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How to Decline an Interview Offer (With Email Templates)

By Remy Meraz March 31, 2024

How to Decline an Interview Offer (With Email Templates)

Introduction: Navigating Interview Offers With Grace

In the fast-paced world of job searching, receiving an interview offer can feel like a win in itself. It's a sign that your efforts—from tailoring your resume to crafting the perfect cover letter—have paid off, catching the eye of hiring managers and positioning you as a strong candidate. But what happens when you need to decline an interview? Whether you've accepted another job offer, your career goals have shifted, or the company doesn't seem like the right fit, knowing how to decline an interview gracefully is just as crucial as acing one.

Declining an interview doesn't have to be a daunting task filled with anxiety over burning bridges or leaving a bad taste. Instead, it can be an opportunity to maintain a positive relationship with the company, the hiring manager, and perhaps open the door for future opportunities. This introduction will guide you through the process of declining an interview with grace and professionalism, ensuring you leave a positive impression while keeping future doors open.

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Why Declining an Interview Properly Matters

Why does it matter how you reject an interview?

The way you decline an interview is a critical component of your job search process. It's not just about saying no; it's about how you convey that decision. Taking the time for careful consideration and crafting a response that leaves a positive impression are key. This approach shows respect for the interviewer's time and the opportunity they've extended to you. It's about preserving a professional relationship that could be beneficial in the future. Remember, the hiring world is surprisingly small, and a respectful decline helps prevent burning bridges. Whether it's a job interview invitation for your dream job, a new role that doesn't quite fit, or simply an interview request at an inopportune time, responding with grace and professionalism can keep the door open for future opportunities with the company or even within your broader professional network.

How to Decline an Interview Offer (With Email Templates)

Preparing to Decline an Interview

Be aware of your motivations for withdrawing from consideration

Before deciding to decline an interview, it's crucial to understand why you're considering this step. Is it because you've accepted another job offer that aligns more closely with your career goals? Or perhaps the job description doesn't resonate with your skill set or career aspirations? Reflecting on your motivations ensures that you're making a decision based on careful consideration, not just a fleeting feeling of doubt or a superficial reason.

If you're still feeling unsure after some self-reflection, consider confiding in a trusted friend

Sometimes, talking through your decision with someone you trust can provide clarity. A friend may offer a fresh perspective on the opportunity you're about to decline or reassure you that your reasons are valid. This conversation can be a crucial step in reinforcing your decision or, conversely, might lead you to reconsider if you're declining for the right reasons.

Be mindful of softening the rejection

When you've decided to decline an interview, the way you convey this decision matters. It's important to communicate respectfully and with a tone that acknowledges the opportunity gratefully. Expressing gratitude for the interview offer and explaining your decision without getting too personal or detailed helps soften the rejection. This approach not only maintains a positive relationship with the hiring manager and the company but also leaves a door open for future opportunities that might be a better fit.

How to Decline a Job Interview Without Burning Bridges

How to respectfully decline an interview

Declining a job interview requires a careful balance of honesty and diplomacy. Start your communication by expressing your appreciation for the offer and the hiring manager's consideration. Clearly state that you are declining the interview, but avoid going into too much personal detail. A simple explanation that you are pursuing other opportunities that align more closely with your career goals or current life situation is sufficient.

Offer gratitude and add value where possible

Expressing gratitude is key. Thank the hiring manager for the opportunity and their time. If you can, add value to your decline. For instance, if you know someone who would be a perfect fit for the position, you might suggest them. This not only shows your respect for the company's time but also that you're thoughtful and helpful, reinforcing a positive relationship.

Respond promptly with professionalism

Timing is crucial when declining an interview. Respond as soon as you've made your decision, allowing the company to move forward with other candidates. Use professional language in your communication, addressing the hiring manager by their title and last name unless instructed otherwise. Ending your message with well wishes for the company's search or a statement expressing hope to cross paths in the future keeps the door open for potential opportunities and maintains a positive impression.

