How to Gracefully Withdraw from an Interview Process

February 05, 2019 Pete Newsome Pete Newsome

It can happen to any job seeker: You’re searching for a new job and apply for positions with multiple employers. You interview with one company and are making your way through the multi-step interview process when a second employer — the one that was your top choice — reaches out and makes you a job offer. What do you do?

Similarly, what if you go through the first interview but realize that the position or company isn’t what you thought it would be — or that the company culture is different than what you were seeking? Knowing how to decline a second interview or how to cancel a job interview you don’t want are essential skills for job seekers.

Knowing when and how to withdraw from an interview process without damaging professional relationships, however, can be tricky. Whether you are an employer who wants to withdraw an interview invitation or are a candidate who has to figure out how to bow out of a job interview, there are specific protocols and rules of professional etiquette that you should follow. Today, we’re going to explore how to decline a job interview without burning bridges as a candidate.

Examples of What to Do (or Not Do) When Withdrawing from an Interview Process

At 4 Corner Resources, we are professional staffing experts who work with clients across the U.S. in a variety of industries from our headquarters in central Florida. As such, we’ve seen countless examples — both good and bad — of how applicants, candidates, and employers choose to remove themselves from the interview process.

Here are two recent examples (one good, one bad) we’ve seen from candidates withdrawing from an interview process:

A Good Example of How to Withdraw from an Interview Process as a Candidate

When a candidate was involved in the interview process for a position with one of our clients, they reached out to us via phone 24 hours before the final interview to inform us that they accepted an offer with another company. The candidate also sent an email to us that was addressed to the hiring manager. This message thanked them for their time and referred a colleague whom they believed would be an excellent fit for the position and company.

This was a great move by the candidate because it informed us of their change in circumstances, which allowed us to remove them from consideration as well as have time to schedule interviews with other applicants. Furthermore, taking the time to write a letter to the hiring manager demonstrated that the candidate valued their time and wanted to provide them with value in return by recommending someone else who could fill the role.

This is a prime example of how to decline a job interview without burning bridges. The candidate:

  • Was transparent about their change of circumstance,
  • Quickly informed us about their change of intentions,
  • Saved us time by recommending a colleague who could perform the role well.

A Bad Example of How to Withdraw from an Interview Process as a Candidate

A candidate did not show up to a face to face interview with company XYZ. The candidate had another interview scheduled for the following day with a different company, ABC. Although they worked at two separate companies, the hiring managers knew each other and communicated about the candidate not showing up to an interview. Due to the candidate’s reported unprofessionalism with the first company, the hiring manager for company ABC canceled the candidate’s interview.

What some candidates may not realize is that even in a big city, it can still be a small world. When a candidate ghosts a prospective employer by not showing up to an interview or failing to communicate with them, it speaks volumes about the candidate — in a negative way. As a professional staffing and placement agency, we inform our clients about these occurrences to keep them dialed in to what is happening with their positions, applicants, and candidates.

In this example, the candidate dumped one interview in favor of another, but ended up burning himself on both opportunities because he didn’t consider how connected professionals are within the industry.

We hope these recommendations help you better understand how to withdraw from an interview process without causing lasting damage to your career and relationships with prospective employers.

If you want to learn more about how to decline a job interview without burning bridges as a candidate or withdraw an interview invitation as an employer, contact our team of experts today.


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