How To Politely Decline a Job Interview

How To Politely Decline a Job Interview

It can be hard to get interviews in a competitive job market, but sometimes, the position may not be exactly what you’re looking for, or your circumstances may have changed. When that happens, it’s always a good idea to politely decline the interview and let the hiring manager know that you’re no longer interested in the role as soon as possible.

Perhaps you just received an offer from a company you’d love to work for. Or you discovered red flags about the company that makes you reconsider wanting to work for them. If you’re sure this isn’t the job for you, it’s always a good idea to politely decline the interview and do your best to stay on good terms with the employer. 

There may be another role that’s a better fit, either now or in the future, so take the time to thank the company for offering you the opportunity to be considered for the job. 

Here are tips for gracefully declining a job interview, what to say, and when and how to say it, with examples of email messages turning down an interview.

Tips for Declining a Job Interview 

  • Don’t wait to decline: As soon as you’re certain you want to decline an interview, inform the employer promptly. Letting them know right away allows them to adjust their schedule and potentially offer the opportunity to another candidate.
  • Keep it positive: When explaining your decision, be diplomatic. Avoid burning bridges or giving negative feedback. Instead, focus on professional or personal reasons or changes in your circumstances.
  • Be professional and polite: Treat every interaction with the employer as an opportunity to leave a positive impression. Maintain a courteous tone in both verbal and written communications.
  • Express gratitude: Regardless of your decision, thank the employer for considering you for the position. It shows respect for their time and effort in the hiring process.
  • Consider giving a reason: It’s not required, but you can share a brief reason for declining the interview. You don’t need to go into detail, but giving context can help the employer understand your decision.
  • Offer to stay in touch: Express your willingness to stay in touch or to be considered for future opportunities. 
  • Use email: The easiest way to decline an interview is via email, or a LinkedIn message if that’s how you communicated with the recruiter, rather than a phone call. This way, you won’t be fumbling for words.
  • If you call: If you decide to call to decline an interview, keep the conversation brief. Simply thank the person scheduling the interview for considering you and say that you’re no longer available.

How To Phrase Your Message

If you’re declining the interview because you have accepted another offer, thank the employer for considering you and explain that your job search is no longer active. 

Suppose it’s due to personal reasons, such as the role not being the right fit or a change of circumstances. In that case, you can mention how much you appreciate their time and consideration, but you’ve decided to withdraw your application. You can use the same explanation even if you’ve noticed red flags and are no longer interested in working for the company.

Say Thank You

Regardless of your reason for rejecting the interview, showing gratitude to the hiring manager is always appropriate. Thank them for taking the time to consider your application and express your appreciation for their assistance. 

Email Message Examples Declining a Job Interview

Review these examples of email messages declining a job interview, and tailor your message to your personal and professional circumstances.

Example Message #1

Subject: [Job Title] Interview – Your Name

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],

 I wanted to reach out and personally thank you for inviting me to interview for the [Job Title] position at [Company Name]. After careful consideration, I have decided to pursue a different path that aligns more closely with my current career goals. 

I wanted to let you know as soon as possible to ensure minimal disruption to your hiring schedule. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity and hope our paths might cross again.

Thank you again for your consideration, and I wish [Company Name] continued success in finding the ideal candidate for this role.

Best regards, 

[Your Name]

Example Message #2

Subject: Withdrawal of Application for [Job Title] Position

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],

I am grateful for the invitation to interview for the [Job Title] position at [Company Name]. 

I have decided to pursue a different career path that I believe is better aligned with my long-term goals. This was not an easy decision, as I hold [Company Name] in high regard, and I appreciate the time and effort you and your team have invested in the hiring process.

Thank you again for considering me for this opportunity.


[Your Name]

The Bottom Line

While declining a job interview can be awkward, it’s important to handle the situation with professionalism in a timely manner. 

Hiring managers don’t appreciate no-shows or last-minute cancellations, so it’s best to communicate your decision as soon as possible. Keep your message concise, positive, and professional. 

Remember, your goal is to maintain a good relationship with the company and not burn any bridges. By showing gratitude and consideration, you can leave a positive impression that could benefit you in the long run.

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  • September 7, 2023