Career Advice

Declining a Job Interview — Why, When & How

min read
Vera Chan

The best way to find out if you want to work for an organisation or employer at a future job is to attend an interview. But sometimes there are reasons to reject a job interview invitation. If you need to do so, how can you go about it gracefully? And why would you want to reject?

Why You Should Decline

There are many reasons to decline a job interview invitation. We have compiled a list of reasons to consider before you decline.

1. Risk

You have done your research and may have discovered recent redundancies. There could have been a series of layoffs or the company seems financially unstable. If you are not sure where or when your next paycheck will come from, that is a red flag.

2. Opportunity

If the role for this job interview is not particularly exciting, do you want to take the time out to attend? Do you have enough annual leave or time off to go? And if not, should you take more time off to find out what more the job interview will be about?

3. Time

You may have already been through a round of interviews and realised that this role is not for you. In this case, you want to clear up your own schedule, as well as the interviewer's. The hiring manager will be able to push up other candidates' interviews or schedule new ones.

4. Experience

You may not have yet attended an interview but heard negative things. These could be stories about bad managers or co-workers. Or you felt uneasy during your first round of interviews making you not want to join the company.

When You Should Decline

Is there a prime time to respond? Not exactly, but there is a sweet spot. You want to save the hiring manager time, not waste it. By turning down a job interview that you are not keen on, you open up the opportunity for other candidates. This is not to say that you should turn down a job interview due to nervousness. If you feel there is an opportunity that you would like to explore, then consider whether you will accept it or not.

1. Respond

You may be contacted quite frequently with job opportunities and even job interviews. If that is the case, it can be tempting to ignore an interview invitation. Be professional and politely turn down the opportunity. This will maintain your integrity and relationship with the employer or contact. Your paths may cross again in the future and the network could pay off.

2. Wait 1 Day

Give the interview invitation some thought. Try not to decline straight away, unless you are sure that this opportunity is not right for you. Do some research between receiving the invitation and responding before making your decision.

How You Should Decline a Job Interview

Email the recruiter or employer within 12-24 hours. You want to save time, but show that you have also thought the opportunity through. If you have their contact number, you can also call them first to let them know. Then follow-up with an email.

Subject Line

Write your name in the subject line and why you are emailing. the topic will signal to the recipient what the email is about. They will be more likely to open it in a timely manner if they understand the relevance of the content.


Use "Dear Hiring Manager" or "To Whom It May Concern" to properly address the recipient. If you know their name, be sure to use that first over the generic introductory greetings.

Body Text

Start by expressing your thanks and move on to mentioning the job interview. Repeat the interview date and time and mention that you can no longer attend.


If you are no longer interested in the role, you do not have to give a reason. You do not want to be seen as a time-waster if you changed your mind and decided that you are no longer interested. But if you accepted another job offer or have another legitimate reason, you can mention it here.


You want to leave a clear but polite message that you will be withdrawing your application. But again talk about your thankfulness for their time.

Top tip

Double-check the email address is correct and keep it brief. Then cordially sign-off.

Final Note

Life can happen and it is possible that you might meet the hiring manager or interviewer again. This could be in a professional capacity where they might end up as a co-worker or future employer. Do not burn your bridges and remain professional throughout the whole process.

If you are not declining a job interview but accepting one, read "4 Ways to Respond to an Interview Request (Plus Tips)."

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