How to Politely Decline a Job Interview (15 Great Tips and Sample Letters)

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So, what do we do when that time comes?

How should we politely decline the offer?

Henry E. Goldbeck

Henry E. Goldbeck

Certified Personnel Consultant | President of Goldbeck Recruiting Inc.

Do it as soon as possible

When declining a job interview, it’s important to do it ASAP to be respectful of the employer’s time and priorities.

Stepping aside will allow another candidate to take your place. You can give a reason, but details are not required, and certainly, do not criticize the employer as a reason for declining. From your point of view, this is a long term relationship that may come to bear some time in the future.

The same company may have a different position open that you would love to interview for, or the hiring manager might move to another company that you would love to work for, etc.

If you do like the company and would be interested in working there at a future date and/or in a different role, make sure to say that too. Lastly, don’t forget to thank the person for the opportunity and for their time.

Here’s a sample letter:

Dear Hiring Manager,

Thank you for considering me for the <ABC> position. However, I have accepted another offer that is more in line with the work that I hope to do, and must regretfully withdraw my application.

Please keep me in mind in for future positions. I have followed your company for many years and have been continuously impressed with its fast growth. It is my hope that I can work with you at a later date, in a role that better aligns with my goals. I would be especially interested in positions in your project management department and have been working to develop my career in that direction.

Again, thank you for your time and the opportunity.

All the best,

<Name>

Jason Patel

jason-patel

Former Career Ambassador at the George Washington University | Founder, Transizion

Keep the relationship alive

When declining a job interview, your goal is to say “no” while keeping the relationship between the both of you alive.

This ensures you’re keeping the door open for later, just in case your current opportunity falls through or you unexpectedly lose your job. It happens to everyone, so you want to prepare for that.

You don’t need to exactly state why you’re declining the interview. Rather, you can be general about why you need to move on. Trust me, the employer will understand.

With that said, you want to keep this relationship between you and the company alive. My favorite tip to do this is to offer to take the hiring point person, or a team member, out for coffee or a drink to pick their brain and get to know them more.

They usually won’t take you up on the offer because they’re so busy, but the fact that you offered is something that will stick with them. This ensures you stick in their mind with a positive memory. Even if they don’t remember you when you can email them back months or years from that point, you can remind them of your previous correspondence and they’ll remember you or see your name in their inbox. That you had positive interaction with them before is important social proof.

Deborah Woolridge, MSED SPHR SHRM-SCP

Deborah Woolridge

Certified HR Professional

Never ghost a recruiter

It has been a rare experience that someone would decline an interview but it happens. My tips:

  1. To acknowledge but refuse a job interview is a simple courtesy to the recruiter. At least we can close the door on you as a possibility and we do not have to spend the time that is precious to us.
  2. It is simple to do. There is no need to make more of it than is needed. If you do not want to have voice contact with the recruiter you can do one of two things:
    a) Leave a voice mail after work hours.
    b) Decline the interview in an email.
  3. In terms of content, written or verbal:
    a) Hi. This is (insert your name). I appreciate your request for an interview but I have elected not to pursue this particular position. Thank you for your interest in my background and I wish you well with your search.
  4. Never ghost a recruiter. Just do the right thing. I know many recruiters may ghost an applicant yet, just a minute of your time saves a recruiter a lot of time.

Brittany Salsman

Brittany Salsman

Academic & Career Coach, Life Lived by Design

It’s time to let it go

We’ve all been there before. You found a position you’re really excited about and, after the first interview, you realize it’s not quite what you were looking for.

Do you continue with the interview process for practice or do you bow out? If you’re certain that there is nothing new you can learn that would change your mind about considering the position, it’s time to let it go – gracefully that is.

