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Oct 8, 2022

Writing

How to decline an interview with 4 email samples and template

Check these 4 example emails to learn how to professionally decline an interview

Blog writer

Saku Kähkönen

Marketing

Blog writer

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How to decline an interview

You’ve got an interview offer! It’s one of the best feelings in the world, isn’t it?

After your job search, getting an interview can make you feel like you’re on Cloud 9… but what if you’re feeling more like Cloud 4 or 5? 

There are many reasons to decline a job interview, like accepting another job offer, a change in schedule, feeling overqualified, or concerns about the salary or schedule.

Whatever the case may be, you’ve reached a point where you have to turn down an interview. Now what? How can you professionally decline an interview?

The next step is to learn how to politely decline an interview without burning your bridges. In fact, declining an interview the right way can leave the door open for future opportunities.

Should you email to decline an interview?

Email is fast and efficient, but it can also be impersonal and feel dismissive. However, you likely have no reason to feel bad about choosing to decline an interview via email. Most job candidates only coordinate with recruiters and hiring managers via email, anyway.

If you do have personal contact information with the recruiter, or you’ve already connected via telephone, then you could choose to reach out that way instead. However, there is nothing wrong with a decline interview email. 

Declining an interview via email is fine as long as you follow professional protocol and etiquette. Let’s dive into the details.

How to decline an interview via email

There are three points to consider when you decline an interview by email:

1. Timing

2. Tone

3. Detail 

You want to be reasonable with your response. Avoid waiting until the day of the interview, or even right before you’re supposed to meet, to decline. Show respect for your interviewer’s time by sending your email several days in advance whenever possible.

The tone is all about being polite, courteous, and expressing gratitude for the opportunity. Although you may not be moving forward with the job interview, you should still show appreciation for the company’s time and consideration.

Lastly, detail matters, and in this case, less is best. You do not need to justify your reasons for declining. Instead, keep your email brief, and focus more on your intention than your rationale.

Avoid a negative tone, don’t compare offers, and don’t mention getting a better offer from someone else. You never know what will happen in the future. Thus it’s never wise to burn bridges behind you.

You can even use the closing portion of your email to refer another candidate for the job if you know someone who would be a good fit.

☝️
Tip: Make sure that your email as soon as you are sure you do not want to proceed with the interview. The hiring process requires narrowing a talent pool of interested candidates, which means someone else who wants the opportunity is likely already available. Avoid letting the company miss out on the chance to hire a great fit for their role by declining early.

Best practices when writing a decline interview email 

These are the top tips you should follow when learning how to decline an interview by email. 

1. Decline interview email format

Declining an interview by email should take no more than 10 sentences max. This is a notification, not a justification, so your goal should be to state your intention for writing, explain your position, and show gratitude for the opportunity.

Writing too much is unnecessary, and writing too little can be impolite or dismissive. 

You want to strike the perfect balance, which our interview decline email templates can help with.

2. Remember to say “thank you” 

Respect is key when you want to decline an interview without burning bridges.

Even if you knew from the start that a job wasn’t for you, you should still thank someone for the opportunity to interview. Showing your appreciation is a sign of professionalism that people will remember.

3. Sleep on It, but respond early

You want to demonstrate consideration for an interview, even if you always intended to turn it down. Waiting a day or two before declining is standard protocol, so long as you don’t wait until a day or even a few hours before your scheduled interview. 

If you take too long to respond, it comes across as unthoughtful toward the company and the interviewer’s time. They likely have other candidates available, and it’s best to provide a wider timeframe for them to reach out and arrange an interview with someone else. 

4. Recommend someone else (if you can)

It isn’t necessary, but you can use your decline interview email to recommend another candidate for the position.

This is a polite gesture toward the employer, which also helps someone else you know to take advantage of a great opportunity. 

Before you provide a colleague’s name, make sure you ask them if they are okay with this. You should not give anyone their contact information without their permission.

How to decline an interview examples and template

Now that we know how to respectfully decline an interview, let’s take a look at some examples for declining an interview by email in different situations. 

