If you realize in the middle of the interview process that a job just isn’t what you’re looking for, it’s perfectly acceptable to bow out -- as long as you do so gracefully. Always show an appreciation for the interviewer’s time and let him know you’re honored that he regarded you as a strong contender for the position.
Withdraw your candidacy as soon as you know you’re not interested in the job. Leaving employers in limbo while you weigh your options or second-guess your decision wastes their time and can damage your professional reputation. If you know during the interview that the job isn’t right for you, let the employer know before you leave. If he calls or emails you to schedule a followup interview, reply as soon as you can, preferably by the end of the day.
Keep It Positive
No matter what you think of the job or the company, frame your message in a positive and appreciative light. After all, if you applied for the position, you must have seen at least one or two positive aspects to the job. Thank the employer for taking the time to review your application and meet with you to discuss your qualifications. Let him know you realize that evaluating so many applicants is a time-consuming and difficult task. Mention what you do like about the job, whether it’s the friendly workplace atmosphere or the opportunity to give back to the community through your work.
Explain Your Decision
State your reason for turning down further interviews so the employer knows you’ve given your decision careful consideration. Don’t criticize the job or the company, but do be honest. If you felt the corporate culture was too restrictive, tell the employer you don’t think you’d be a good match for the rest of the team. If the salary is too low, stress that you have a family to support and you’re seeking something with greater financial security. If you’ve accepted another job, say that you think the job is attractive but that you’ve been offered another job that’s a better fit for your skills and career goals.
Even though you’re turning down the position, this may not necessarily be the end of the road with the company or the employer. You might want to apply for another job there in the future, or the employer might move to a company you’re more interested in working for. He’ll remember how you handled yourself during your last interaction, so leave him with a positive final impression. Send a thank-you note just as you would after an interview. Mention how much you enjoyed meeting with him and learning about the company and the job.