Turning Down a Job Interview Without Burning Bridges

Picture this scenario: Weeks ago, you applied for a position that sounded pretty interesting. Now a hiring manager has sent you an email, asking you to come in for an interview. As you re-read the requirements for the position, you decide that you don’t really want the gig, even though you like the company. How can you turn down the hiring manager without insulting them?

Some people would argue, of course, that you should never decline a job interview, especially if you’re hunting full-time for your next position. And it’s true that, even if you don’t particularly like the offered role, everyone can always use a bit more interview practice.

On the other hand, you don’t want to waste anyone’s time, and the hours you spend prepping for an interview could be used more productively in other ways. Life might have also intervened in the days or weeks since you sent in your application; you might have found another job in the interim, or interviewing for this new position would prove too inconvenient with your current schedule, or you’ve grown permanently sick of whiteboard interview sessions.

With all that in mind, your email to the hiring manager (or recruiter) should emphasize how grateful you are for the opportunity. For example:

Dear [insert name of recruiter or hiring manager]:

I appreciate the opportunity to interview for [position]. However, I will need to decline the opportunity at this time. [Company] is clearly an amazing place, and I am absolutely sure you’ll find the ideal candidate you need for [insert position’s primary task here—i.e., ‘strategic data analysis’]. I look forward to [company’s] continued success in [company’s area of expertise].

[Closer, such as ‘Best,’]

[Signature]

You should respond to the interview request as quickly as possible; hiring managers and recruiters have long memories, and they’ll remember if you ignore them. You’re under no obligation to explain your reasons for turning down the interview—but if you feel the need to do so, keep it fast and vague (“not the right fit for me at this time”). Don’t lie about your rationale for turning the interview down, which can lead to unexpected problems later.

If you think you’ll interview with the company at some point in the future, see if you can maintain a connection with the hiring manager. You never know when just the right opportunity will come along.

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3 Responses to “Turning Down a Job Interview Without Burning Bridges”

  1. How much consideration would that company have given to you??

    They got back to you weeks later! They never said anything about being interested in the candidate!

    Companies are rude and crappy to candidates. The days of mutual respect are gone.

    Too many things related to interviewing and the way candidates are treated are just plain wrong!! It’s pitiful.

    • Michael .A

      I totally agree, weeks even months I’ve gone through the same thing and I’m just not going to sit around and wait I will be exploring other opportunities as well.
      respect is mutual I would rather get an email saying I didn’t get the job than just keep waiting and not hearing back at all. it’s really sad it’s all about who you know these days and not what you know.