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How to Politely Turn Down a Job Interview and Be Professional

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Even if you decide you’re not interested in a position you applied for, it’s important to treat the employer with professionalism and respect. When declining a job interview, remember that recruiters change jobs, too, and that the person you turn down today might be the same person considering your application at another company in the future.

Decline Promptly

Don’t leave employers waiting on your answer while you work up the nerve to say no or while you weigh your options. If you’ve already accepted another job or you are sure the position’s not right for you, contact the employer as soon as possible, preferably the same day. If you’ve already attended a first- or second-round interview for the job, you can also tell the employer at the end of your meeting that you don’t feel the position is a good fit and you feel it best to decline additional interviews.

Express Appreciation

Even if you’re not remotely interested in the job or the company, thank the employer for evaluating your application and for thinking you’re qualified enough to invite in for an interview. Acknowledge the difficulty involved in narrowing down the applicant pool and let the employer know you’re not taking your decision lightly. If he feels you wasted his time by applying for a position you weren’t seriously interested in, he might not consider you if your resume crosses his desk in the future. In addition, recruiters talk to each other, and you could earn a reputation for applying for jobs you don’t plan to accept.

Call the Employer

With difficult discussions it’s often more professional to handle them in person instead of via email or a voice mail. In addition, some hiring managers receive hundreds of emails a day and might miss yours. Call the employer so you can have a conversation. Even if you’re not interested in this job, the company may have an opening later that’s a perfect fit. This phone call is your opportunity to establish rapport with a decision-maker within your industry. It also demonstrates that you care enough to deliver the news one-on-one instead of using an easier – and more impersonal – method.

Explain Your Reasons

Always offer a solid reason for turning down the interview, so the employer knows you’ve given the decision careful thought. If you’ve already accepted another position, tell the employer you appreciate the chance to interview but that you just accepted another company’s offer. If the position was your first choice, tell the employer if you hadn’t already taken another job you’d be very interested in learning more about the company and you hope an opportunity might exist in the future. If your personal circumstances or career goals have changed, briefly mention this and stress that at the time you applied the job was a perfect match for your interests and skills.