What If I Want to Drop Out of an Interview?

Find out what you should do if you changed your mind about joining an employer and you’ve decided to cancel a job interview.
Carmen Teh
Writer, gradsingapore
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Some of you might think, “Why would anyone want to turn down a job interview for a job he or she applied himself or herself?" Not to mention, landing an interview can sometimes feel like a hard-earned reward after filling out all those pages of the job application form and spending hours on customising your résumé and cover letter. Letting the opportunity go can seem like wasted effort.

Well, it’s not uncommon for some job applicants to experience a change of heart about joining an employer right before a job interview. It may be because they've learned something about the company or the role itself that they didn’t particularly like. Or it may be because they just have a gut feeling that the employer or position is not right for them.

Whatever the reason, if you are thinking of dropping out of an interview with an employer, there are three things you should do:

1. Take your time to decide

If your change of heart is because of something new you’ve learned about the employer, you may want to clarify and be sure of this new information before you jump to conclusions.

It can be easy to say “Oh, I heard from a friend that the office politics in this company is pretty bad. I don’t think I can work in a place like that” after hearing negative comments from contacts and friends about an employer. Just as you would with any passing comment, you should take what you hear with a grain of salt.

It’s great that you are doing your research and paying attention to red flags about the company you would potentially be working for – but be sure to clarify your doubts before deciding to give up on your job application entirely.

As such, you could wait until after a job interview before you make up your mind. The whole point of a job interview is for you to find out more about your prospective employer, and for them to learn more about you. Use this opportunity to address the concerns you have with the recruiter (subtly, of course!), and listen to what they have to say.

2. Ask for advice and feedback

What if negative rumours about an employer is not what made you change you mind? What if you just came to a realisation, after days of mulling over whether the job is right for you, that you don’t want the job anymore?

If this is the case, we advise you to speak to someone you trust, who also has experience in the working world. This could be a parent, a senior or even a counsellor from career services.

Getting an outsider’s perspective on your concerns may help you decide whether or not you should drop your application all together. Who knows – maybe your doubts about your incompatibility for the role are unfounded, or you’re just nervous about meeting your recruiter. Who better to tell you that you’re just overthinking than someone you trust and can give you honest feedback?

And if your reasons for dropping out of the interview are, in fact, valid – having a second opinion to weigh out your decision will give you that extra assurance that you’ve made the right choice.

3. Let your recruiter know as soon as possible

So, after taking your time to decide and getting feedback from people you trust, you’ve come to a final decision to pull out on your job application. It is now time for you to inform the recruiter about it.

You may feel guilty, considering the fact that the recruiter spent time to review your application and later went on to invite you for an interview, but remember, there’s nothing wrong with deciding that you don’t want the job anymore, and that you do not want to take that step of going for an interview. However, it is important to let the employer know as soon as possible.

Delivering the news can be tricky as you want to be as tactful as possible, but a simple email will suffice. You don’t have to go into detail as you’re not obliged to share your reasons if you don’t want to.

Here’s an example of how you can inform the employer regarding your decision:

Dear Mr Lee,

Thank you so much for taking the time to consider my application for the Web Developer position. I’ve truly enjoyed speaking to you over the phone and discussing about how my skills and interest would potentially make me a good fit for Milton Express. However, I’ve decided to take a different direction, after much consideration.

I look forward to seeing Milton Express continue to achieve great things. I will also continue to follow the company’s success.

If you have any questions, do let me know.

Best regards,

Daniel Pang