How to Decline a Job Interview With a Letter Sample

Image by Theresa Chiechi © The Balance 2019 

What's the best way to turn down a job interview? Sometimes after applying for a job, you may find that the position no longer seems like a good match. It's not worth your time, or the employer's, to interview for a job you don't really want unless there's a chance of a role that's a better fit becoming available.

If you are contacted about arranging an interview for a job that you are no longer interested in, you will need to decline the job interview politely. Many times, the simplest way to do this is via email.

Reasons to Decline a Job Interview

There are many reasons you may have decided, after submitting your application and resume, that you no longer want this particular job. Take, for example, the following:

  • You may have done more research into the position or the company and discovered that your goals aren't compatible with the company's mission or culture.
  • You may have been anticipating a relocation and then had a change in plans.
  • The position you applied for might have been less than you are qualified for, and in the time since you first applied, you have been offered a more appropriate job.
  • You may have already received a job offer and accepted the position.
  • Your schedule may have changed, making you unavailable for the work schedule the job requires.

There is no need to give a reason for turning down the interview. It's best to keep your letter simple and concise, because you may be interested in applying to the company again in the future.

Tips for Sending a Letter Declining a Job Interview Invitation

Be Sure: Once you've declined the job interview, you can't go back. You might be able to apply for future positions or even the same job later on, if circumstances change – that is, after all, one of the main reasons to send a formal, polite letter declining the invitation. You won't be able to say yes to this opportunity for an interview after you've said no. Try to do so and you'll risk coming off as unreliable, flaky, indecisive, or worse.

Respond Quickly: While you need to be sure about your decision not to go forward with the interview, you should also respond to an employer’s invitation to meet as quickly as possible. It is especially true if you've already made solid plans for a formal interview. Here's how to cancel the interview, if you've already scheduled a meeting. Be respectful of the hiring manager's time and priorities.

If you're not going to go forward with the interview process, it's important to step aside as soon as possible so that an interested candidate can take your place.

Be Courteous: Remember that you want to leave the door open for future opportunities (or, at the very least, make sure that you don't slam it shut). Most industries are tiny worlds, and hiring managers do network with human resources personnel at other companies to identify and help place qualified job candidates. Be rude in your communications with the hiring manager and you might wind up shut out of other jobs that are more in line with your goals. You certainly would nix any chance you might have had to be considered for employment with their organization in the future.

Be Vague: The purpose of the letter is to let the hiring manager know that your plans have changed so that he or she can move forward with another candidate. You don't need to provide them with specific reasons why you're no longer interested.

Sample Letter Declining an Interview Invitation

Here is an example of a letter sent via email to decline a job interview:

Subject: Interview Invitation - Your Name

Dear Name:

Thank you very much for considering me for the position of Job Title and for inviting me to interview with Company Name. However, I would like to withdraw my application for this position.

I sincerely appreciate your taking the time to review my application.

Again, thank you for your consideration.

Best regards,

Your Name

The Bottom Line

Although you might feel like you need to apologize or justify your decision not to interview, doing this will inevitably show you in a bad light because any explanation you offer will most likely be viewed as a rationale for your rejection of an employer’s interest in you.

It’s best just to let them know that your intentions have changed without explaining why. Most interviewers will let it go at that and be thankful that you kept them in the loop and allowed them the time to arrange an interview with an alternate candidate.