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How to Turn Down a Job Interview by Email

by Sara Mahuron, studioD

Turning down an interview you worked so hard to land takes a measured approach. If you decide to cancel the meeting, you likely have a good reason for it. Although it might be awkward -- proceed with confidence. Even if you would be more comfortable declining face-to-face, declining by email may be the best option if it is the employer’s preferred method of communication. Bow out with grace, because you never know where you might meet the employer again.

All Interviews Have Some Merit

Landing an interview for a job you were only marginally interested in -- and the limited interest has waned -- might not feel like it is worth your time now that the moment has arrived. But it can pay to go anyway. An interview is an opportunity, not a commitment, to accept the job. Consider the possibilities. As a plus, the interview will be practice for the interview you really wanted.

Prompt Communication

As soon as you decide you do not want to do the interview, communicate this to the employer. Be honest and prompt. There is no need to waste any more of their time. The sooner you let the interviewer know, the sooner it will be over for you. And it enables the employer to move on in the interview process. When the employer has enough time to respond, this minimizes the negative impact of your news -- and impression of you.

Mirror the Company

Respond to the company by email, only if this is the preferred form of communication. If the company has only communicated by phone and has given you instructions to call with any questions or changes, turn it down by phone. If email is appropriate, then be sure to compose a professional email that mirrors the tone and expectations for the company. For example, thank the employer for the opportunity and consideration. Tell her you have decided to remove yourself from further consideration.

Keep It Professional

The interviewer probably doesn't care why you are canceling. There is no need to open up a can of worms. Keep the conversation professional, short and sweet. Apologize for any inconvenience. Don’t divulge any negative opinion or information that has influenced your decision. Use the same professional tone you would have used to request the interview.

Rescheduling Interview

If you need to cancel or decline because of illness, consider asking to reschedule or ask to be considered for a future opening. If you look awful or are not with it, it could be worse to go than reschedule or decline the interview.

About the Author

Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.

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