How to Decline an Interview Offer (With Email Templates)

Tailoring Your Approach

You accepted another job offer

When you've accepted another job offer, it's respectful to inform the hiring manager promptly. Express gratitude for the interview offer and briefly mention that you've accepted a position that aligns more closely with your career goals or current life situation. This keeps your response positive and professional.

Your life plans or career goals have changed

If your career goals or life plans have shifted, making the job less appealing or feasible, share this in a way that is honest yet considerate. Acknowledge the opportunity, but explain that your focus has changed, leading you to pursue opportunities that better align with your new direction.

The company is showing too many red flags

Declining an interview because of red flags requires tact. Without being specific about the issues, thank the company for the invitation and state that after careful consideration, you've decided to explore opportunities that seem to be a better fit for your current needs.

You are unsure that you want the job

Uncertainty about wanting the job is a valid reason to decline an interview. Communicate this by expressing appreciation for the offer and stating that you're currently reconsidering your job search priorities, which has led you to decline the interview at this time.

You know someone who worked at the company and had a bad experience

This is delicate information and doesn't need to be shared with the employer. Politely decline the interview by focusing on your reasons without bringing up third-party experiences. Mention that you're looking for a role that aligns more closely with your values and career aspirations.

You don't want the role

Simply not wanting the role is fine. Thank the employer for the consideration and state that after reflecting on the job description and your career goals, you've realized the position isn't the right fit for you at this time.

You can't (or won't) put in the time

If the job requires more time commitment than you can offer, it's best to be upfront about it. Thank them for the consideration and mention that you're unable to commit to the role's requirements fully at this moment.

Your situation changed

Life can be unpredictable. If your situation has changed (for example, due to family commitments or relocation), explain that unforeseen circumstances have led you to reconsider your current job search, and as a result, you need to decline the interview.

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Effective Communication Strategies

Turn it down with a sense of urgency

When declining an interview, it's important to do so promptly to allow the hiring team to redirect their efforts toward other candidates. However, this urgency should not come at the expense of thoughtfulness. Convey your decision with respect and clarity, ensuring the message is received in a timely manner but also reflects your professionalism.

Respond quickly, but not too quickly

While responding quickly is crucial, taking a moment to compose a thoughtful and respectful response is equally important. This balance demonstrates your professionalism and consideration for the interviewer's time. Aim to respond within 24-48 hours of receiving the interview invitation, giving yourself enough time to craft a well-considered message.

Keep it light on details

You don't need to provide an exhaustive explanation for why you're declining the interview. A brief and vague yet polite explanation preserves your privacy while still being respectful to the hiring manager. This approach avoids any potential awkwardness and keeps the conversation professional.

Be courteous and show gratitude

Always start and end your communication on a positive note. Express your gratitude for the interview offer and the opportunity to learn more about the company. A courteous response, even in declination, leaves a lasting positive impression and maintains a good relationship with the hiring manager.

Recommend someone else

If you know someone who could be a good fit for the position, offering a recommendation can be a great way to add value even as you decline the opportunity. This gesture shows that you're thoughtful and invested in the company's success, despite not pursuing the opportunity yourself. However, ensure that the person you're recommending is truly interested and a good fit for the role to avoid any potential complications.

How to Decline an Interview Offer (With Email Templates)

Email Templates and Examples

Decline an interview email template with Flowrite

Subject: Appreciation for the Interview Offer at [Company Name]

Dear [Hiring Manager's Name],

I hope this message finds you well. I wanted to express my sincere gratitude for considering me for the [Position Title] role and for the invitation to interview with [Company Name]. After careful consideration, I have decided to decline the interview opportunity at this time due to [a brief reason, e.g., having accepted another offer that aligns with my current career objectives].

I am truly honored to have been considered for the role and am impressed by the work that [Company Name] does. I hope we can stay in touch and possibly explore opportunities to work together in the future.

Thank you again for your understanding and best regards,

[Your Name]

How to turn down an interview with a recruiter

Subject: Interview Opportunity for [Position Title]

Dear [Recruiter's Name],

Thank you very much for reaching out with the opportunity to interview for the [Position Title] at [Company Name]. It is with respect that I must decline the interview at this time, as I have recently committed to a role that closely matches my career goals.

