Friday Forum – How to Reject a Job Interview?

Welcome to the Friday Forum!

Every Friday, we take a question submitted by one of our readers and have our professionals field it and provide advice.  We then encourage members of the Need a New Gig community to comment below and give their take!

Here is This Week’s Question:

Matt asks:

“Last week I had an interview for a new position and I was surprised as it didn’t go exactly as I had expected.  Prior to my interview, I had a phone call with the Hiring Manager and we seemed to connect, so I was very excited about meeting him and also their VP of HR.  I put on my best suit, arrived ten minutes early, and signed in at the front desk.  As soon as I walked in, I knew that this wasn’t the environment for me.  The office was very loud and messy, and it lacked the professional atmosphere that I am used to.  I contemplated leaving, but I decided to stick it out and at least see what they had to say.  I waited in the waiting area for roughly twenty minutes and then a young gentleman asked me if I was there for an interview.  I nodded and he showed me to the conference room.  He didn’t know my name and I had to ask him who he was (turned out to be a member of their HR staff).  He asked if I had a copy of my resume, so I gave him one and he started asking some basic questions that didn’t relate to the job.  After about fifteen minutes, the Hiring Manager did come in and we continued the interview, but the VP of HR who was on my interview schedule never showed up.  After talking with the Hiring Manager, he confirmed my concerns about the company and the opportunity so I knew in my head that this wasn’t the right fit for me.  Long story short, I just received an email from the Hiring Manager asking me to come in for a final interview.  How do I politely reject the interview request and let him know that I am no longer interested?”

Some candidates may read this piece and think that it is crazy for a jobseeker to turn down an interview.  The thing to remember is that not every interview is a great opportunity.  While your main goal may be to find a new job, it is important to make sure that it is the right job.  I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a candidate take a position and either go back to their former employer or restart their search almost immediately.  I always recommend interviewing the interviewer, gauging the environment, and really weighing if you think it is the right fit for you.

Why would you reject a job interview?

Again, while it may seem crazy to some, there is definitely some logic behind passing on a job interview.  Here are a few common examples:

  • Accepted another position or promotion
  • Interview process is too lengthy and you don’t want to raise any concerns at your current employer
  • You have already had one interview and have decided that this isn’t the right fit for you
  • You know people who have worked/currently work there and they don’t think it is the right fit for you
  • Your situation has changed and you are no longer looking for a new role

Regardless of your reason to reject an interview, it is important to approach it cautiously.  The hiring world is well connected and you do not want to make a bad name for yourself.  While these things happen, if it isn’t handled correctly, it could make it more difficult for you to land an interview next time you decide to look.

How to reject a job interview?

There are primarily two ways to reject a job interview.  You can either send a message via email or you can place a phone call.  Both methods work, but sending an email may be easier as it will lessen the blow for all involved.  Weather you decide to email or call, be sure to stick to the plan below.

Respond to the request as soon as possible

Since you already know you want to pass on the interview, there is no reason to waste anyone’s time.  Do the employer a favor, be transparent, and let them know as soon as you can.  As I mentioned above, the hiring world is close knit so you do not want to take a chance of burning a bridge and having it get back to you.

Be direct and to the point

It is best to be short and sweet in this situation.  Many times if you ramble or provide too much detail you can dig yourself a hole.  Directly give your reason for passing and be done.

Suggest another candidate

This is a great way to put a positive spin on the process.  If you know someone that may be a fit, feel free to pass along their information.  If not, a simple “let me see if I know of anyone that may have interest” shows the employer that you are trying to help.

Thank them

Make sure that you thank the company for their time and consideration.  You can also ask them to keep you in mind for future opportunities that may be a better match.

Reach out to main contact

Finally, make sure that you send it to your primary contact.  This could be the Hiring Manager if you have been dealing with them directly, or maybe a recruiter, or someone in HR.

Sample E-Mail Message

“Hi Rebecca,
Thanks so much for reaching out.  After some thought, I have decided that this role isn’t exactly what I am looking for at this time.  I have been interviewing for a couple of Manager level opportunities and I feel that they may be a better fit for my background.  I wanted to thank you for your consideration and your time.  Let me see if I can think of anyone that maybe be a fit for the Senior lever role, and I will send over their information.  Feel free to stay in touch and please let me know if you are ever looking for any Manager level candidates.
Best Regards,
John Smith”

Sample Phone Call

Rebecca: Good Morning, this is Rebecca.
Candidate: Hi Rebecca, this is John Smith giving you a call back regarding scheduling the interview for your open position.
Rebecca: Hi John!  Yes, I wanted to see if you were available next Tuesday at 2:00 to come in and meet with some additional members of the team?
Candiate: I actually wanted to give you a quick call to let you know that after some thought I have decided this role isn’t exactly what I am looking for at this point.
Rebecca: Darn, we were looking forward to having you come back in!
Candidate: I think that the biggest thing is that I since I have previous Management experience I want to primarily focus on Manager level positions.  I am actually interviewing for two other Manager level roles at the moment.
Rebecca: That is completely understandable.  At this time I do not have any Manager level openings, but I did hear that we may have something coming available in about six week.  Can I give you a call then to see if you are still available?
Candidate:  That would be wonderful.  Thank you again for your time and I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

What are Your Thoughts? Comment Below!

Have you ever rejected an interview? How did the employer respond?

Dan Metz is the Director of Executive Search and Employee Development at the Resilience Group, LLC, and Co-Founder and Contributing Author for Need a New Gig.  Follow his blog for more great tips like this!

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