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Declining an Interview with Appreciation and Honesty

By The ZipRecruiter Editors

There are several reasons why you might turn down an interview opportunity. Regardless of the reason for declining, there is a professional etiquette you should follow. It’s important to demonstrate respect and appreciation for the opportunity.

Considerations to keep in mind

There are a few key considerations to weigh before officially declining an interview.

Interviewing is good practice

Interviewing for a job is a skill. It requires practice and preparation. If you don’t have another job lined up, accept the interview opportunity to hone your job search skills. You might even make a helpful, professional connection, even if you inevitably turn down that employer.

You might be surprised

Make sure you are positive about your decision to turn down an interview. Reread the job description, research the company’s mission and values, and assess the salary range. If you’re even a little bit curious about the opportunity, take the interview.

Keep your options open

Don’t turn down an interview unless you’re absolutely sure that you have another option. If you don’t have a firm job offer lined up already, even if you feel pretty confident about the outlook, take the opportunity to interview with other companies just in case.

Reasons to decline an interview

With those considerations in mind, there are still some practical reasons to simply decline an interview.

Your time is valuable

The job search is time-consuming. Updating resumes, filling out applications, scheduling interviews, and connecting with references take significant time. If an interview opportunity requires a significant travel commitment, would your time be better spent doing something else?

Your personal circumstances are changing

Maybe your family is growing. Perhaps you’ve decided to move to a new city. Your personal life can take all kinds of exciting twists and turns, and some employment opportunities just won’t fit within your new normal. There’s no reason to string along an employer.

You’ve accepted another offer

If you have already accepted another job, then it isn’t appropriate to interview with other employers. If you don’t have a firm offer yet, it’s perfectly okay to keep other doors open.

The first interview was a bust

Let’s say you’ve already interviewed with a company, and the hiring manager has offered you a second-round interview. If you sense that the position is a bad fit or the hiring team gave you a bad feeling about the company culture, trust your gut and decline the interview.

Tips for turning down an interview opportunity

If you feel confident in your decision to decline the interview, take some time to prepare your response. Ideally, you can email your rejection so you can mindfully choose your words. After all, you don’t want to burn bridges by coming across as rude or disingenuous. Who knows—you might apply to that company again later in your career path.

Keep it brief

You don’t owe the hiring manager a lengthy story. Be clear that you cannot accept their offer for an interview, and thank them for their time.

Keep it positive

Don’t highlight anything negative in your refusal. Express gratitude for the opportunity and provide a brief explanation behind your decision.

Keep it professional

Take some time to craft your response. Use appropriate titles. Check your email for spelling and grammar. Use professional salutations, sign offs, and signatures. Relying on these tried-and-true techniques demonstrates respect for the hiring manager and the opportunity.

Don’t ghost them

If you receive an offer to interview, do not ignore it, even if you’re absolutely positive that you don’t want the job. Take some time to determine your decision, but let the employer know as soon as possible that they should start moving on to their other candidates.

For example:

Dear Professor Dumbledore,

Thank you for considering my application for the Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching position. I appreciate the opportunity to interview, as I greatly respect your school, but I have decided to accept another post more in line with my current professional goals.

It was a pleasure meeting you, and I wish you the best of luck in finding a great candidate for the role.


Olympe Maxime

The ZipRecruiter Editors

At ZipRecruiter, our mission is to connect employers and job seekers with their next great opportunity. On the ZipRecruiter blog, we use insider experience and data derived from our AI-driven jobs marketplace to provide advice and insights on topics such as the job search process, interviewing, and labor market trends. Start your job search or post a job today and connect with us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn!

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