How to Decline an Interview Without Looking Like a Jerk

Derek Doeing Derek Doeing  |  February 25, 2019

Turning yourself into a jerk in any situation is, generally speaking, a bad thing.

Don’t just take my word for it though, think back to a few jerks you’ve probably experienced in the world around you. There’s the person in line for coffee who’s taking just a little too long to order, that driver who sped around your car just to get stopped at the same red light, and don’t even get me started on the YouTube comment section.

Jerks are everywhere, but you don’t have to be one of them.

If you’re here, it’s because you want to respond to an interview request with a less than positive response, but don’t want to burn any bridges in the process. This article will detail for you how to cancel an interview - and make sure you don’t come out the other end looking like the type of person who throws their cans in the garbage when there’s a perfectly good recycling bin nearby.

How to decline an interview

For whatever reason you have to cancel an interview, the most important thing is that you turn down the interview respectfully, truthfully, and in a polite manner. Don’t feel like you have to give up all the information you have or provide an excuse. A simple and concise response is typically enough to let the person on the other end know the situation changed and you are no longer interested.

The absolute worst thing you can do is ignore or “ghost” the recruiter or interviewer by not responding to their invitation. In general, ignoring things is not a good way to solve problems. It’s safe to assume going about declining an interview the wrong way could have negative consequences and possibly even follow you around as you move through your career.

Craft a simple “No, thank you,” message and then either pick up the phone or send an email and move on. Use the template below in order to avoid the stress and continue on with your life.

Template to decline a job interview

Why turn down an interview?

Accepting a position elsewhere, deciding the company wasn’t going to be a good fit for you, or wanting to stay in your current role are all common and acceptable reasons to decline an interview.

You may feel compelled to provide some sort of excuse or reasoning for turning down an interview. The reality is that you really don’t need to. There are a number of reasons you could decline an interview, but only share what you feel comfortable with. Tell the truth, but also keep it a little vague. Most interviewers will be fine with a simple explanation and appreciate that you’ve informed them.

Related: If you went through the interview process and then decided you aren't interested in a new position anymore, learn how to decline a job offer politely and professionally. 

Don’t be a jerk

For whatever reason you’re driven to turn down a job interview, you can do so without making yourself out to be the jerk in the situation. The important thing is to stay calm, handle the situation with poise, and move on.


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Derek Doeing

Derek is a former G2 staff writer who specialized in HR and recruitment trends and insights. He is a graduate of Iowa State University, a proud son of Chicago, and can usually be found discussing pop music, politics, or digital marketing on the internet. (he/him/his)

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