How To Turn Down an Interview (With Tips and Templates)

Updated July 31, 2023

When applying for several positions, you may hear from a hiring manager and decide that the role isn't a good fit for your interests and professional goals. If you're uninterested in a position, it's important to politely and promptly decline the interview invitation. Understanding how to handle this process tactfully can allow you to remain professional and maintain a positive reputation with companies and recruiters in your industry.

In this article, we review how to turn down an interview and provide a few templates you can use to help you handle this process with ease.

Why turn down an interview?

When you're looking for a job, it may seem wrong to turn down a chance to be considered for any position. There are a number of sound reasons to refuse an interview, including:

  • You conducted some research into the company or position and discovered that your values are incompatible with the organization or that current staff are unhappy there.

  • Changes in your personal life made a job transition unnecessary.

  • Since you applied, a different company has offered you an interview or position and you're more interested in that role.

  • Schedule changes in your personal life have made you unable to work the hours that the job requires.

  • The company has been suffering financially and taking a job there feels risky.

  • Taking the interview could risk your current employment, a chance you are unwilling to take for the position.

  • You've already gone through one or two interview rounds and lost interest in the job or company.

  • Your current employer offers you an incentive to stay such as a bonus, flexible work schedule, paid leave, or school reimbursement.

  • You want to earn more than the salary the employer offers.

Related: 5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before a Job Interview

How to politely turn down an interview

Here's how to politely turn down an interview in a way that is beneficial for both you and the company:

1. Be sure

There are several reasons you may decide to turn down the opportunity for an interview. Before you send your letter of regret, be sure you really want to cancel the interview and that you have a good reason. This is one decision you cannot take back without losing credibility, so it's important to feel confident in your decision. Here are a few tips to help you decide if you want to refuse the interview:

Take time to consider

Although you may be gauging whether you and the company are the right fit throughout the interview process, you could easily get the wrong impression too soon. If you have concerns, consider addressing them in the next interview. It may also be useful to ask who is the direct supervisor for the position.

Related: 7 Steps for How To Decide Whether To Change Jobs

Remember that a job interview isn't the same as a job offer

Interviewing, even if you're unsure about the position or the company, can provide opportunities to practice your interpersonal and interviewing skills. If you're unsure about the job, showing up for the interview may still be an informative experience. Consider taking notes right after the interview ends so you can identify what went well and determine whether you want to develop any particular interviewing skills before your next meeting with a hiring manager.

Related: Tips When Interviewing for a Job You Don't Want

Be aware of your motivations for withdrawing from consideration

Consider whether anxiety, fear or nervousness are making you want to turn down the interview. If you're nervous to meet with a hiring manager but are still interested in the position, it's important not to cancel and instead use stress management techniques to prepare. The more experience you have interviewing, the more comfortable you may feel, so you may benefit from agreeing to meet with a prospective employer even if you don't receive a job offer.

Related: How To Ask for Feedback After an Interview (With Tips)

If you're still feeling unsure after some self-reflection, consider confiding in a trusted friend

If you're debating whether or not to accept an interview invitation, consider asking a trusted friend or former colleague. They may have an in-depth understanding of your skills and professional goals, allowing them to provide you with helpful feedback.

Related: The Essential Job Search Guide (With Tips, Links and More)

2. Remain courteous

Even if you're uninterested in this particular position at this time, there could be future opportunities with the company that aligns with your interests and skills. Be sure to remain polite and professional in your communication to maintain a positive relationship. If you provide a valid reason for declining the interview, an employer is more likely to be understanding of your situation. 

Related: Important Interview Do's and Don'ts for Jobseekers

3. Keep it vague

It's important for your email to be simple, sincere and concise. It's unnecessary to provide any specific reasoning for your decision to turn down the interview. Citing a reason could be mistaken as rude or inconsiderate, harming your reputation and any chances of being employed by the organization in the future. Furthermore, it could unnecessarily extend the conversation and result in you sharing damaging details.

There are a few exceptions where it may be acceptable to decline a job interview and provide a specific reason, such as you decided to accept a job offer with another company.

Related: FAQ: How To Turn Down a Job Offer You Might Want Later

4. Respond promptly

While it's important to take enough time to think through your decision so you're confident in your choice, it's important that you let the hiring manager know as soon as possible so they have ample time to adjust their schedule or interview someone else. Be respectful of their time and the opportunities of the other job candidates. Your withdrawal can result in an opportunity for someone else who is interested in the position.

Related: How To Respond to Job Interview Requests (With Examples)

5. Refer another candidate (optional)

A good way to show your initiative and regard for the company is by providing another suitable candidate for the job. If you have someone in mind, be sure to discuss the job with them beforehand to ensure they are interested in the opportunity. You can include their name and contact information in your email.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Job Interview Etiquette

Templates for turning down a job interview

Though you can personalize the message with unique details, here are some basic email templates for declining a job interview:

Template 1: Withdrawing application

Here's a template you can use if you want to withdraw your application:

SUBJECT: Invitation to Interview for [position]

Dear [Company Contact],

Thank you so much for considering me for your [job title] position with [Company Name]. I regret that I am going to withdraw my application at this time. I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you for your time and consideration.

[First and Last Name]
[Phone number]

Related: How To Decline an Interview

Template 2: Recommending another candidate

Here's a template that can help you recommend another candidate while turning down an interview:

SUBJECT: Interview Invitation for [job title]

Dear [Company Contact],

Thank you for the opportunity to learn more about your organization and interview for [job title]. I appreciate your time and consideration. Unfortunately, I have to decline the opportunity at this time.

My colleague, [First and Last Name], may be a great fit for this position and can be a valuable addition to the [Company Name] team. You can reach them at [phone number] or via email at [email address].

Good luck, and I hope that we may have another chance to work together at some point in the future.


[First and Last Name]
[Phone number]


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