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How to Decline an Interview: Reasons, Tips, and Email Sample

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An interview invitation from a recruiter is usually a source of joy to job seekers.

After all, it takes a lot of time and effort to meet a hiring manager’s standards and impress them with your resume.

Unfortunately, changes in your schedule, goals, or career path can make you decide to turn down an offer. This situation often causes feelings of guilt, worry, or fear in most applicants.

If you’re unsure about how to decline an interview, this guide is for you! Keep reading to find some useful tips and a helpful sample to guide you through this process.

Can You Decline an Interview?

There’s nothing wrong with turning down a few interviews during your job search.

Your recruiter will likely accept and understand your decision. The key is to decline an offer at the right time and with a proper attitude.

Before reaching out to your recruiter, ensure that you’re making the right choice. Consider the reasons why you’re refusing the interview.

For example, you feel that the role isn’t a good fit, or you’ve received a better offer. Are these intentions genuine and valid?

It’s normal to feel uncomfortable when saying no to an interview. What’s important is to be kind and respectful to avoid burning bridges.

Note that you don’t have to say everything to your recruiter. A short explanation is more than enough.

Why Decline an Interview?

Have you recently received an offer for a position that’s not your dream job?

Are you dreading the thought of working at this company? If so, refusing this job opportunity can be beneficial to both you and your recruiter.

Here are some acceptable reasons to turn down an interview:

You Accepted Another Job Offer

It’s common for applicants to receive multiple job offers at once. Receiving a better offer is a valid reason to decline an interview.

As a job seeker, it’s your responsibility to prioritize positions that are closely aligned with your career goals.

That said, don’t feel guilty about saying no to an offer that’s not the best for your future.

You’re No Longer Interested in the Position

After applying, it’s possible for you to discover that the position involves plenty of travel or working hours.

In some cases, your recruiter will tell you that the role requires further education. You could also have a scheduled interview with a different company on the same day.

If you’ve lost your interest in the position, inform your recruiter right away, and feel free to move on.

You Are Overqualified for the Position

Do your skills and education exceed the position, salary, or job description? If so, know that it’s alright to decline the interview.

This decision allows a more suitable candidate to take your slot. At the same time, you’ll stay open to more challenging and rewarding roles.  

You’re 100% Sure You Do Not Want to Proceed

Another reason to say no is if you’re certain that you don’t want to continue the application. It could be because of an unreasonable hiring process.

Some employers require countless tests, meetings, and papers before giving applicants a chance.

It could also be because your current job has offered you a remote job or a promotion, and you no longer want to leave.

When Should You Decline an Interview?

The most appropriate time to turn down a first or second interview is several days before the scheduled date.

Replying too fast can sometimes be interpreted as being dismissive. It can also make the recruiter doubt your interest in the position.

A one-day gap is generally sufficient. This gives the interviewer time to reach out to other applicants. At the same time, this also gives you an opportunity to completely ponder your decision.

If you’re not sure, try asking a career coach for guidance and career advice.

Here are a few cases where it’s alright to say no to an interview:

  • When you’ve spotted signs of workplace toxicity
  • When there are changes in your life plans
  • When the company lacks openness and diversity

How to Decline an Interview

Sending an email to your interviewer is a fast and convenient way of refusing an offer. Meanwhile, talking to the recruiter appears more intimate and personal.

Either way, try to decline your job interview with grace and respect.

Respond by Email

Email is one of the most common forms of communication between job seekers and employers. Thus, turning down an interview via email is acceptable.

The best piece of advice to follow is KISS—keep it short and simple. Refer to letter samples or templates for additional guidance.

Timing is another key consideration in declining an offer. Show that you’ve thoroughly considered the invitation before replying. Respond at a reasonable pace that’s neither too fast nor slow.

Avoid mentioning negative reasons for saying no to the interview. Don’t compare companies or complain about the hiring process.

Try to recommend another suitable candidate for the position. Make sure to get their consent first before providing contact information.

Make a Phone Call

If you’ve decided to decline an interview over the phone, make the call during reasonable hours.

Begin with a warm greeting and a message of thanks before saying no to the offer. The hiring manager will want to know the reason for your decision, so prepare an explanation.

In some cases, recruiters will attempt to negotiate or provide a better offer. Regardless of your response, wish them luck at the end of the call.

You can even say that you’re happy to reconnect with them in the future. Observe the same interview etiquette as if you were still communicating with a potential employer.

What to Say in an Interview Declining Email

One crucial thing to remember is that declines sent by email should be properly worded. Respectfully turning down a job interview invitation leaves the door open for a future opportunity.

As soon as you’re sure of your decision not to proceed, promptly send an email to the hiring manager. This provides ample time for the interviewer to accommodate another interested candidate.

Your email doesn’t have to be long or detailed. A good rule of thumb is to keep your response around ten sentences or less. Try to maintain a positive and friendly tone as well.

Briefly mention the following in your email:

  • Gratitude and appreciation for the interview opportunity
  • The intention of declining the invitation
  • A short explanation behind your decision

Sample Declining an Interview Email

Here is an email sample to guide you on canceling an interview after accepting another offer:

Dear (name of the recruiter),

I am deeply grateful for your interview offer regarding the Customer Service Representative position at (company name).

After much consideration, I’ve decided to decline this interview for now. This is because I have recently accepted an offer from another organization.

I wish you and the hiring department at (company name) success in finding the right individual for this role. Many thanks for your time and interest in my application.


(your name)

Wrapping Up

The proper way to decline an interview can be summarized in three simple steps. Thank your recruiter, state your intention, and keep the message short and respectful. Additional things to consider are proper tone and timing.

If you have any questions regarding job interviews, feel free to leave a comment! Turning down offers doesn’t have to be hard. All you have to do is be prompt and genuine in your response!

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