Yes, You Can Turn Down A Job Interview

Work for more than bananas [Via philcampbell]

Work for more than bananas [Via philcampbell]

I know what you’re thinking. We’re still in a recession or something, right? Why on earth would you turn down a job interview? But the truth is, people are liars, and sometimes jobs are not what they seem. Maybe you thought you were applying for one type of position, and after a phone interview discovered it was something completely different. Maybe it’s something you like but too far away/crappy benefits/something else legitimate. Whatever the reason, sometimes you need to take yourself out of the running.

Firstly, you need to figure out whether you actually want to cancel, and there are different schools of thought. Ask A Manager says if you’re 100% sure you don’t want the job (and let’s assume this is after a phone interview or something where you know they’re interested and you’ve gotten more information than whatever the initial job posting says), you shouldn’t take the interview, as you’re taking an interview slot away from someone who may really want it, and wasting both your and the interviewer’s time. However, Forbes says you should still go, because it may be an opportunity for networking or just practicing your interview skills, or the job may surprise you. We can’t make that decision for you.

If you do decide to cancel, first, be prompt. As soon as you know it’s not right for you, say something. It’s just a lot nicer than calling an hour before your interview and saying “you know what? Sorry.” And if possible, do this over the phone, though honestly most correspondence is done over email these days. Finally, be honest about your reasons, though you don’t have to go into a lot of detail. Sometimes the reasons are concrete (you’re moving far away), and sometimes they’re not (you just don’t think it’s a good fit).

You can say so about either of these things. If it’s more on the side of “it’s just not what I’m looking for,” use your email/phone call as an opportunity to educate them as to why. Once, I interviewed for a job that would pay a lot, but it was “freelance” pay so I would have had to pay all the taxes, and there was no health insurance or paid vacation/sick time. I tried to negotiate on this to no avail. Once I decided that I wanted to cancel our schedule in-person interview, I emailed them, thanking them for the opportunity, but that “upon further review of the position and compensation” it wasn’t the right fit for me. Hopefully they were able to pick up on the fact that you’d need to pay someone a hell of a lot more than what they were offering if there was no health insurance.

Have you ever turned down an interview? Did you ever go to an interview only to find the office/person/job to be absolutely ridiculous? Tell us!

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7 thoughts on “Yes, You Can Turn Down A Job Interview

  1. My husband began interviewing for one position and they decided, somewhere during the process of SIX interviews, that they wanted him for something else without telling him. So while he was interviewing with one position in mind, when the offer came for a lower position an hour from home instead of fifteen minutes – he tactfully turned down the job and did a really fantastic job of explaining why. Your story about the freelance position not paying enough reminded me of it. I think employers are getting used to a lot of competition for jobs and are forgetting common courtesies.

  2. I interviewed for a job for a lawyer when I was fresh out of law school that told me up front they wanted 75-80 hours per week and travel 2-3 days per week after you’d been there 6 months. They said nothing about compensation at that point, and a desperate newly-minted lawyer with 6-figure debt, I felt I had no choice to go through two interviews, even though it was for a social security firm (basically filling out paperwork) and ungodly working conditions. I should have turned down those interviews because everything they told me about the job screamed “this will be HORRIBLE,” but I felt, like many of my classmates, utterly screwed. I didn’t end up getting the job, which ended up being a very good thing, as they offered $40,000 with no benefits and and only partial reimbursement for work-mandated travel. If I had a) known how to gracefully tell them thanks but no thanks, and b) not been terrified I’d never get another interview ever, I would absolutely have told them I was NOT interested.

  3. I had a phone interview for an administrative position to find out more about the job, but as soon as I hung up I realized that this was not something that I was interested in especially since it was not paid, and as an out of state college student unpaid internships were not an option. The only thing that I regret doing is waiting so long to inform them that I did not want to go forward with the second interview. I didn’t know what to say plus I was too nervous. But now I know how to conduct myself if another situation like this one were to come along again.

  4. I feel so dumb about this. I applied for a job through indeed and the town was close to me (10 minutes) but when they phone called to schedule an interview in person, they told me the location was actually 30 minutes away in a micro-city. The pay is less than what I made at my old job (lay off) and 2.5X farther away (20 miles vs. 8 miles). I would never mind 20 mile drive to work if I got paid well, but the job is hourly and not in the double digits so…I said Yes to the interview anyways because I had been searching and they were the first to call back. I had car troubles the morning of, so I cancelled and rescheduled which they were fine with. I went on their company website to learn more about them and just found out the job I applied for is only 2nd and 3rd shift, something that was not mentioned in the phone call or on the indeed. Now, for the pay, I definitely don’t want to go to the reschedules person interview, because its far away, little pay for the wrong shifts. I feel selfish because I do need money but that 30 minute drive to and from a shitty city late at night for that little pay seems so unreasonable. I want to phone them again and cancel but I feel so bad because it’s the second time now….

  5. I’m late in the game here but right now I work 2 jobs, and one of them-a temp job- is ending soon.

    I’m very interested in botany/urban farming so when I saw an interior landscaping job I thought, “Hey, I’m in my 20’s and trying to figure out my career, why not give it a try?” So I emailed the company.

    In the phone interview the guy mentioned the job would be part-time (Maybe 3 days per week), 45 mins- 1 hr from my house, no benefits, and require driving from appointment to appointment, all for a whopping $13/hr on average (Plus gas/parking reimbursement). He also was being kind of arrogant (Ex: “Oh, you don’t have a lot of EXPERIENCE, so…”) and insisted the only time slot left for an interview would be at 11 am the next day. I see this a RED FLAG in potential employers when they refuse to accommodate your schedule.

    This is whatever to me since I have a good support system, but I felt torn because I also feel like I prefer full-time hours at this point since that translates to more money.
    I figured I’d check out the interview since it could be an educational experience or lead to more opportunities down the line.

    The morning of the interview, however, I was speaking with a friend and mentioned the job to her, and she said she knew a person who worked there for 10 months but still is part-time. She said there’s nothing special about the job, the training isn’t anything advanced, and what about wear and tear on your car? Basically she opened my eyes to the reality of the situation.

    Needless to say this morning, 1 hour before the interview, I called and cancelled, explaining it was for economic reasons. Then I went to work.

    There are many other jobs out there, ones in the same field that don’t suck so bad!

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