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Getting invited to interview with a recruiter or a hiring manager is always an exciting time.  Whether it’s a phone interview, a traditional in-person interview, or a group interview, being invited means you’re that much closer to getting a job offer.  Interviews are the absolute best way to showcase your skills and qualifications and are a great way to make a lasting impression on the hiring manager.  But sometimes, you may opt to decline an interview.  This can be done for a variety of reasons, but how do you decline a job interview both politely and gracefully?

By-and-large the interview is the culmination of years of hard work and months of filling out online applications.  There are rigorous and time-consuming standards and processes that need to be met by the employer before they can begin inviting potential candidates to interview.  Once you have reached that phase, chances are high that you will be provided with a job offer.

However, sometimes you may need to decline the interview offer.  Although not uncommon, you will want to do so in a polite, respectful, professional, and graceful manner.  This will ensure that you do not burn any bridges and remain cordial with the employer.  Doing so politely will also ensure that you’re a viable candidate for any future positions and will be seen as a professional candidate.

Reasons To Decline An Interview

While we won’t know every reason why you may decline a phone or in-person interview, we have listed some common examples below.  This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a list of the most common examples where a candidate may opt to decline an interview invitation.

Not a good fit

Many candidates apply to a slew of open job posts in the hopes that one invites them for an interview.  It is only at this stage, after conducting your research and due diligence, that you realize that the position or the company may not be a good fit.  Whether it is due to the location of the office or a lackluster benefits list, you simply don’t see yourself fitting in at the company.

You already got another job offer

Perhaps the best-case scenario, you are offered a job interview, but you’ve already accepted or began employment at another employer.

You’re unavailable

Situations and circumstances can change quickly.  While you may have anticipated your availability, things could have changed, and you may no longer be available for the position.

You received a promotion at your current employer

You may have been unhappy or frustrated at your current employer when you applied.  However, since submitting your application, you received a promotion with a significant salary bump.  Clearly leaving now would be distasteful and you would rather stay with your current employer.

How To Decline A Job Interview

Declining a job interview is a difficult decision to make.  Regardless of your reasoning, you should do so privately and not provide more information than you need to.  This will help you to remain on good terms with the employer in case an opportunity arises in the future.

You should also note that once you have declined the interview offer, it is gone forever.  You cannot change your mind or try to convince the recruiter to give you another chance.  As such, declining a job interview should only be done after you’ve carefully thought through the situation and the scenario and have fully made up your mind.

Be 100% certain

Declining a job interview offer is an extremely sensitive topic.  Doing so will immediately disqualify you from that position for the time being.  You won’t be able to take-back your decision and should your plans, situation, or mind change, you won’t be able to have the offer resubmitted.  Take your time to fully assess the situation and whether or not you want to decline the interview offer.  We recommend speaking with a trusted friend or family member and giving yourself 24-hours to decide.

How to Decline a Job Interview

Respond within 24-hours

The last thing you want to do is to leave the recruiter or hiring manager waiting too long on your reply.  This looks worse than the actual declination of the offer.  Rather, aim to respond with your decision within 24-hours of receiving the interview offer.  Responding within 24-hours allows you to take the time you need to be certain of your decision, while remaining respectful and cognizant of the employer’s time.  Taking your time will help you feel more confident in your decision and will also allow you to compose a more professional message.

Be professional

Professionalism is the name of the game here.  Most professional industries are extremely insular, with opportunities spread across a few major companies and players.  When declining a phone or in-person interview, do so professionally and taking the time to thank both the recruiter and the hiring manager for their time and consideration.

You do not want to be curt or rude in your correspondence.  Doing so may exclude you from future opportunities at the company and may blacklist you from that employer.  In addition, not being professional will be remembered and you risk losing valuable connections.

Be Vague

The purpose of emailing the recruiter or hiring manager is to let them know that you will be declining the invite to interview.  You should not provide excuses or reasons as to why you are declining.  Rather, keep it short, direct, and professional.  Your reasons for declining the interview is yours alone and you do not need to provide a reason for it.

Sample Letter When Declining A Job Interview

Dear [NAME],

I would like to sincerely thank you for considering me for the role of [ROLE TITLE] at [COMPANY NAME].  I am extremely honored to have been invited to attend an in-person interview, however at this time I am going to have to withdraw my name from consideration for this role.

I do hope that you may consider my application for any future opportunities.  I sincerely do thank you for your time and consideration and wish you the best of luck in your search for qualified candidates.

Thank you,

[YOUR NAME]

Conclusion

Declining an invitation to interview for a job post is a big decision.  You should only do so after weighing all your options and making the decision that is best for you.  If you do decide to decline an interview request, be sure to respond to the recruiter or hiring manager within 24-hours with your decision.  You should be polite and professional in your response and leave open the possibility of future opportunities.

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