Say you had an interview scheduled with a company, and during your pre-interview research you discovered dozens of reviews on, say, glassdoor.com in which nearly every employee complains about the same problems:

  1. Little/no work/life balance
  2. Unrealistic expectations/deadlines
  3. Incompetent management and internal politics

What's the most graceful way to cancel the scheduled interview? Perhaps with something along the lines of "another company has made an offer that couldn't be refused, so please cancel the interview as I don't want to waste your interviewer's time"? Or is there a better way?

  • 3
    I think it is always worth finding out issues with different companies (not that you really can at an interview) for yourself rather than from what other people say because there might be more to it than on face value. If you must decline, then I would suggest saying that your circumstances have changed and the position is no longer an option for you. – Michael Lai May 8 '13 at 2:05
  • If you pick a Fortune 1000 company at random, there will be plenty of people with identical complaints. Welcome to the real world (tm)... – Deer Hunter May 8 '13 at 3:35
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    @DeerHunter - Yes, that's to be expected. The problem is that in this case "plenty of people" was at least 95% of them, and all reporting the exact same issues. Including people who indicated they were still with the company. Even people who were generally positive about the company conceded that these problems exist. Some unhappy employees are to be expected. When the unhappiness is endemic, and always for the same reason(s), it's a red flag in my book. – aroth May 8 '13 at 5:13

"I'd like to withdraw my application from consideration at this time," would be how I'd phrase that I want to stop the process. If you bring in other details, that could lead to more questions that really aren't any of their business.

  • 4
    @arith Not giving a reason is better than outright lying as you suggested ("another company...") . – user8036 May 8 '13 at 6:41
  • @JanDoggen - What about a twisting of the truth then? Like "I decided to go with another opportunity", the "other opportunity" being the opportunity of not continuing to apply for a position in such a toxic environment? – aroth May 8 '13 at 22:21
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    @aroth Nah, there's no point. What benefit do you gain from giving them any further information, truthful or not? Clever wording does not score you bonus points in this game. – Tacroy May 8 '13 at 23:44
  • @Tacroy - I don't know, not appearing fickle/capricious I suppose. It seems like that's the impression that would be left by a candidate who withdraws without offering any explanation at all. – aroth May 9 '13 at 6:44
  • And do it as soon as possible. – user8365 May 10 '13 at 15:23

Just go to the interview, and bring up those questions at the end of the interview. Some of it is outright lies by disgruntled employees. Give your potential employer a good chance to counter them.

I played it straight and asked "There are a lot of comments from your former employees that say you have a lot of overtime and work long hours. Is this true?" The HR replied, "We don't call it long hours, we call it a challenge."

I gave lackluster responses to their finish up questions to hint that I was not that interested and we ended the interview promptly after. If they don't get the hint and still call you, you can just tell them you're not interested.


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