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How to Refuse an Employment Interview

by Ruth Mayhew, studioD

If you've been on a long and marginally successful job search, you know that the ratio of interviews to resumes submitted is pretty slim. Still, you don't want to sit for just any interview, and you might decide that you're no longer interested in interviewing with certain companies, even after you expressed your interest in a job. Whether you've learned information about the company that dissuaded you or you accepted another job, do the right thing and refuse the interview -- do it politely, though.


Listen to what the recruiter or hiring manager has to say about the job and the conditions of the interview before you immediately turn down the opportunity. Refusing to listen to someone who obviously believes you're interesting enough to explore further is discourteous. If you receive a voice mail invitation to interview, don't just ignore the message, assuming the recruiter will know you're not interested by your silence. The only message doing this sends is that you don't respond in a professional manner to business matters.

Voice Mail Messages

Always respond to a phoned invitation with a verbal response. But, if the recruiter leaves a voice mail message saying that the company wants to interview you, don't just leave a return voice mail message wherein you decline the interview. Call the HR representative back and if you get voice mail, leave a brief message. In your message, indicate when it's most convenient for you to talk, and say when you will call back in hopes of directly reaching her.

Verbal Response

When you finally have an opportunity to speak with the recruiter or hiring manager, express your appreciation for the confidence in your qualifications. Make a complimentary remark about the company, and follow up with an explanation about why you're declining the interview. For example, you could say, "John, I appreciate the invitation to interview for the sales position with your company. I've heard great things about ABC Pharmaceuticals, having been in this industry for 10 years. But, I'm afraid I'll have to decline your invitation. I have decided to suspend my job search for the time being. Again, though, I appreciate your time and and ABC's interest, John."

E-mail Response

If you receive an e-mail invitation to interview, it's acceptable to respond in writing. The rationale is this: If the recruiter simply sends an e-mail to invite you to interview with the company, an e-mail response is acceptable. Still, express your appreciation for being selected to interview for the job, and follow with a brief statement to turn down the invitation. For example, you could write, "Thank you for the invitation to interview with your company; I'm pleased that you found my qualifications match what you're seeking in a sales manager. Regrettably, I must decline the invitation, as I have accepted another position." Sign your e-mail with a respectful closing, such as "Kind regards."


Even if you're not at all interested in the company or you discovered that information about the company completely turned you off, you needn't explain the specific reason why you're refusing the interview. There may come a time when you want to reapply; giving what you consider a candid and truthful refusal may only burn bridges.

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew began writing in 1985. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry" and "Human Resources Managers Appraisal Schemes." Mayhew earned senior professional human resources certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute and holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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