I appreciate your consideration and hope that we can connect again in the future should my situation change.

Warm regards,

[Your Name]

How to decline an interview email last-minute sample email

Subject: Re: Interview Invitation for [Position Title]

Dear [Hiring Manager's Name],

I regret to inform you that due to unforeseen circumstances, I must cancel our scheduled interview for the [Position Title] position. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding.

Thank you for considering me for the role, and I hope we might cross paths under different circumstances in the future.


[Your Name]

How to politely decline an interview sample email

Subject: Re: Interview Offer for [Position Title] at [Company Name]

Dear [Hiring Manager's Name],

Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview for the [Position Title] role at [Company Name]. After much thought, I have decided to decline the interview at this time as I am pursuing other opportunities that align more closely with my current career path.

I deeply appreciate your consideration and hope that we can remain in contact. Thank you again for this opportunity.


[Your Name]

How to decline an interview after accepting another offer sample email

Subject: Interview Invitation Response for [Position Title]

Dear [Hiring Manager's Name],

I am writing to express my gratitude for the invitation to interview for the [Position Title] at [Company Name]. However, I must inform you that I have recently accepted another offer that is in line with my career aspirations and, therefore, must respectfully decline your generous offer.

Thank you for your understanding and for considering me for the role. I wish [Company Name] continued success and hope our paths may cross in the future.

Best wishes,

[Your Name]

Declining an interview template

Subject: [Your Name] - [Position Title] Interview

Dear [Hiring Manager's Name],

Thank you for offering me the chance to interview for the [Position Title] position. After thorough consideration, I have decided to decline the opportunity to focus on roles that more directly align with my professional goals.

I appreciate your interest and the time you've taken to consider my application. I hope we might have the chance to connect in the future.

Kind regards,

[Your Name]

These templates are designed to convey your message respectfully and professionally, ensuring that you leave a positive impression and keep the door open for future opportunities.

How to Decline an Interview Offer (With Email Templates)

Conclusion: Leaving the Door Open for Future Opportunities

Declining an interview offer, when done with grace and professionalism, doesn't signify an end but rather an open door for future possibilities. By ensuring that your communication is respectful, appreciative, and considerate, you foster a positive relationship that could pave the way for opportunities down the road. Remember, the world is smaller than we think, especially within professional circles. Today’s declined opportunity could lead to a more fitting role tomorrow, with the same company or through connections made during the process. Keeping the door open, maintaining hope for the future, and staying connected are essential practices in a dynamic job market. As you navigate these decisions, let your professionalism and courtesy be the bridge to your future successes.

Read more about: Job Search, Employee Experience, Professional Development

About Remy Meraz

Remy Meraz, co-founder, and CEO of Zella Life, is a visionary leader who leveraged corporate glass ceiling challenges as a woman of color to drive systemic change.

While leading and cultivating high-performance teams from VC-backed startups to Fortune 500, she consistently faced obstacles such as inadequate mentorship, lack of psychological safety, and non-personalized training. Taking matters into her own hands, she turned to executive coaching and NLP training. This life-changing growth experience led to breaking leadership barriers and a passion for cognitive psychology.

Motivated by her experiences, she co-founded Zella Life, an innovative AI-driven coaching platform bridging the talent development gap by enhancing soft skills and emotional intelligence (EQ) in the workplace.

Her vision with Zella Life is to transform professional development into an inclusive and impactful journey, focused on the distinct needs of both individuals and organizations. She aims to promote advancement and culture change by ensuring every professional's growth is acknowledged and supported.

Today, Remy is recognized as an influential innovator, trainer, mentor, and business leader. Under her leadership, Zella Life has delivered significant measurable outcomes for numerous well-known brands. This track record of positive outcomes garnered attention and funding from Google for Startups and Pledge LA, establishing Zella Life as a pivotal force in the learning and development arena tackling and resolving fundamental talent development issues for organizations of all sizes.