How To Decline An Interview (With Examples)

By Samantha Goddiess - Jul. 22, 2021

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If you’ve applied to a position that you are no longer interested in, you may find yourself needing to decline an interview offer. You don’t want to waste the interviewer’s time or your own time, for that matter.

It is very important that you decline the interview properly, though. Failing to do it right can burn bridges you don’t want to lose.

There are plenty of reasons to decline an interview:

  • The position no longer interests you.

  • You applied without really doing your research. The more you look, the more you realize that this position, or the company, isn’t the right fit for you.

  • You’ve received a job offer from another company and have accepted that position.

  • Your availability has changed, and you’re no longer able to work the desired hours.

  • You have made the decision to stay in your current position.

  • Taking the interview may put your current position at risk, and you are unwilling to change it.

  • You’ve realized the commute isn’t feasible for you.

  • You’ve spoken to current employees, and they are unhappy.

Whatever your reason for declining the invitation to interview, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about turning it down.

Declining an Interview Invitation

Declining an interview is different from rescheduling an interview or canceling an interview that has already been scheduled. There are a few steps to take before declining an interview invitation. They are separated into two categories: before declining and the actual act of declining the invite.

Before you decline the invitation

  • Be sure. You don’t need to give the employer, or recruiter, a reason for turning down the interview. It is, however, important for you to be sure of your decision before officially declining.

    Once the interview is declined, that’s it. There is no changing that decision. So, make sure that your reasoning for choosing to decline is solid.

    Before declining the interview, you should:

    • Take time to consider your decision. Don’t make a knee-jerk reaction and decline without thought. Take the time to think through your decision and make sure it is the right one for you.

    • Remember that an interview invitation is not the same as a job offer. If you are unsure about your decision or the position, consider taking the interview. An interview is not an offer of employment. And, the interview itself may help you to come to a final decision.

    • Be aware of your motivations to decline. Interviews can cause anxiety and doubt. Don’t let that be the only reason you’re declining. Don’t let the belief that you are getting an offer elsewhere turn you away, either. Until that offer is in hand, then it’s not real.

  • Don’t ignore the invitation. Once you’ve made your decision to decline the interview, don’t just ignore it. Although it may be easier to simply push it out of sight and out of mind but your decision to ignore the invitation versus outright declining it will not look good.

    It can easily leave the employer, recruiter, or hiring manager with a bad taste that can haunt you for years to come.

    Simply put, it’s unprofessional. Ignoring the invite will burn just as many bridges as declining it improperly.

  • Respond to the invitation quickly. While it is certainly important to be sure that you want to decline (see the first bullet point), it is also very important that you respond to the employer, or recruiter, quickly.

    You should respond to an interview invitation within 24 hours — whether or not you’re declining.

Declining the invite

  • Be courteous. Don’t burn your bridges. Don’t make yourself look unprofessional or unhirable. When you are declining the interview, be sure to be polite and respectful. Being rude or unprofessional can affect your hireability in the future.

    You may want to apply to other opportunities within that company in the future, or you may run into the hiring manager somewhere else along the line. These people may network with others in your industry.

    It may seem like a simple thing to turn down an interview invitation, but it can have an impact if you don’t do it right.

  • Be vague. Again, you don’t need to give them a reason for declining the interview. You simply need to inform them that you are declining the interview and thus the opportunity, so they can move forward with other candidates.

    You can and should offer a simple explanation in your response. A change in circumstances or having already accepted another offer are acceptable as reasons to include. Other reasons could end up working against you (see the above bullet point), so try to stick to these two options.

How to Decline an Interview

Email is the simplest way to decline an Interview. Not only is it simple, but it allows you to craft a clear, concise, and polite response. A live phone conversation can put you on the spot and have you saying the wrong things.

However, there are circumstances where a live phone conversation is your only option. If the interview request is via phone and you are already sure you are going to decline it, you may not have a choice. Voicemail is another option.

If you have been communicating exclusively with one person or have already had at least one interview for the position, you should send an email and call.

There is one big no-no. This no-no is even bigger than being rude. Don’t text. It is far too casual a form of communication, and it will come off as extremely unprofessional.

When sending your email, be sure to send it to your primary contact within the organization. If you have been in consistent contact with several members of the organization, you should send separate messages to each one.

Remember that this is a professional conversation. Speak professionally on the phone, use a proper subject in your emails, and begin and end your emails properly.

  1. Example Answer 1: RIGHT Interview Rejection via Live Phone Call

    Thank you so much for the opportunity. Unfortunately, I must decline, I have been offered a position at another company, and I have already accepted.

  2. Example Answer 2: WRONG Interview Rejection via Live Phone Call

    Thanks for considering me, but I got a better offer. My new job is at a better company that is closer to my house and offered me a lot more money for less responsibility. Please lose my number.

  3. Example Answer 3: RIGHT Interview Rejection via Email: Accepted Another Offer

    Subject: Interview for [Job Title] – [Your Name]

    Dear [Name of Contact],

    I am grateful for the opportunity to interview with [Company Name] for the [Job Title] position. At this time, I must decline the invitation.

    Since submitting my application, I have been offered a position with another company and accepted the job.

    Thank you again for considering me for this position. I wish you all the best in your search for the right candidate.

    Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

    Sincerely,
    [Your Name]
    [Your Phone Number]

  4. Example Answer 4: WRONG Interview Rejection via Email: Accepted Another Offer

    Subject: [Job Title] Interview – [Your Name]

    To Whom It May Concern,

    While I’m happy that you found me a worthy candidate to interview, I am turning down your interview invitation. I was offered a better position at a better company, and I have accepted their offer.

    Ciao,
    [Your Name]
    [Your Phone Number]

  5. Example Answer 5: RIGHT Interview Rejection via Email: Circumstances Changed

    Subject: Interview for [Job Title] on [Date]

    Dear [Name of Contact],

    Thank you for considering me for the [Job Title] position and inviting me to interview and learn more about [Company Name].

    Unfortunately, at this time I must decline the invitation. Due to recent changes in my circumstances, I am forced to withdraw my application.

    I apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your time and consideration. I wish you the best of luck in your search.

    Sincerely,
    [Your Name]
    [Your Phone Number]

  6. Example Answer 6: WRONG Interview Rejection via Email: Circumstances Changed

    Subject: No Thanks

    Hey,

    Thanks for the invite, but I will be declining this invitation. I found out that I am pregnant and decided to stay in the position that I’m currently in.

    Good luck,
    [Your Name]

  7. Example Answer 7: RIGHT Interview Rejection via Email: No Reason

    Subject: Thank you for the opportunity to interview for [Job Title] on [Date]

    Dear [Name of Contact],

    I appreciate the offer and would like to thank you for considering me for the [Job Title] position at [Company Name]. I must decline the interview at this time.

    I apologize for the inconvenience and wish you the best of luck in your search.

    Sincerely,
    [Your Name]
    [Your Phone Number]

  8. Example Answer 8: WRONG Interview Rejection via Email: No Reason

    Subject: RSVP No

    Hi Hiring Manager,

    I am glad to have been considered for this position, but I won’t be accepting the interview for the [Job Title] position at [Company Name]. Please remove me from consideration. I am no longer interested in this role with your company.

    Best of luck to you.

    Bye,
    [Your Name]
    [Your Phone Number]

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Author

Samantha Goddiess

Samantha is a lifelong writer who has been writing professionally for the last six years. After graduating with honors from Greensboro College with a degree in English & Communications, she went on to find work as an in-house copywriter for several companies including Costume Supercenter, and Blueprint Education.

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