How To Politely Decline A Job Interview (With Example)

by | Finding A Job, Interviewing

It can feel awkward to decline a job interview. You want to be polite and respectful while also being mindful of your bandwidth, so you don’t waste your time on job interviews that don’t make sense in terms of your career trajectory.

In this article, I answer common questions about rejecting a job interview, including:

  • Is it okay to decline a job interview?
  • How do you politely decline a job interview?
  • Is it okay to decline an interview at the last minute?

I also share a sample email you can use to respectfully decline a job interview without burning bridges. Let’s dive in:

Is it okay to decline a job interview?

As a tech career and interview coach, I tend to encourage job seekers to accept most job interview offers that come their way, even if the role or company doesn’t feel like a fit, as you never know what may come as a result of a conversation.

If a potential role seems too small for you, it can still be a good idea to meet with the recruiter to learn more about the company, culture, and team. Importantly, roles often have the opportunity for your position to be up-leveled or adjusted, especially in the tech industry.

Additionally, if this particular job opening simply isn’t a fit, the recruiter may have other requisitions that more closely align with your background, experience, and interests.

Moreover, the world is small, and you never know whether this person knows someone in another department or at another company who is hiring for a role that’s a better fit for you.

[Read: How To Best Message A Recruiter On LinkedIn (With Examples)]

That said, there are several reasons to reject an interview, especially if you’re someone who tends to be presented with more meetings than you can handle.

Common Reasons To Turn Down An Interview Offer

There are a number of situations where you may wish to turn down a job interview:

How do I politely decline a job interview?

Once you’ve decided you want to reject an interview, what steps should you take?

For starters, you want to show gratitude for the offer to meet for an interview, even if it’s a role you’re not particularly interested in, since you want to avoid burning bridges.

Next, if the company is one you trust, and you know someone else who may be a better fit for the role, you can share their name and contact info with the recruiter.

Finally, let the interviewer know if you wish to be considered for future opportunities at the company.

Is it okay to decline an interview last minute?

Another situation that comes up from time to time is having to decline an interview at the last minute. While it’s best to not accept an interview if you have to ultimately decline it, life happens.

If you find yourself in this type of situation, the steps you should take will be similar:

  • Respond as soon as possible, notifying the interviewer that you won’t be attending the meeting.
  • Express your gratitude for the opportunity to interview in the first place.
  • Keep the door open to future openings with the company (if you wish).

How do I respectfully decline a job interview without burning bridges? Example Email

How do I respectfully decline a job interview without burning bridges? Example Email

So what do you say when turning down a job interview? The following is a sample message you can send to politely decline an interview request without burning bridges with a prospective employer:

Hello [Recruiter’s Name],

Thank you for offering to meet with me to discuss the [Position] position at [Company Name].

While this role sounds like a great opportunity, I won’t be able to accept the interview offer at this time. 

Please do keep me in mind for future [Functional Area] opportunities with [Company Name].

Thank you again!

Kind regards,
[Your Name]

You’ll notice that this sample message is polite, respectful, and to the point while keeping the door open to future opportunities with the company. Of course, please feel free to add your personal touch and a dash of personality to the message.

Final Thoughts On Politely Declining A Job Interview Without Burning Bridges

While it can feel uncomfortable to reject a job interview, please know that the typical recruiter is juggling dozens of roles and hundreds of candidate interviews. Consequently, they won’t hold it against you if you decline a meeting, as long as you’re polite, respectful, and timely in your communication. You’ve got this!

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION

ADDITIONAL ARTICLES BY DR. KYLE ELLIOTT

Currently Booking New Coaching Clients For May 2024 & Forward — Schedule A Consultation Now

CaffeinatedKyle.com Job Search Launch Guide

Unlock Your FREE Job Search Launch Guide

Looking for a new role? Access my FREE Job Search Launch Guide and learn where to focus your time, energy, and effort so you can find a job you love.

Because the job search can quickly become overwhelming, I've broken this down into an easy-to-follow, 5-step process to help you get started. You've got this!

Thank you for registering! Check your email inbox for your guide from CaffeinatedKyle.com.