Turning Down a Job Interview

Turning down a job interview should be done in a cordial and polite manner. We show you how to write a courteous email to refuse an interview and provide invaluable tips on how to properly decline an interview.

Illustration of laptop with letter reading "job interview" and red cross across words

When is turning down a job interview the right thing to do?

During a job search it may seem counter-productive to reject a job interview but there are a number of reasons when declining an interview is the right choice to make.

  • you have conducted thorough background research into the company and you find that you are not comfortable with their values and culture
  • your company research has raised serious questions about the company's financial sustainability and it would be risky to accept a job there
  • you have reliably learned that employees at the company are unhappy
  • you have found out more about the job opportunity and realize that you are a poor fit with the position
  • the working conditions such as work shifts and hours are incompatible with your personal life or the pay is non negotiable and inadequate
  • you have determined that the company's location is a problem - it would be too long a commute or not easily accessible for you
  • you have determined that taking this job interview could put your current employment at risk
  • you have been offered a job that you feel is better suited to you

5 top tips on turning down a job interview

1. Be sure of your decision to reject the interview

Make sure you are not jumping the gun and denying yourself the opportunity of finding out more about the company and job.  Be confident that your reasons for turning down a job interview are valid. Take some time to consider the situation before you send an email to refuse the interview. Can your concerns perhaps be addressed during the job interview?

If you are at all unsure of whether or not to interview for the job, rather take the interview. If nothing else it will provide a good learning experience and an opportunity to practice your interviewing skills.

2. Be polite

If you are confident that turning down the interview is the right decision then keep your communication polite and professional. Maintaining a positive relationship with the company is in your best interests.

3. Be prompt

It is polite and professional to turn down the interview as soon as you are quite sure about your decision. Be respectful of people's time and priorities and let the company know as soon as possible that you are not accepting their invitation to an interview.  This also opens up opportunities for other job candidates.

4. Keep it short, sweet and simple

Write a concise and sincere email that articulates your regret for any inconvenience your decision may cause. You do not need to give a specific reason for turning down a job interview and it is better to avoid doing so.  Your reason may come across as critical of the company or be perceived as devaluing the job opportunity. Providing details can complicate what should be a straightforward process.

5. Send your email to the right contact

Ensure that you address your email to the primary contact at the company. This could be HR, the recruiter or a manager. If more than one person is involved in the hiring process send separate emails to both.

How to reject an interview email examples

The simplest way to turn down a job interview is via email. Never send a text message as this will make you look unprofessional.

Example 1 - Email to refuse an interview

Subject: Invitation to Interview for Job Title on Date

Dear Mr Jones

Thank you for considering me for the position of Job Title and inviting me to an interview with Company Name. However I regret to inform you that I am withdrawing my job application and must decline this opportunity.

I appreciate your time and consideration.


Your Name

Email and contact number

Example 2

Subject: Interview for Job Title - Your Name

Dear Mrs Smith

Thank you for inviting me to an interview for the Job Title position and the opportunity to learn more about Company Name. I appreciate your time and consideration.

However due to recent changes in my circumstances I am withdrawing my job application and I am unable to accept your invitation to an interview.

Thank you again and I wish your company every success going forward.

Best Regards

Your Name

Email and phone number

Example 3

Subject:  Your Name - Job Interview Invitation

Dear Mr Henry

Thank you for contacting me regarding an interview for the Job Title opportunity at Company Name. While I greatly appreciate your time and consideration, I am no longer available for this position.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you again for your consideration.


Your Name

Email and contact number

If you do not receive a response to your email it is advisable to follow up with a phone call to ensure your message was received.

What should I say if they ask for a reason for turning down the interview?

If the company follows up your email with a call to find out why you are declining the interview, you can respond with a general statement such as:

"My circumstances have changed, making it necessary to decline the interview at this time"

"I appreciate your time and consideration but I have re-focused my job search elsewhere"

"I have re-evaluated my career options and I am withdrawing my job application at this point. I apologize for any inconvenience"

Most hiring managers will not press you further about your reasons for turning down a job interview and will be grateful that you informed them promptly and politely of your decision.

Example of email turning down a job interview

Turning down a second interview

You have gone through the first round of interviews and you have decided against the company and the job.  You have carefully considered all the information you now have and have determined that this is not the right opportunity for you.

Once you are 100% sure that you want to turn down a second interview it is polite to do so promptly. Email is an appropriate way of contacting the company.

Example Email - turning down a second interview

Subject: Your Name - Second Job Interview for the Job Title Position

Dear Ms Green

Thank you for inviting me to an additional interview for the Job Title position with Company Name. I am grateful for your ongoing interest in my job application.

After careful deliberation I have decided to withdraw my application and respectfully decline your invitation to a second interview.

I enjoyed meeting you and I appreciate your time and consideration. I wish you and Company Name every success in the future.


Your Name

Email and contact number

How to accept a first interview invitation

Your email reply to an interview invitation should be polite, prompt and gracious. Excellent examples of a response to an interview schedule email

How to accept a second interview request

If you are invited back for a second interview and want to attend, respond with a polite and professional email to formally accept.

Second Interview Acceptance Email Sample

How to cancel an interview email

If you have accepted a job offer with another company it is polite and professional to promptly cancel any forthcoming  job interviews that you have scheduled.

Find out how to cancel an interview via email if you have already accepted the interview.

How to reschedule an interview

Sometimes you just cannot make an arranged interview and you need to reschedule it. There are some valid reasons for this happening which are quite acceptable.

Find out how to reschedule an interview.

Acknowledge, Accept or Decline the Job Offer

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