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 same company. Let’s start with a few crucial points. After that we’ll have a look at a sample phone call/letter, a way how to share the news with the managers from the company.


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–someone who originally wasn’t shortlisted for the face to face (or online) meeting with the hiring managers. You may say that you do not care, but you should always imagine yourself in the shoes of that job seeker, a guy who didn’t get a chance just because someone hesitated or didn’t decline the interview at all (and simply didn’t show up)…

If you have no other options, however, and need to cancel one day before (for example because you got 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.


Give them a good reason why you decline

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 day for an interview, and it would be a strange situation to have to decline the second date as well.

Alternatively you can pick something from the job description (for example business travels, night shifts, a skills which you do not have, or even the salary offer) 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.

Two HR managers are surprised to hear that the job candidate has declined their offer


If you can, call them

A typical recruiters or a busy HR managers receives dozens of emails every day. Just like any other corporeal rat. 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 so) is more professional, and you can make sure they got the message–you will receive the notification that they got the message from you.

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. Keep in on your mind while deciding about the medium you will use to give them the news. What’s more, you should never decline an interview with a Facebook message or something of that sort. It is just beyond unprofessional..


How to decline an interview –  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 with my decision.

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

Best Regards

Your Name

Your Phone Number


Final thoughts

Always think twice (if not three times), before eventually declining an interview. Keep on your mind that every interview is a learning experience. Even if you do not find the offer attractive anymore, or perhaps do not feel prepared, and hence you are afraid of going, you should still consider it.

Maybe you will remain silent after hearing some of their questions. Maybe you will bomb it completely, and will feel embarrassed at the end. But at least you went, you learned some new questions, you can prepare for them better next time (questions tend to repeat in the interviews), and you went out of your comfort zone and did something which wasn’t easy for you to do.

Such experience can only help you grow. And you never know. Maybe you will eventually like the company so much that you will accept the offer, or arrange some other form of cooperation with them…


Ready to decline your interview, or have you changed your mind? Check also the following articles to prepare for the next one:

  • 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.
  • How to overcome interview nerves – Do not allow your anxiety to kill your chances in an interview. Learn how to overcome it and deliver your best when it matters the most.
  • 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
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