A hundred applications later, and you’re finally starting to get bites in the job interview pond. Some jobs are more of the “this will get me through” or “I can bear this” type, while others are the “cross my fingers and hope I get this dream job” type. Just as college applicants have their list of safety schools and dream schools, so it is with the job search.
The problem arises when one or more hiring managers come knocking at your door. Many applicants end up attending an interview only to realize on the way or in the middle of the hiring manager’s version of twenty questions that they’re just not that into this gig.
Do you have to go on this interview? How do you gracefully back out of an interview without looking like you’re ungrateful or rude? What if you’re in the middle of the interview and realize it’s not for you — they could be nice people but the salary and benefits are paltry. Try these solutions to back out of an interview gracefully.
Hang in There
When the interview is feeling iffy, hang in there. Hear them out, because first meetings always have an element of awkwardness. If you’re in the middle of the interview and realize this position isn’t right for you, finish the meeting out. Weigh the pros and cons after the interview, and in your follow-up, thank the company for its time, but say you’d like to be removed from consideration.
It’s rare that a bad interview is truly a waste of time, especially if the salary sucks. Remember these are factors that you can negotiate now or later, when a job offer arises, and don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth.
See a bad interview as an opportunity to practice for a better one. There’s much to learn about what you do and don’t want in a position, and what position you’re willing to take in order to make a living. That said, if you ever feel you’re in danger or someone is expressing extreme rudeness or distastefulness, you can back out of that interview immediately.
Look for What Fits
Just because the position you interviewed for doesn’t fit, doesn’t mean the company isn’t right for you. A better-suited role may come in the near future or be ready for you right now. So what do you do?
Keep shining a light on your personality and talent, highlighting your other skills and how you want your career to develop. Be memorable. The interviewers are likely to discuss you among themselves, upper-level executives and with other departments if you are an impressive and dynamic candidate. Express that you’re interested in the work of the company beyond this position, highlighting specifics you’ve read about.
Look for what fits, and show interest in the company itself. During or after the interview, express that you would like to stay in touch and grow with the company in a role best suited for you, as your career goals are in line with its vision for the future. It’s up to you to take the initiative to engage the interviewer, keeping them interested in you for a future opportunity.
When Your Gut Says Not to Go
Is your gut telling you to pull out of this interview stat? No matter your reasons, if you are absolutely positive you don’t want to go on this interview, say so immediately.
Don’t waste your valuable time or the time of the company. What mode of communication will work best for you if you feel awkward? Is it phone or email? Don’t make excuses, but leave it brief and a little personal, especially if you could see yourself being interested in another opportunity with this company. Be sure you’re not opting out because you’re afraid you’ll do poorly on the interview itself.
An email gives you time to review your response carefully when looking for a way to politely back out of an interview. Don’t think of this as a rejection. Look at your statement as a grateful thank you but not connecting paths at this moment. Ideally, everyone would go to a job interview and feel excited, but that’s often not the case — and this is completely okay.
In your email or phone call, thank the company for its consideration. List a few positives about the business that stood out to you. Get personal with what you liked. If you discussed a specific project or vision for the future in a preliminary phone call, express your interest and say you’d like to remain in touch for future opportunities or discussions.
This job wasn’t for you, but you made a new addition to your network.
It’s Okay to Back Out, With a Positive, Polite Attitude
It may feel ridiculous to back out of an interview when it’s so rare to get one in the first place. Yes, interviewing is a privilege, but it also wastes your time and the company’s time if you’re absolutely sure you’re not interested in the job.
If you’re in the middle of the interview and still unsure, see it through since you did arrive. Hear them out. Ask questions you want answers to and see this as an opportunity to develop your interview skills. Ask about what else the company is doing or wants to do, especially if you love the company itself but not this gig.
It’s okay to take time to make your final decision. It’s also a good idea to ask other professionals in your network, family and friends what they think for extra insight and clarity.
The key to bowing out gracefully is to stick to the positives and be honest but brief with your no. Earnestly thank the company for this opportunity, and express your interest in leaving the door open, if you want to.