It’s flattering to get the interview. Especially if the recruiter contacted you proactively without your having to apply. While your first response may be “sign me up” for the interview, the reality is that, after some thought, it may not be a fit. Or, maybe you got another offer. But anytime you cancel an interview, especially last minute, it’s going to feel and look bad to the recruiter. But maybe, it doesn’t have to. Here’s how to cancel an interview without burning that bridge.

When Should You Ever Consider Declining a Job Interview?

It’s a dilemma. You may know in your heart that taking any interview is good practice. But seriously, what if you also know that you’re not going to take the job? The money may not be good enough or there may be an element of the work that you really don’t want to do. Should you waste time doing the interview? You’ll have to decide that, but keep in mind that you’re also wasting the time of the recruiter and the hiring manager. Then, if you nail the interview, you’ll end up further down the path toward the offer. How will it look to them if you back out after the first interview versus declining to interview in the first place?

Sometimes, though, there are red flags telling you to walk away early on in the process. Don’t ignore these. We recommend trusting your instincts. Say you had the first interview and it seemed okay but you found a bunch of Glassdoor reviews that are pretty negative. Or, maybe, the interview process is too long and drawn out or you didn’t like who you interviewed with. All of these things matter when considering which company you want to work for.

If you need to get a job, you may have blanketed the market with resumes. As these start to pan out you may or may not have the luxury of weeding out the lower priority opportunities or the ones that don’t seem like a fit. It may make sense to at least keep the door open by having conversations, but ultimately, you have your eyes set on better opportunities.

All of these are reasons to back out of the interview and application process. Plans can change and life can happen. Your current job may come back with a counteroffer and you decide you’re more comfortable where you are. Or, something at home may shift and you find you can only work part-time.

In all of these scenarios, it’s actually okay to share information with your recruiter or with the hiring manager if you’re working directly with them. If it’s a recruiter, keep in mind that they stick their necks out to represent you in a positive light to the employer. So…even though you don’t truly owe them anything, the best way to not burn the bridge is to be honest about why you’re backing out of the interview process. If your recruiter acts any way other than with an understanding attitude, the truth is that maybe backing out was the best thing for you to do after all.

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Jan 13, 2022 By Amy Sanderson