There are many reasons why you may need to decline. What matters is that you know how to approach the situation with tact and respect for the company’s time. 

4 Decline email interview samples

Below are four interview decline email samples you can use for your needs. Once you are 100% certain that you do not want to proceed with an interview, these email templates can help you decline an interview without burning bridges. 

Please customize each template to suit your circumstances. You may, for example, decide to include additional details about your reasons for declining if you feel they are necessary. 

However, we suggest using these decline interview email samples as a standard form. It is best to be vaguer and solely state your intention for declining the interview rather than delving into personal details about your reasoning. 

1. How to decline an interview email last-minute sample email

Although we hope it never comes down to it, you might have to send a last-minute interview decline notice. Here’s how we would approach it:

[Your Name] – [Job Title] Interview Cancellation
Hello [Name],    

Unfortunately, I must cancel our interview for [date and time]. I sincerely apologize for sending this notice so close to our scheduled appointment, but I am no longer available for this position.    

I greatly appreciate your time and consideration, and I hope to stay connected.    

Good luck with finding the right candidate.    

Best,    
[Your Name]

2. How to decline an interview after accepting another offer sample email

You might have to decline an interview because you have accepted another offer. In this case, it’s best to keep it respectful.

Don’t boast about accepting a better offer (even though you might feel that way), and emphasize being thankful. Here’s how:

[Job Title] Interview With [Your Name]
Hello [Name],    

Thank you for reaching out about interviewing for [job title/position] with [company name]. I’m grateful that you have taken an interest in my resume and consider me a candidate for this role.     

I have, however, recently accepted an offer from another organization.     

I wish you and the team at [Company Name] the best of luck in hiring the right person for this role. I hope we can stay connected. If anything changes in the future, I would love to connect when the timing suits us both.    

All the best,    
[Your Name]

3. How to politely decline an interview sample email

[Your Name] – Interview for [Job Title]
Dear [Name],    

Thank you for your consideration and the opportunity to interview for [job title/position] at [Company Name]. Regretfully, I have to withdraw my application at this time.    

I appreciate your consideration, and I wish you and your organization the best of luck in the future.    

In fact, I would like to suggest a candidate that I think would be an excellent match for your role. [Name] is a [job title] who is actively looking for new opportunities. You can review their experience and connect with them via LinkedIn [insert a link to their profile here].     

Once again, I want to thank you for your time and consideration.    

Sincerely,    
[Your Name]
☝️
Alternatives: You can ask the company if they are open to referrals before providing any contact information for another candidate. This also gives your colleague time to hear about the offer and decide whether they are interested and want to connect with the recruiter/company.

Another option is to mention you know someone who could be a good fit for the role. Tell the company you will pass their information along, so your colleague can reach out to them if they are interested.  

4. How to decline a second interview sample email

[Your Name] Second Interview for [Job Title]    
  
  
Hello [Name],    

I had a wonderful time meeting you [or another party’s name] during our interview on [date].    

However, after careful consideration, I have decided to withdraw my application for [job title/position] with [Company Name] at this time, and I must respectfully decline our second interview on [date].     

I enjoyed meeting you [or the appropriate party], and I wish the entire team at [Company Name] the best of success in the future.    

Thank you for your time, consideration, and understanding.     

Sincerely,    
[Your Name]

Decline an interview email template with Flowrite

It can be a daunting task to decline an interview – you need a polite tone, professional format, and proper grammar – but you can do it simply with Flowrite, like this:

Flowrite is your personal email assistant, that can write emails for you. Give it a few instructions, and Flowrite turns words into ready-to-send emails.

Final words

Declining an interview promptly with a polite email is the best way to maintain positive relationships and a strong professional network. Although you may feel as though you need to apologize profusely or offer explanations, a simple email that states your current stance is more than enough.

Most interviewers will accept your decline without any issue, and they will appreciate your speed and thoughtfulness. The most important thing for you to do is email ahead of time so they can continue their hiring process and schedule interviews with other candidates.

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