Searching for a job can sometimes put you in awkward social situations. For example, sometimes you receive an invitation to an interview but aren’t really interested in pursuing the opportunity. How can you decline without burning any bridges?

Navigating these circumstances correctly can have important implications for your career. Some industries are extremely close-knit. You might want to work with this particular employer in the future. Even if that doesn’t happen, you might cross paths with some of the specific individuals running the job search. If that happens, you want them to remember you fondly.

It’s best to build strong relationships with everyone you meet along your career journey. That includes those rare occurrences when you’ve been offered an interview but don’t want to attend. Here are four tips to let you say “no” without leaving a bad taste at the company:

How to Politely Decline a Job Interview

Respond Quickly

The HR staffers running the hiring process have deadlines to keep. They also have bosses they need to report to. Don’t dawdle and put them in an uncomfortable position. As soon as you know you don’t want to accept the interview, let them know.

Also, this should go without saying, but never ghost a potential employer. Even though this might seem like an obvious point of etiquette, many candidates ignore it. According to Indeed, more than one out of every four job candidates (28%) have ghosted an employer during the course of a year.

Don’t be part of that statistic. This particular position might not fit your current plans, but you never know what the future holds.

Be Direct and Honest

Don’t make up excuses. There’s no need to invent family emergencies or come up with a “it’s not you, it’s me” response. Instead, be upfront about your reasons for turning down the interview.

If you frame the discussion in a polite and respectful way, you’ll create little danger of hurting any feelings. At the same time, remember that this is a professional setting. The HR staffers realize that you have other options — the fact that you’ve taken another job or have decided to pursue other opportunities won’t spark any emotional response.

Finally, the company might be able to use your feedback to improve their recruiting. If they are losing candidates because competitors offer higher salaries, the firm can use that information to improve their pay structure. They will likely want the data.

Stay Polite

Providing a direct response doesn’t mean you need to veer into brutal honesty. Remain diplomatic in your response. Consider the feelings of the people on the other side of the exchange.

Meanwhile, take steps to preserve their high opinion of you. They obviously saw something interesting in you — otherwise, they wouldn’t have invited you to the interview in the first place. A healthy and professional communication will ensure that this good feeling remains as you head off into the sunset.

To stay polite, you’ll need to put some time and energy into your response. It might seem like wasted effort, but a few extra minutes spent formulating a response will prevent you from sending something slapdash or regrettable.

Keep Up Communication

Your engagement with a company doesn’t necessarily have to end because you’re not interested in an interview right now. As circumstances change, you might want to reconsider a position with that particular employer. If that happens, you’ll benefit from having an ongoing relationship with the HR staff there.

Continue to engage with the individuals you spoke to leading up to the interview request. Make them part of your general networking web. That way, even though the position didn’t work out this time around, everyone involved had a good experience and can extract long-term value out of the interaction.

Need Help Finding Your Next Job?

Looking for interviews you’ll be excited to attend? A top recruiter, like Hiregy, can connect you with the ideal employers to drive your career forward.

Contact Hiregy today to learn more.