How to Say You're Not Interested After a Job Interview

By now you've probably heard someone liken a job search to dating. It's not always fun, but you have to reconcile yourself to the notion that you're going to encounter some mismatches and disappointments on your way to finding an ideal match. But settle? No way. The advice is worth heeding if you've decided, after one interview, that a job or the company behind it, isn't right for you. Now you have to tell the interviewer that you wish to withdraw your application from consideration. When you think about it, there's no reason to shake, shudder or stutter about how to tell the interviewer you're not interested in the job. In the short term and especially the long term, you're making the right decision for both you and the interested party.

How Do You Politely Decline an Opportunity?

To get yourself in the right frame of mind, it may help to remember that walking through a company's door for an interview no more obligates you to accept any forthcoming job offer than a date obligates you to marriage. Both processes are about forging a realistic, mutually beneficial alliance, and this takes time and multiple meetings. Besides, as you may know from experience, if recruiters decide that you are unsuitable for a job, they will certainly tell you so. Recruiters may drive the process, but they don't own it. The process of elimination works both ways.

Your motivation for saying you're not interested in a job really doesn't matter. How do you politely decline an opportunity? You just answered your own question: politely, of course.

Say You're Not Interested in a Job Like a Pro

You'll sail through the process that awaits you with four helpful tips from 4 Corner Resources:

  • Communicate promptly. Reach out to the employer as soon as you've made your decision, ideally within 24 hours and definitely before a second interview, if one's been scheduled. It's called professional courtesy, and you're a professional.
  • Pick the proper channel of communication. Since you've met and talked with the interviewer (be it a human resources representative/recruiter or a company executive), it makes sense to tell the interviewer you are not interested in the job over the phone. It's personal, just like the connection you've already made. If you have difficulty getting in touch, leave a voicemail asking the interviewer to return your call. Don't spill the news over a long voicemail. And send an email only as a last resort. (If you've met with other company representatives, send them an email, too. It's good form and another mark of a professional.)
  • Keep your explanation brief. This is another way of saying don't overshare. Still, be prepared for a follow-up question, even with two of the more sensible explanations you could offer: You've accepted another job offer (“Oh really? Where?”) or you've decided that the job “isn't quite the right fit” for you (“Why is that?”). It's your prerogative to demure on answering either question. Sometimes less isn't more; saying nothing is.
  • Remain professional. It's unlikely that the interviewer will blow a gasket upon hearing your news. It should be equally unlikely that you'll take the bait and lose your temper or tell the interviewer any of your criticisms about his company or interviewing process. This should be a quick, three-minute phone call – and a pleasant one, too.

Close the Loop

Now that you have the wind at your back, it should be simple to tell interviewer you are not interested in the opportunity you discussed. If you're not sure what to say, Indeed has examples you can follow, whether you make a phone call or send an email. From close up or far away, this communication is polite and positive – two qualities the interviewer will remember you for, should your paths cross again.