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

By

Jamie Birt

Updated June 1, 2022 | Published February 4, 2020

Updated June 1, 2022

Published February 4, 2020

Jamie Birt is a career coach with 5+ years of experience helping job seekers navigate the job search through one-to-one coaching, webinars and events. She’s motivated by the mission to help people find fulfillment and belonging in their careers.

There may come a time when you are given an opportunity to interview for a position or company but it just isn't a good fit. If you're uninterested in a position, you will need to politely and promptly decline the invitation.

In this article, we list reasons for turning down an interview, give steps and tips on how to do so professionally and provide a few templates to use when contacting an employer to turn down an interview.

Related: Job Interview Do's and Don'ts

Why would you 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. However, 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.

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

  • Since you applied, you have been offered a great job working for a different company.

  • You were overqualified for the position, and you have been offered another job that is better suited for you.

  • 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 have already gone through one or two rounds of interviews and you have lost interest in the job or company.

  • You know several people that are unhappily employed by the organization.

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 that would cause someone to turn down an opportunity to interview. Whatever your reason may be, just make sure it's a valid one before sending your letter of regret. This is one decision you cannot take back without losing credibility. Here are a few tips to help you decide if you want to refuse the interview:

Take time to consider

Though you should 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, perhaps you should respectfully address them in the next interview.

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 could still be an informative experience.

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 still feeling unsure after some self-reflection, consider confiding in a trusted friend

The process of voicing your concerns could be beneficial in itself, but their feedback will likely give you valuable insight as well.

Related: The Essential Job Search Guide

2. Remain courteous

Even if you're uninterested in this particular position at this time, there could be future opportunities with the company that you want to be considered for. Be sure to remain polite and professional in your communication to maintain a positive relationship.

3. Keep it vague

Your email should 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 with the organization in the future. Furthermore, it could unnecessarily extend the conversation and result in you sharing damaging details.

The one exception would be if you decided to accept a job offer with another company, in which case it is acceptable to include that as a reason for your decision.

4. Respond promptly

Though you should take the time to be sure about your decision, it's important that you let the hiring manager know as soon as possible. Be respectful of their time, as well as the opportunities of the other job candidates. Your withdrawal will result in an opportunity for someone else who is interested in the position.

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

SUBJECT: Invitation to Interview for [position]

Dear [Company Contact],

Thank you so much for considering me for your [job title] position with [Company Name]. However, I regret that I will have to withdraw my application at this time.

I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[First and Last Name]
[Email]
[Phone number]

Download Template
To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.

Template 2: Recommending another candidate

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.

However, my colleague, [First and Last Name], would be a great fit for this position and would 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 will have another chance to work together at some point in the future.

Sincerely,

[First and Last Name]

[Email]

[Phone number]

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