How to decline an interview without burning the bridge?

When you get an email from an HR manager with an invite to an interview, you should be happy. You’ve done the work, you’ve written a great resume, and now you got the interview. But sometimes you may not want the job anymore. Maybe, your career goals have changed. Or, you have received multiple replies to your application and have better options. In this case, you will need to decline an interview.

You may still decide to go to the interview to practice your interview skills. Or, you may decide that you don’t have time for practice and prefer to say “no”.

But how to decline an interview and still stay on good terms with a potential future employer? We believe there is a way. This is what this post is about.

how to decline an interview

Best practices for declining a job interview

So, how do you decline an interview? Below, we will offer you some easy-to-customize templates for declining a job interview. But before we do, let’s look into several things that you need to take into account before hitting “send” on that email.

  • First, you need to be certain you want to decline. If you aren’t sure and there is a chance you may consider the job offer, after all, it may be best to go in for an interview and keep your options open.
  • Try to respond to the interview request within a few days. But even if you know immediately that it’s a definite “no”, it’s often best to give it at least a day before replying. This may show the company you are declining that you’ve taken the time to consider their offer and aren’t simply waiving it off.
  • Start your email with a “thank you”. Thank the hiring manager for considering you as a candidate. You may also mention that if the situation were different, you would probably have taken the offer. This leaves the door open for future conversation.
  • Give a reason for why you are declining — but don’t get too much into detail. You can truthfully say that you’ve accepted another or that your life circumstances have changed. However, don’t give up too much information on why you are declining, especially if it’s because you don’t like the company.
  • Finally, if you know someone who may be interested in this position, you may recommend them to the hiring manager. Don’t be too pushy — instead, simply mention that you have an acquaintance/former colleague who might be a good fit for the position and add a few lines about their background.

Learn how to introduce yourself professionally.

Easy-to-customize templates for declining a job interview

Let’s get to the most interesting part. Below you will find several quick templates that you can use as a base for your email when declining a job interview.

If you are declining because you simply don’t want to go

Hi (name of the hiring manager)

Thank you for reaching out to me and taking the time to review my application. I genuinely appreciate you inviting me for an interview to discuss the position further. However, unfortunately, I have to withdraw my application at the moment.

I would like to thank you once again for your time in reviewing my resume and cover letter. I hope we can stay connected.

All the best,

(your name)

If you are declining because you’ve already said “yes” to another offer

Hi (name of the hiring manager)

Thank you so much for considering my application. I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to review my resume and cover letter and I feel honored to have been selected for a job interview for (name of company).

However, several days ago I formally accepted an offer from another company.

I wish you all the best in your search for the best candidate for this role. I also hope that we can keep in touch if anything changes in the future.

Thank you again for considering my application and I am genuinely sorry I can not accept the interview invitation at this time.

Best wishes,

(your name)

If you are declining because your life circumstances have changed

Hi (name of the hiring manager)

Thank you for the kind invitation to interview for the role of (name of position) at (name of company). Unfortunately, since I sent out my application, my life circumstances have changed and I am no longer seeking employment at this time.

I am genuinely thankful for you taking the time to review my application and, if the situation were different, I would have gladly accepted your interview invitation.

I would love to keep in touch and do hope we get another chance to work together.

Sincerely,

(your name)

how to decline an interview

If you are declining the invitation but have someone else in mind for the job

Hi (name of the hiring manager)

Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to interview for the (name of position) at your company. Unfortunately, while I did find your offer very interesting, I am not looking for any career changes at this time.

However, I’ve mentioned your job offer to a good colleague of mine, (colleague’s name), and he/she expressed a lot of interest in the position. Based on my previous experience of working side by side with (colleague’s name), I believe him/her to be a great fit for filling the (name of position) role at your company.

I’ve included a link to (colleague’s name) LinkedIn profile in this email as well as his/her contact details.

Thank you again for reaching out and I hope we can stay in touch!

Thanks,

(your name)

Reasons to decline an interview

There may be several reasons why you prefer not to go to a job interview.

Now, let’s take a look at some easy-to-use templates that can help you decline the unwanted job interview politely.

  • One of the most obvious reasons is that you are simply no longer interested in the job. Or, the job may not be your first priority anymore. Maybe you have received a better offer. Maybe, you are not happy with the work conditions that are being offered. Maybe, you have just changed your mind. These things happen — especially if a considerable amount of time has passed since your application.
  • Another reason you may not want to go to the job interview is that you’ve done some research on the company and it doesn’t align with your vision. When we are unemployed, we often tend to apply for any open position just to get some financial stability back. But once the interview offers to start rolling in, we start becoming more picky about where we actually want to work. If the company that has invited you for an interview hasn’t made the cut, you will probably not want to go to the interview.
  • You may have accepted another job offer. If you have accepted another job offer, there is, naturally, no reason for you to go to an interview for another job, since your decision has already been made. In this case, it’s best to inform the company that invited you for an interview of your new status and leave the door open for possible cooperation in the future.
  • Your career goals may have changed. Perhaps, since you sent out your application, you have reconsidered your career path and would prefer to continue your professional development in a different direction. In this case, attending the interview will probably not be useful to you as you will now be looking for opportunities in a new niche.

Learn how to answer the question “What are your career goals”?

  • You may not have the time. While going to interviews is generally good practice that may help you land the perfect job in the future, sometimes, you may simply not have the time. Maybe you are looking at attending several interviews. Maybe you don’t believe that going forward with the interview will be useful and would rather spend your time preparing for other interviews.

Whatever your reason may be, if you don’t want to spend time on a job interview, you shouldn’t have to.

What you will need to do is find a way to politely decline an interview while still leaving the door open for future opportunities. This is what we will look into below.

How to decline a job interview: key takeaways

So, let’s sum up all we now know about declining a job interview.

First, if you’ve received an invitation for a job interview that you are no longer interested in, consider going in for the interview anyway. This may be a good way to practice your interview skills, learn more about the industry, get useful connections and more. Plus, who knows, you might change your mind.

If you are sure that you will not be attending the interview, make sure you reply to the invitation and politely decline the offer. It’s best to send your email within a day or two from the date you’ve received the invitation.

When explaining the reasons behind your rejection, don’t go into too much detail and try to leave the door open for future cooperation.

Make sure to thank the hiring manager for the time they’ve taken to review your application. If you have a recommendation for someone you know who could fill the position instead, you may also introduce them in the email.

Learn more about writing professional emails.

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