location.
Declining a Job Interview Due to Accepting Another Offer Sample
Below is a sample email declining a job interview due to accepting another offer.
Declining a Job Interview by Phone
Below is a sample script declining a job interview by phone.
Job Interview Decline Tips
Follow these tips as a job seeker and job applicant to decline a job interview without burning a bridge.
Keep the communication shorter
A heartfelt, sincere message is key. But, be sure not to express a long story that the hiring manager might not resonate with. A simple explanation is the best way to provide some evidence that the job interview will be declined and why. The story should take roughly 2-3 minutes to share. Rather than explaining a story that takes 10-minutes to 15-minutes to complete.
Show evidence of supporting the team
It's important to communicate how much respect is being given to the team, the company, the leadership, and more. Share a personal and sincere message in the job interview decline email that suggests great respect for the team. The hiring manager will receive this well. And is a key part of being considered for future job opportunities.
Don't be too brief
While formal communication is key, it's okay to go slightly into detail. Many job seekers make the mistake of being too brief with the hiring manager. While it's true—being brief is key. It's important to be sincere and heartfelt. And limited communication can come across as negative, cold, or potentially be misinterpreted by the reader. Be sure to use sincere feelings and express some emotion behind how the decision was made to decline the job opportunity and job interview.
This can't be said enough, don't play games with the hiring manager. As a job seeker, if there's awareness around not wanting to take the job interview, inform the hiring manager right away. This saves the hiring manager time and ensures that the job applicant's "self-image" will be upheld and respected. Those who wait multiple days to respond to emails from the hiring manager are not going to receive a significant amount of respect from the hiring manager.
- How to Turn Down a Job Offer
- How to Turn Down a Job Offer After Accepting
- How to Respond to a Job Rejection Email
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
Job search resources
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