Last updated on January 10th, 2020 at 11:18 am

A woman is calling en employer, and at the same time reading an email from them. She is about to decline her interview. We can see a small aquarium and an empty porcelain cup on the table. What you will find in this article: Introduction, 4 things you should know while declining an interview, sample declining letter, conclusion.



Lack of interview invitations? Or dozens of them? Welcome to the world of online job boards!

Submitting your job application to twenty different employers would take days, if not weeks, fifteen years ago.

These days, however, it is perfectly doable in one hour. Click, click, click–and you have submitted another job application. Job search is a game of numbers–that’s the mantra of a typical job seeker in 21st century.

But what to do if you can not attend an interview, or if you changed your mind, or if you basically do not even remember that you applied for a given position?

Learn how to not destroy the bridges, and leave the doors open, should you change your mind later on, seeking employment in the company.

Few things you should know

  • You should never decline your interview less than 24 hours before the scheduled meeting. 24 hours is enough time for the employer to make arrangements, and to possibly invite another candidate who will replace you in the schedule of the day. If you have no other options, however, and need to cancel one day before (for example becasue you are sick, or met a love of your life and decided to leave everything behind and go for a journey around the world), call them. Do not send a letter.
  • Two HR managers are surprised to hear that the job candidate has declined their offerGive a good reason for your decision. It doesn’t matter if you tell the truth, or if you make something up. You can say that you have received another job offer, or that you simply can not come from family reasons. But if you do not want to go, do not say that you want to, but cannot come. They can always offer you a different time for an interview, and it would be an occurred situation to have to decline the second one as well.
  • Alternatively you can pick something from the job description (for example business travels, night shifts, a skills which you do not have) and say that you can not accept such working conditions, apologizing that you did not notice it on the job description earlier, while you were submitting your application.
  • Do it with a call, if you can. Some recruiters and HR managers receive dozens of emails every day. Declining an interview by a call (or with a short text message, if you do not feel like calling them, or do not have guts do to it) is more professional, and you can be sure they got the message. Everyone reads their short text messages almost instantly, but some people check their email just once a day, trying to concentrate on other working duties.


What to say or write – a sample letter

Dear XYZ,
I have to decline my job interview for the position [name of the position], originally scheduled for [date and time of the scheduled interview], because [your reason for declining].

I really appreciate that you invited me for an interview, and I am sorry for the inconvenience I caused.

I hope you will choose a great candidate for this job, and I wish you good luck in everything you do.

Best Regards

Your Name

Your Phone Number


Getting ready for another interview? Get help from – Your best job interview coach since 2011

  • 15 most common interview questions – What motivates you? What are your weaknesses? Why did you leave your last job? Why should we hire you? Learn how to answer the most common questions, and make a good impression on your interviewers.
  • Body language in an interview – What do your gestures and movements say about you? Can we control our non-verbal communication?
  • Job interview etiquette – Regardless of your approach to the interviews, and your strategy in the meetings with the employers, certain borders should not be crossed. Stay professional, regardless of the atmosphere and the outcome of the meeting.
  • Follow-up letter after the interview – Advice on how to write a good letter (or email), with sample letters attached. Understand the most important sections on your letter, and make a final push towards a coveted job contract.

Matthew Chulaw

Matthew has been working in international recruitment since 2008. He helps job seekers from all walks of life to pursue their career goals, and to prepare for their interviews. He is the founder of website.
Matthew Chulaw

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