Typically, it's the interviewer – the recruiter or human resources worker – who declines a second meeting with the interviewee, not the other way around. But when you enter into the final stages of the job-application process, both of you are trying to determine if you and the employment position make a good couple. If you and the job are a poor match, it's okay to decline further steps, just do so tactfully. Rejection is always a delicate matter that's best handled promptly, politely and properly in order to keep your reputation intact and your conscience clear.
Are You Sure?
If you got turned off by the interviewer or interview process itself, remember that the recruiter may not even work for the company. Before you blow off the second interview, it's smart to discuss the initial one with a wise, reliable, truthful sounding board – a family member, friend or mentor, for example. If you still intend to decline the second interview, don't wait.
Get on With It
It's unfair to hold off or ignore a request for a second interview or to agree to attend, and then not show up. If the job isn't right for you, contact the hiring manager by phone or email, right away. That way you don't waste her time or yours, and you give another interested party a chance to interview for the job, sooner rather than later. But don't reach for your device just yet; prepare for the conversation.
Yes, rejecting an interview is an uncomfortable situation, maybe even one that you're handling for the first time. But if you've made up your mind, prepare to turn down the request for a second interview with grace, politeness and truth. What will you say if the hiring manager asks why you don't want the job? For example, if you didn't realize all that the position entailed, be honest. Or, if you accepted a job with another company in the meantime, say so. Each situation is different, and the conversation will go much smoother if you prepare for it, as best as possible.
Methods of Contact
Hunting down the recruiter or human resources person by phone can be a time sink. And reaching out by text is unprofessional. Email is an appropriate and often more comfortable way to turn down a request for a second interview. To locate the hiring manager's direct email address, check in your interview materials. If it's not there, you should be able to track down his contact information online. If you still can't locate the recruiter's email address, call the company's reception desk and ask for it.
What to Say
Reaching out to both the employer and the middleman (the recruiter) to explain why you're declining a second interview can reduce the chance of incorrect information being passed up the chain of command. Sending a personal, brief, thanks-but-no-thanks letter is also a courtesy, and tells the employer that you're a responsible, caring person. Being courteous to all involved is especially important if you may be interested in another position with the company at a later date, or you want to maintain a reputable standing in your industry – and just because it's the right thing to do. Your email might go something like:
"Dear Ms. Smith,
Thank you for offering me a second interview for the position of Marketing Associate with XYZ Corporation. I truly appreciate your continued interest in my application and experience.
Unfortunately, after careful deliberation, I've decided to accept another opportunity that's more aligned with my career goals and skills.
I enjoyed meeting you and your team. Again, thank you for your interest, your time and the pleasant interview.
- Don't agree to the interview with plans of pulling out at a later time, or worse, attend the interview for "practice." This is ethically unsavory and disrespectful of the interviewer's time.
- Don't be tempted to lie and say you have another offer -- the company could find out you are still interviewing and this would be very damaging to your reputation.
- Similarly, don't avoid the issue and hope the problem goes away. The longer you delay, the more likely you are to be denying an interview opportunity for someone else.
Lorna Hordos is a home-improvement business owner and freelance writer. She has written hundreds of conversational business articles for WordPress.com, Bizfluent, AZ Central and Global Post.