Here are a few tips for declining future interviews:

  1. Keep your note short. The hiring manager will be disappointed and won’t want to read an in-depth email. Keeping your note short increases the likelihood they will read the full message rather than skimming it.
  2. Express gratitude. Acknowledging the time they have invested in the process thus far shows your professionalism and keeps the relationship intact if future positions become available in which you may be interested.
  3. Limit your reasoning. While you will want to share why you are not moving forward, keep your explanation brief. If the hiring manager is interested in digging deeper to understand, they will reach out to you for further detail.
  4. Share your positive experience. It’s important to recognize at least one positive experience during the process. This also contributes to maintaining the relationship for future opportunities and keeps the note light and respectful.

When all else fails, use this template as a guide for your response:

Hello [name of hiring manager],

Thanks so much for the opportunity to continue with the interview process for the [position title]. After much reflection, I have decided to withdraw my application from consideration. While I [insert positive experience}, I don’t feel [insert brief reason for withdrawal]. I really appreciate the opportunity to learn more about [company name] and am so grateful for your time. Best of luck in finding the perfect fit for the position.

Best,

[your full name]

Gina Curtis

Career Coach for Employment BOOST

Respond politely to an offer

No matter what your answer will be, it’s always important to respond politely to an offer. On the case that you are looking to decline an offer, keep in mind it is important to never burn a bridge and still respond in a professional manner.

When crafting your letter, start by thanking everyone involved in the process before giving a credible reason to allow the hiring manager to fully understand why you are choosing to move on.

By doing so, the hiring manager has the chance to find ways to meet your requirements or will have the option to keep you in mind for future opportunities that could.

For instance, in the case that you find that the new position that was offered doesn’t provide a reasonable salary that you are looking for respectfully decline and explain that in order for you to make the transition it would require an offer that is within a certain range. In addition to this, take adequate time to explain why you are looking for that range before closing out your letter.

Jodi RR Smith

Jodi RR Smith

Human Resources Professional | Nationally Known Etiquette Consultant

A brief yet polite email will suffice

It is not uncommon for job-seekers to mistakenly think it is more polite or professional to keep an interview. This is a novice mistake.

Keeping the interview steals a spot from someone who is actually interested in the position. It also wastes the interviewer’s time. The time which could be spent seeking other candidates or simply doing other work.

Instead, a brief yet polite email will suffice. There is no need to provide any excuse or explanation.

“Thank you for inviting me to interview with your company/firm/organization. After reviewing the posting, I have determined it is not the right position for me at this time. I wish you all the best.”

Laura Handrick

Laura Handrick

HR Specialist, FitSmallBusiness

Be graceful and direct

Often candidates get job interview offers for positions they don’t really want. For example, I’ve often received calls from recruiters wanting to hire me for insurance sales roles.

Here are a few examples of ways to decline the interview. Whatever you do, don’t agree to an interview and then ghost the recruiter by not showing up.

Recruiters have a hard enough time scheduling interviews for themselves and hiring managers. Instead, be graceful, and direct. You never know when your paths may cross with that company or that person in the future.

“Thank you for thinking of me. I’m going to pass on your request for an interview due to (pick one):

having accepted another job offer

loyalty to my current employer

having changed directions in my career search

the realization that the job opening and my personal goals aren’t in sync

I appreciate your time and wish you the best in your search for a top candidate to fill this role.

(optional) I’d be happy to share the job post on my social media profile to see if any of my contacts might be interested.”

Lynn Berger

Lynn Berger

Career Counselor and Coach | Licensed Mental Health Counselor | Certified Career Counselor | National Certified Counselor

Be as honest as possible

It is usually good practice to go on a job interview; however, if the job is not a good fit and you know you will never take it might be better to decline the job interview.

First, thank the interviewer for the opportunity to interview you; you never know when and if you will meet this person again. Then be as honest as possible – you might say, “I do not think this job is a good fit for myself and I do not want to waste your time and/ or delay the process for anyone else who is sincerely interested in this position”.

