How to decline an interview the proper way!

Did you apply to a couple of vacancies, and receive invitations for all of them? Now you want to decline, but don’t know how. We provide 3 scenarios on how to decline a job interview politely in this article. You’ll also find examples of how to write a rejection email for a job interview. Ghosting recruiters is not the way to go if you don't want to burn any bridges or be seen as impolite. So, put on your reading glasses, and dive into the best ways to decline an interview!

Reasons people would decline an interview:

There are different scenarios that can pop-up that’ll make you want to decline a job interview. For example, maybe you’d have to spend too much time commuting back and forth. Or, you’re just simply not looking for (another) job at the moment. Another example could be that you need to decline the job interview due to salary, or some other reason. The bottom line is, that for whatever reason you’re thinking about declining an interview – it’s okay! We'll dive deeper into some scenarios of how you can decline an interview in this article.

3 scenarios on how to decline a job interview

There are multiple factors that can affect your reasons for declining an interview – we've gathered 3 examples here:

1. How to decline a job interview due to location:

So, maybe you have a LinkedIn profile, and a hiring manager approached you for an online interview. The position, pay, and workload are up to your standards. But then, you notice that the company is situated in an inconvenient location, or the new job would require you to travel a lot. Or, maybe your commuting costs would increase dramatically, which in the end wouldn't benefit you.

Before you reject an interview, express your worries and see if there are any opportunities to improve the situation. For example, a solution for this could be to work remotely. However, not every company allows this. If they weren't able to offer a solution or meet you halfway on your concerns, then you can start thinking on how to turn down an interview.

The best way to decline a job interview due to the location is to write an email to the hiring manager. Explain your concerns and what's stopping you from participating in the interview. This helps them take this into consideration for other candidates in the future. Most employers appreciate honest feedback, and this is also a way to build a connection/expand your network. And, who knows, they might even approach you again in the future with a more convenient vacancy.

2. How to decline an interview due to salary:

You might have said yes to a job interview, only to find out later that the salary is lower than you expected. Or, you've got an offer from another company that's way higher than this company offers.

Well, if you don't feel comfortable outing your concerns in person or over the phone, write an email. In this email, you can state the lowest you're willing to go when it comes to the salary. Want all the details about how to negotiate your salary? Check out our tips.

Don't forget to thank them for their time. At the end of your email, state that if this is not something that if that can be negotiated, you'd like to cancel the upcoming interview. Or, that you'd like to apply for a position that matches your skills, experience, and salary wishes. This is also a way of not burning the bridge completely, and still showing that you're not only in it for the salary.

3. How to cancel an interview last minute:

Maybe you've lost your job, panicked, and started applying for tons of vacancies. After some time, all the interview offers start coming in at the same time. But now because you've got options, you realise that you're not actually interested in all of them. Or maybe you got a job offer from a company that you really want to work for on the same day as another job interview. Even though it might feel a bit awkward, it's still nice to quickly give the hiring manager a call to cancel the interview.

In this situation, a phone call would be most suitable, since it might take them some time to see your email. Some people lie about the reason they're declining an interview last minute, but how does that saying go? Oh, yeah, right: honesty's the best policy. You can tell them that you're cancelling the interview because you got another great job offer. They might even try to negotiate with you or convince you to still partake in the interview. You might even end up getting a better offer, but you'll never know if you don't tell them the truth.

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How to write a rejection email for a job interview

Well, it'll depend on your situation. However, it's important that you personalise your email, and not write the generic rejection email. Thank the hiring manager(s) for taking the time to offer an interview. And then, give your honest but polite reason why you're declining the interview. An example would look like:

Dear [hiring manager],

I would like to thank you for taking the time to meet with me about the [role title] at [company's name]. It was a pleasure getting to know more about the company's values and work culture. [state some examples of things that you liked]. But sadly, I don't think I see a future for myself at [company name] due to [state your reason(s)]. If you see the possibility to still negotiate on this, or try to meet each other halfway, I'd like to hear about it. Otherwise, I wish to cancel our next interview, and who knows, in the future we might meet again.

Kind regards,

[your name]

If you haven't had the first interview yet, but want to reject the possibility of even having one. For instance, if you get recruited through LinkedIn, here's an example:

Dear [hiring manager],

Thank you for expressing your interest in me for the [role title] position. However, I'm currently happily employed/am not looking for a new job. But, I would like to keep in touch with you – who knows what the future holds.

Kinds regards,

[your name]

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How to decline an interview: Key takeaways

Even though it might feel uncomfortable declining an interview, remember that it’s totally okay! There are different reasons why you’d want to cancel or decline an interview. The three most common reasons are due to location, salary, and a better offer elsewhere. It’s important to reject the interview in a polite way so that you don’t burn any bridges. You can send a ‘Thank You’ email, or respond to the LinkedIn message you received. The most important thing is that you give a response; don’t ghost them.

Maybe you're the one receiving the rejection letter or email, instead of sending one. Don't fret, catch up with our tips on how to respond to a rejection email. If you're tired of getting tons of rejection emails, maybe it's time to update your CV; try our quick and easy CV builder tool.

FAQs about how to decline an interview

  • What's the best way to decline an interview without burning any bridges?

  • You can do it by phone, email, or letter. The most common nowadays is email. However, if you're declining an interview last minute, it's best to call, since it may take some time for the hiring manager to see your email.

  • Is it unprofessional to decline an interview?

  • No, it’s not. Many people feel uncomfortable or awkward when it comes to saying no. They fail to keep in mind that it’s all about the way you say it. So, as long as you decline an interview in a polite and professional way – go for it.

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