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Turning Down a Job Interview: Critical Points to Keep in Mind

written by: Sidharth Thakur•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 1/10/2011

So you’ve been offered an interview, but you’ve already decided you’re not really interested in the job. What do you do? First of all, don’t just ignore the offer – always be polite and professional.

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    Whatever be the reason when you want to decline a job interview, it must be done in a purely professional manner. Here we have some suggestions on how to politely turn down a job interview. When you have received an interview offer that you don’t plan to attend, it’s not professional to let it hang and not tell the interviewer that you will not be coming. This will not just cost them time and money, but in the long run it may mar your professional image, too. Also, you never know when you might want to explore job opportunities with that employer in the future.

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    Professionalism is Key

    Whenever turning down a job interview it must be done gracefully, politely, and professionally – whether in writing or on the phone.

    Respond in a Timely Manner

    The best practice is to let an employer know about your decision regarding the job interview at the earliest possible time, to save the employer the trouble of arranging for the interview. Do not commit for the interview until you’re sure and have made up your mind, especially when mulling over more than one interview offer. However, at the same time, don’t ever wait till the last day to turn down a job interview.

    Be Humble and Courteous

    Declining a job interview on the phone or though email are both equally acceptable methods. Professional etiquette demands that you thank the prospective employer for offering you a job interview, as the opening statement of the conversation. You can also add a line or two about something that you really appreciate about the employer’s company. However, be sure that it is sincere praise. Remember if you are turning down a job interview through email that the format, language, and style should completely adhere to business standards.

    Put Down your Reasons

    Putting down the reasons for declining the job interview is the most tricky part, and here you must think very logically and make a carefully planned decision about the reasons to be offered. You don’t really have to discuss the reasons at length; nevertheless the reason must sound genuine and legitimate. Some reasons can backfire, as the employer may be able to offer a counter solution such as another date for the interview. Also, some reasons just sound too lame, and you will never leave a favorable impression on the employer. Whenever you’re in a situation where you can’t find a substantial reason to mention, you can just let the reason take a back seat.

    The Last Bit

    To make the employer feel good you can always make some recommendations about other people you know who may be interested in the job interview. Alternatively, if you think you would want to consider working with the employer in the future, you can always mention it toward the end of the email or your telephonic conversation. This closing line must sound nice and convincing, so that the employer is left with no bitter feelings about you. And finally, close the call or end the email by apologizing for any inconvenience caused and thanking the employer once again.

    How politely you turn down a job interview speaks volumes about how professional you are, so irrespective of the reason, you must be certain to decline the job interview if you have no plans of attending it.

    Image by: Sidharth Thakur