4 Tips to Decline an Interview Without Burning Bridges

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. In this case, you might wonder how to decline a job interview 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 help you decline a job interview 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 with your cancel job interview request. 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

When it comes to learning how to decline a job interview, the key thing to remember is be honest and 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 why you want to decline an interview. 

If you frame the discussion in a polite and respectful way, you’ll create little danger of hurting any feelings with a cancel job interview request. 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 when you decline an interview 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 with a cancel job interview request, 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. This is why it’s crucial to learn how to decline a job interview without burning bridges. 

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.


How To Cancel A Job Interview Because You Got A Job

If you’re wondering how to decline a job interview because you got a job, it’s crucial, to be honest about it. Be direct and tell the company you have a more suitable offer. Don’t go into details about your new job unless they ask about it. In some cases, they might appreciate your feedback. 


When is it Too Late to Cancel an Interview?

It’s never too late to decline an interview, but in an ideal world, you should give at least a week’s notice. Let the company know as soon as possible so they can allocate the space to someone else. Giving the company plenty of notice with a cancel job interview request is courteous and shows that you respect their time.

If you’re wondering how to decline a job interview at short notice – it’s better to give a minimum of 24 hours. If you realize you want to decline the interview less than 24 hours ahead, you should still officially cancel. It’s better to give short notice rather than not showing up or attending and taking up time and resources for a job you don’t want.  


How to Cancel A Job Interview Via Email

If you want to know how to decline a job interview by email, the crucial thing is to be direct. Highlight your request in the subject line with something like “cancel job interview” so it doesn’t get overlooked. You don’t have to go into lots of detail – keep it simple and to the point and be polite and professional. Apologize for the inconvenience and thank them for the opportunity.

If they don’t read or respond to your cancel job interview email, always follow up with a phone call. If you want to decline an interview last minute, it’s better to call first because they might not get your email on time.


Need Help Finding Your Next Job?

Contact Hiregy today to find out how our recruiting solutions can help your company connect to exceptional job candidates. Call us in Tampa at 813-449-4800 and in Orlando at 407-270-2700.