How to Decline an Interview (With Email Templates Included)

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saying-no

After applying or interviewing for a job, you may find that the role is not actually a match for what you’re looking for. Once you’ve made that decision, it doesn’t make sense for your or the company to continue on in the interview process, and you’ll want to decline subsequent interview invitations.

Throughout this article, I’ll review best practices for how to decline an interview and break down differences in a couple of different scenarios – how to decline an interview before you’ve started the interview process and how to decline subsequent interview invitations after you’ve started the interview process.

Contents

How to Decline an Initial Interview Invitation

The first thing that I’ll call out here is that you shouldn’t be declining initial interview invitations very regularly. If you know what job you want and what you want to do with your life, then the jobs that you’re applying for should be consistent with that vision for your life and there wouldn’t be many instances where an interview invitation wouldn’t be worth pursuing.

That said, there definitely are legitimate reasons to decline an initial interview invitation. 

Reasons to Decline an Initial Interview Invitation

You have been offered another job that you feel would be a better fit for you

If you’re applying for multiple jobs at once, and get an offer for a job that you feel would be a better fit, it will be a no brainer for you to accept that alternate offer.

The circumstances at your current job have become more favorable

If, since the time that you applied for the alternate job, circumstances at your current job have become more favorable, it may make sense to decline an interview invitation. Examples of how your job might become more favorable could be things like you received a raise, received a promotion, the boss you didn’t like left for another job, etc.

You received new intel about the company or role that would make it unattractive to you

The company that you applied to may have recently been in the news for not so great reasons, or you may know someone that works there that shares unfavorable things about the culture that you weren’t privy to when you applied for the role.

Your life circumstances change

Let’s say that you move, and you have a strong preference to work for a local company, it wouldn’t make sense then to interview for a role that would become remote.

High-level Tips for Declining an Initial Interview Invitation

If you’ve declined to decline an invitation for an initial interview, here are some best practices to follow for how to decline the interview invitation politely and professionally:

Always respond

Even if you decide that you no longer want to interview for the role, it is respectful to respond to the invitation request. Keep in mind that there are other people that also applied for the role that you were selected over. If you respond and decline the invitation, that could open a spot for somebody else. If you don’t respond, and the company is waiting to hear from you, they may never invite somebody else if they get too far into the interview process.

Express gratitude for the opportunity

Remember that the company took the time to review your application and reach out to you personally. And that’s something to be proud of and excited about – they chose to reach out to you! Make sure you express your gratitude to the company for that.

Keep it short and professional

Particularly early on when you haven’t actually talked to anyone at the company, there’s no reason for a long explanation as to your decision. Keep it short and sweet.

Respond quickly

Generally it’s best to respond within one business day if you can, and I’d recommend no longer than two business days.

Respond via email

You’ll likely be invited to interview via email. It’s best to just decline the interview invitation in a response to that email.

One other note that I’ll call out here is there’s no reason to proactively reach out to the company to withdraw your application unless they reach out to you inviting you to an interview. Once you hear from them, then you can withdraw your name. Otherwise, no need to reach out.

Example Email for Declining an Initial Interview Invitation

Hi {First Name},

Thank you for the invitation to interview for the role of {title of job} with {name of company}. I appreciate the time you took to review my application and reach out to me.

I wanted to let you know that I’ve decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this position and will not be proceeding with the interview process.

Thank you again for reaching out to me.

Best regards,

{Your Name}

How to Decline a Subsequent Interview Invitation During the Interview Process

Declining a subsequent interview invitation after you’ve already started the interview process should be more common than declining the initial invitation. The reason for that is after you’ve interviewed with some different people at a company, you’ll begin to get more of an understanding of the role, the company, culture and who you will be working with. As you gather that additional information that you couldn’t see when you first applied, the reasons for withdrawing your name will likely build.

Here are some of the major reasons withdraw your name from an ongoing interview process:

Reasons to Decline a Subsequent Interview Invitation During the Interview Process

You find that the culture is not a fit

As discussed in the I don’t know what job I want post, it’s important to find a job and career that enables the lifestyle you want to live. If you want to spend time with your family, joining a “rise and grind” culture may not be the best fit for you. However, if you want to grow title and salary as quickly as you can, a culture like that could be a great fit for you,

You don’t feel like you’ll gel with your boss or your team

You will be spending quite a bit of time interacting with your colleagues…even more so than with your family and friends most likely. If you don’t get a good vibe from them, it’s best to withdraw your name from your process.

You find the roles and responsibilities are different than what you were expecting

As you ask questions and learn more about the role, you’ll likely develop a deeper understanding about the importance of the different responsibilities within the job description. You may find that the most important skills are responsibilities are different from what came across in the job description, and the role may become less interesting for you.

You find out the salary range is lower than your target range

This one is pretty self explanatory. If you find out the role doesn’t meet your salary requirements, it doesn’t make sense to continue on.

You’re not treated well throughout the interview process

If you experience things like your interviews showing up late or a variety of reschedules or cancellations, that’s a red flag that you may want to decline subsequent interviews. Bear in mind that during the interview process, the company should be on its best behavior to try and impress / recruit you to the role. If, during a period where the company is trying to impress you, it’s still not treating you well, that’s a major red flag.

High-level Tips for Declining a Subsequent Interview Invitation During the Interview Process

Most of the tips for declining a subsequent interview invitation are similar to the ones for declining the initial interview invitation. However, depending upon how far you get in the interview process, you may want your decline email to be more detailed and personal. The reason is that as you advance through an interview process, the company is investing more and more time in you, and you’re likely starting to form friendly relationships with HR, the hiring manager, or those you may have worked with. If that’s the case, you’ll want to really emphasize your gratitude for all of the time they put in. Additionally, communicating the reason for withdrawal, assuming it’s not something like not liking the company culture or the peers, can be helpful to the company, and may even help clarify any misunderstandings.

Example Emails for Declining a Subsequent Interview Invitation During the Interview Process

Version for If You’ve Had Multiple Interviews and Like the Company and Hiring Manager

Hi {First Name},

First off, I wanted to thank you once again for all of the time that you’ve dedicated for interviewing me for the role of {title of job} with {name of company}. I have enjoyed all of our conversations and it has been a pleasure to get to know you and learn more about the company.

I also wanted to let you know that I’ve decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this position and will not be proceeding further with the interview process. The reason for my decision is {insert professional reason}.

Thank you again for your time during the interview process and best of luck filling the role.

Best regards,

{Your Name}

Note that in this context, a call to the hiring manager may even be appropriate. That shows an extra level of personal touch, and maintains good relationships should you want to keep in touch with that manager.

Version for If You’re Early in the Interview Process and/or Don’t Like the Company

Hi {First Name},

Thank you for the time that you dedicated to interviewing me for the role of {title of job} with {name of company}.

I wanted to let you know that I’ve decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this position.

Thank you again for your time during the interview process and best of luck filling the role.

Best regards,

{Your Name}

Conclusion

After you’ve decided that a particular role isn’t a good fit for you, it doesn’t make sense for you or the company to continue on in the conversation. Ultimately, you’ll want to communicate your decision to the company, but in a way that is courteous and professional. The examples provided above give you a few templates that you can use depending upon where you are in the overall interview process. Best of luck!

About the author

Dan Slocum

Dan is the founder of Best Fit Work and is a business professional with over 10 years of experience. He has been a hiring and people manager on multiple occasions, and has also gone through the hiring process himself at a variety of different companies. Dan serves as a career counselor on the side. He writes to share content, tools, and resources to help people discover and thrive in their own best fit work.

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