Lot of things can happen during the interview process, especially when it takes weeks or even months, which is the case with many Fortune 500 companies. There’s yet another phone call, online test, an interview, and you wait and wait and nothing happens. When will they finally make their offer? And, will there eventually be any offer?

Job search is a game of numbers, and you can’t wait ages for a decision from as single company. Hence you applied with someone else, and got a great offer, and now you want to withdraw from an interview process with the first company.

Or you decided to try your luck in the world of business, because you are tired of waiting for the miracle. Again, you want to withdraw from the interview processes you’re currently involved in.

But how to do it with tact, and in a way that won’t close you the door to that company forever? Because at the end of the day, you never know what tomorrow will bring. You may eventually need the connection in the company, or perhaps even apply for a job with them again. So how to do it the right way? We will try to find the answer in this article.


Step no. 1: Weigh all pros and cons before eventually withdrawing

We may easily do an irrational decision, especially if our emotions take over. I know how you feel: Maybe they promised to call you in a day, and three days passed and there’s no phone call. Or they are dragging you in a circle of phone calls and interviews, and can’t make up their mind. Perhaps they even said you something ugly, and you can’t stand the hiring manager.

Nevertheless, you should think about your decision for a few minutes, and with a cool head. Do not make something you’d regret later. If you already invested all the effort and energy into the process, can’t you wait a bit longer?

And even if you got a great offer from some other company while waiting, wouldn’t it be better to stay also in this interview process, and wait for their offer? Each interview is a learning experience, especially an interview in a big company. You may consider still going there, and refusing their offer at the end, just to have the experience…

* May also interest you: How to decline an interview.


Step no. 2: Give them your decision in writing, if it’s 48 hours or more before your next planned interview

There’s nothing wrong with announcing unpopular decisions by email. All companies and managers do that. But you should also realize that they have their schedule and deadlines, and may count with you for a given day.

Hence I would suggest you to write an email only if there’s 48 hours before the start of your planned interview. That’s a long enough time for them to find a replacement, or to make some arrangements. It’s just not professional to send an email 8 hours before the start of your planned interview. First of all, some managers check emails just twice a day, so they may not even see it. And secondly, it’s hard to find a last minute replacement.

Step no. 3: Make a phone call if you decide to withdraw on the last minute notice

If you decide to withdraw from the interview process less than 48 hours before the start of the planned interview, you should call the hiring manager. It’s too late for an email. What’s more, on a call you still give them a chance to somehow convince you, or at least to give you some feedback on your performance up to this point. You can certainly benefit from that in the future.

* May also interest you: How to tell the employer that you have another offer.


Step no. 4: Give them a clear reason why you want to withdraw

Whether you call or send an email, you should be clear about your reasons. Now, it doesn’t mean that you have to tell them the truth. Maybe you started to hate the company or consider the hiring manager incompetent. As you can imagine, it would do you no good to share this opinion with them…

But you should give them a clear reason, and it can certainly be one of the following things:

  • You got another offer, and you decided to accept it. In this case they may try to counter with their own offer, or ask you for more details about the offer you got from another employer. You may reply that it is confidential, or you may try your luck and tell them the number, seeing what they will do.
  • Something changed in your present job, and you decided to stay with the employer. Again, you do not have to state clearly what changed, just ensure them that your decision is firm and you want to withdraw from their interview process.
  • Your priorities changed, for example due to some events in your personal life (or some profound transformation :)). You were interested in their offer originally, but with the new perspective, with the new situation in your life, you completely lost your interest.


Step no. 5: Thank them and wish them good luck, even if they do not deserve it

You should end your email (or phone call) on a high note. Your initial information, your withdrawal, is certainly a bad news for the company, unless they planned to reject you anyway. So try to end your message on a high note, so they feel better about themselves, and the last association they have with you isn’t a negative one.

For example, you can thank them for an excellent interview, or even praise a certain part of the process (behavioral questions, personality test, presentation of the company they gave you, anything). Again, you do not have to be entirely honest, but your words should make sense… For example if they gave you a dry, one minute presentation of the company, it would make little sense to praise this presentation in your message.


Step no 6: Try to keep the doors open, because you never know what will happen

You can close your message with saying that you will definitely consider employment in their company, in the future, in different circumstances. You can say that you hope that they will archive the results of your interview, and if you resume the interview process one day, certain parts can be skipped.

Remember that you never know what the future will bring. Surely, you might get an excellent offer from someone else. But what if the job isn’t as advertised, or they decide to terminate your contract after two months, or they won’t pay you? You will be neither the first nor the last person with this negative experience.

In such a case it is great to have a plan B, and perhaps it can be reentering the interview process with this company.


Conclusion, next steps

Seeing a job candidate withdraw in the middle of an interview process isn’t something that happens often, but companies and managers have to count with the possibility. You shouldn’t be ashamed of withdrawing, especially if you have your reasons.

Try to keep the doors open, however, and make the best possible last impression on your contact in the company. Send them a meaningful message or call them, and clearly explain your reasons. Apologize for the inconveniences, thank them for their time, and praise something about the interview process.

You never know what the future will bring. It is better to build bridges, not fences. I wish you good luck!


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Matthew Chulaw
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