Why and How to Decline Job Interview

Posted by Pat Delorean

decline job interview

With the lean job market we have today, it may seem counterintuitive to decline a job interview, any job interview. Recent college grads may be extra eager to accept an interview in the hopes of landing a job.

In fact, on the whole, it’s better to accept most interviews than to decline them. Even if you don’t get the job, you acquire experience fielding interview questions and make new contacts. However, there are some instances when it’s better for you to decline an interview.

Reasons to decline an interview

  • The company has a bad rap- If the company is rumored to be going under, or was cited in a scandal recently or you happen to know someone who had a bad experience working for them, then you can skip the interview. You want to spend your energy on interviewing for companies that offer you a promising future, not a place undergoing an upheaval or who are famous for practicing bad policies. Even if you got the job, it wouldn’t do much for your resume to have worked for a company that’s been blacklisted. In fact, it could even damage your reputation to be associated with them. Steer clear of this kind of drama. It’s important to establish yourself with a reputable company especially when you’re fresh out of the gates.

  • The job is for a position you have no interest in- Sometimes recruiters get it wrong and offer an interview to someone who has no experience nor expressed interest in the position they’re hiring for. Just because someone offered you an interview, doesn’t mean you’re obligated to accept. If the position is in IT and you studied art history, there’s really no reason for you to sit through an interview you know isn’t for you. It would be a waste of both your and the interviewer’s time. In this case, it’s best to politely decline.

  • The job isn’t a job, it’s an internship- If you’re looking for an internship, great. But if you’re looking for a paid position and what’s being offered is an unpaid or low paying internship with no guarantee of an entry position afterwards, it’s best to decline. If your reasons for wanting a paid position are because you need to start earning money and paying bills ASAP, then there’s no point in interviewing for a position you know won’t be able to help you meet your financial needs.

  • You already said yes to someone else- If you already accepted a job, then it’s better not to continue accepting interviews. If your current employer knows you’re interviewing at other companies, it could jeopardize your current position.

How to say no to a job interview

Even if you don’t want a job, that doesn’t mean that you might not want it someday. Never burn a bridge because you never know when you might need that contact in the future.

In order to leave the air clear between you and the employer offering the interview, consider the following tips:

  • Be polite. Send a message saying something like, “Thank you for the offer to interview for a position at your company. Unfortunately at this time, I’m unable to accept because I’ve already accepted another position/I’m pursuing a career in another field/ I’m seeking an entry level position and am unable to accept an internship.”

  • Leave things open. Let them know that you might be interested in working with them in the future. “Though I’m not available to accept a position with you now, I would like to be able to contact you in the future if my situation changes.”

  • If they don’t reply within two weeks, make sure to send a follow-up message to confirm that they received it. They will appreciate the extra step you took to make sure your communication was received.

Whether or not you accept an interview is up to you, however, it’s best to bear in mind these instances when it might be time poorly spent. The best way to say no is to be polite and to leave things open for any future changes. Good luck and happy job hunting.