Throughout the entire jobseeking process, the goal is to land a job interview and be offered the role you are applying for, so you will usually be delighted to have an interview meeting come your way.

However, there are a number of reasons why you may need to decline an interview offer, such as:

  • You may have accepted another role, been offered a promotion, or decided to stay at your current job
  • You have decided through phone interviews or earlier stages of the interview process that the organisation or role is not for you
  • A friend, colleague or professional contact may have advised you to not proceed based on their knowledge of the company and/or your career goals
  • Your research on the role, team and company uncovers a lack of alignment between your goals and theirs
  • The culture of the organisation doesn’t align to what you are looking for
  • The role may have required a relocation or a schedule change which is no longer in your plans
  • Something about the role isn’t what you are looking for, for example location, commute, or salary

If any of the above happens to you, you should decline an interview offer in the most professional and appropriate way possible so as not to damage your career networks or reputation, and not to jeopardize any future opportunities and job offers.

Here is how to decline an interview offer in the best possible way:

Be sure you want to decline an interview offer

Are you sure that this is the path you want to take? There is no way you can go back if you have declined the offer. It will make you look unpredictable and unplanned, which are not good traits for an employee to have.

Make sure you raise your concerns first

If you’re thinking of declining an interview offer due to a number of concerns, ask yourself if they are solvable by asking the hiring manager to clarify any questions you might have. Your concerns or doubts may be resolved, meaning that you do not have to forgo an interview opportunity after all. If they are not resolved, you will likely feel better when you decline an interview offer.

Be timely with your response

It is rude to keep the hiring manager waiting for a response, and inconsiderate of other candidates who could be taking your interview place. As soon as you know, you should let them know, and you shouldn’t take days or weeks to make a decision.

Ensure the hiring manager has received your response

You will likely receive an interview offer or meeting request via email. Ensure you respond via email and decline an interview offer in this way. If you do not hear a response, or if you were offered an interview over the phone, you should consider a follow up phone call to ensure they received your message.

Don’t ignore the hiring manager

Even if you have decided that the role is not for you, you owe the hiring manager the professional courtesy of advising them of your change in decision. It would be rude and shameful not to.

Keep your message short and simple

You do not need to mention anything personal or anything specific. It is good to keep it vague so as not to complicate any potential future interactions with the firm.

Be thankful and show your gratitude

It is a long process for every hiring manager, so showing your appreciation of their time, effort, interest, help, and their communication with you is an important thing to do.

Don’t burn bridges

Industries and professional networks can be smaller than you think, so make sure you don’t leave any situation or opportunity in a negative way. Be professional, courteous, respectful, and graceful in your communication.

Compliment the company

As long as your compliments are genuine and relevant to the role and your application, this will be well-received.

Keep in contact

Whilst you may decline an interview offer at this point in time, it does not mean that you will never interview with the company or hiring manager again. Staying in touch shows your active interest in the company and engagement within the industry, and connecting via online networks such as BizReach, Twitter or Facebook will help to keep you top of mind and a strong consideration with the hiring manager in the future.

Save a copy of the message

You may need to refer back to it if you ever have a connection with the company in the future and need to remember how you left things with them.

A sample email to decline an interview offer could be:

Email subject line: Regarding Interview Offer for (Job Title) / Interview Invitation Response

Email message content:
Dear (name of contact / name of hiring manager),

Thank you for the opportunity to interview for the role of (insert the job title here). I sincerely appreciate the time it took for you to review my application to join such a prestigious, successful, and forward-thinking team and company such as (insert company name).

At this time, I regret that I have to decline your interview offer.

Please stay in touch with me via (include your social networks or contact details), and I am sure we will cross paths in our industry in the future.

Best regards,

(your name and signoff)

Declining an interview offer isn’t easy, but if you do it the right way you can ensure your integrity and career remain intact.

If you would like help in other elements of the application process or with finding the right job, visit our job interview hub or contact us today.

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