Maureen McCann

Maureen McCann photo

Executive Career Strategist | Promotion Career Solutions

Consider if there’s someone in your network who might be a good fit

Just because a job isn’t a good fit for you, doesn’t mean it isn’t a good fit for someone you know. Before you turn down a job interview, consider whether there is someone in your network who might be a good fit.

If the employer chose you, chances are good they saw something in you that made them pay attention. They trust you. You become a source of goodwill when you politely turn down their offer and recommend a friend who you know would fit their team perfectly.

“Dear Company ABC,

Thank you for considering me for the (XYZ position) with (Company ABC).

My career is moving in another direction, however, I have a good friend who would be ideal for this role. I am confident s/he is the right person for the job at (Company ABC) for these reasons…

Does it make sense for me to introduce the two of you?”

This way, you’ve politely declined the offer while maintaining the company’s awe.

If the friend turns out to get hired, now you have two people inside Company ABC who have their eyes peeled for ways to bring you in next time – maybe at a more senior level?

Either way, you’ve impressed the hiring committee at Company ABC. They might even share this story of your generosity with others in the industry. This improves not only your reputation but also strengthens your brand.

Meghan McKenzie

Meghan McKenzie

Director of Enterprise Sales for Crowd Content Media

Maintain a positive relationship with the company

When declining an opportunity that a company presents me with, I always focus on not burning any bridges.

Being honest about why this opportunity is not for me while also being sure to maintain a positive relationship with the company is something I believe is very important for long term career success.

Although the situation being offered may not fit your interests at this time that doesn’t mean it won’t in the future; keeping that future door open is important!

The ability to provide referrals to other individuals who would be a good fit for the role or suggesting that they reach back out to you in 6 months are also both great tools I use for ensuring that the interaction results in a positive outcome.

Samuel Johns

Samuel Johns

Career Counselor at ResumeGenius

Make your decision clear

If you’re declining a job interview, remember the “three Cs”: courtesy, clarity, and conciseness.

Courtesy means remaining professional when you turn down the interview. Take time to thank the hiring manager for the opportunity in a way that leaves a positive impression. Doing so is crucial since you never know if you’ll apply to the same company again, or even if the two of you will end up at the same company one day.

After thanking the interviewer, make it crystal clear that you are no longer interested in the position. You don’t need to specify exactly why you’re no longer interested; simply clarify that your plans have changed.

An effective example might be, “After careful consideration, I have decided to turn down this opportunity for the time being. I don’t do so lightly, and I greatly appreciate your consideration and offer.”

If you have a colleague who is job-hunting at the same time, you may want to provide the recruiter with their contact details (remember to ask for permission first). This way you can lend your friend a hand while impressing the recruiter with your pragmatism.

Your email or letter declining the interview should be short — a couple of paragraphs will do. All it needs to include is a sincere thank you and a polite response making clear your decision to turn down the interview.

Martyn Bassett

Martyn Bassett

CEO and Founder of Martyn Bassett Associates

Be brief, polite, and prompt

The best approach to declining a job interview is to be brief, polite, and prompt while leaving the door open for future conversations:

“Thanks so much for thinking of me but after reflecting on my situation I’m going to withdraw from the process. If circumstances change I’ll reach out and hope to re-engage.”

Deborah Sweeney

Deborah Sweeney

CEO of MyCorporation.com

Don’t burn any bridges

You may not be able to take the job right now, but you can’t foresee the future either.

You may come back to them later on, so don’t burn any bridges by not responding, being dishonest, or comparing them to the organization you’re actually going to work for.

Jason Kay

Jason Kay

CEO, Retreaver

Respond quickly

In order to politely decline a job interview, it is important to respond quickly. The quicker you can decline the interview the more time the employer has to offer the interview to other candidates.

In addition, make sure when you do decline the interview to be polite. You don’t want to burn your bridges by being rude. You never know when that person or company might show up again in the future.

Many industries are smaller than you think and many of the people involved in that industry know each other. Therefore, you don’t want to make a bad impression on them even if you don’t want that particular job.