TL;DR I agreed to a job interview and now I don't want to go; how do I explain it to the HR without burning the bridge for further applications to the same company?


Some time ago I applied for multiple job positions, as I perform very well in my current company and wanted to get some perspective on how much raise I can ask for while being periodically evaluated.

HR from one company called, we agreed on the interview date, it's next Monday. I received an invitation email and then realized that the office I would work at is 1-hour drive from my place of living, and I definitely don't want to travel 2 hours a day (on good traffic days) to and from work. I do know it's my bad that I did not consider it before applying and agreeing to meet.

However, I like the company culture and projects very much and I think I might apply there again in the future, preceding it with the relocation (I rent a flat, it's not THAT big of a deal, just definitely not now, as I relocated recently and like it so far).

Difference between my question and possible duplicate is that I (in my opinion) don't have an honest excuse to cancel the interview, while OP in the other question does - he decided to stick with his current company.

Another difference is that it leads to the great answer by ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere.

  • 2
    Voting to leave open : the other post is about an exit interview - something completely different than a job interview.
    – gazzz0x2z
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 11:40
  • 8
    @gazzz0x2z it's not about an exit interview - it's about exiting the interview process. As in, you've started to apply for a job but want to stop doing that, including future interviews.
    – VLAZ
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 12:36
  • 1
    Sorry, was meant to be a tongue in cheek answer.
    – CrossRoads
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 23:49

5 Answers 5


Don't think of it as skipping the interview - you're politely declining one particular opportunity.

Dear HR,

I am writing to let you know that I will not be continuing further with my application for the [position].

Thank you for your consideration of my application, and apologies for the late notification. I hope we can discuss other opportunities in future.

Keep it simple - interviewers are used to having cancellations, and if it's done politely and in advance of scheduled interviews this will count in your favour.

  • 1
    Just hit the "Send" button - thanks for the suggestion, I didn't think of not giving a reason, all ideas I had were to make up some false one.
    – wscourge
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 11:34
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    They might come back and ask why - which would show that they were particularly interested in you. In that case, you could just say that on reflection it didn't fit with your current plans. Then again, they might not (though that wouldn't mean they weren't interested). Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 11:40
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    It went great. They thanked me and invited me to apply in the future. Thank you :)
    – wscourge
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 14:44
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    Notably, from a pure cost point of view, it's much more profitable for the company to have the interviewers do something else because the candidate canceled rather than spend their time in the interview only for the candidate to decline later. The sooner the process is interrupted, the more costs are saved on either side. Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 16:46
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    +1 - just wanted to add: Interviewers typically don't care what the reason is. I mean, they're looking for a position to fill, and the main concern is "Who is going to fill it?" Whether Candidate X can't do it because of health reasons, commuting reasons, or they already accepted another job - is immaterial to the interviewer. What they care about is, "Candidate X is out. Who's left in consideration?"
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 18:01

Just be honest. Tell them how much you like them, but that the 2 hours daily travel is a deal breaker for you and you just realized that.

Who knows - they may move their office some day or find some other opportunity for you. Maybe they (and you) can live with with a day or two weekly at the office and some home office days, maybe they can come up with something else. Or they may agree that 7 hours work day could be fine for you so they compensate 1 hour and you go with 1 hour.

If you give them the real problem - they may be able to find some real solutions. No company will just throw away a good and honest engineer, trust me :).

  • From experience, I'd rather work three more hours than commute 2 hrs a day. More money / less time at work just isn't worth that stress.
    – DonQuiKong
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 13:51
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    It might not even require waiting. Many, many years ago, I went to an interview that I thought would be a bad commute ... the team lead was familiar with where I lived, and told me about some back roads that cut down on the commute. They were also flexible enough that I could shift my hours to not commute during rush hour (checking e-mail and such in the morning before heading in, so I wasn't there 'til late at night, either). And once I had established myself, they let me work from home much of the time. I ended up working there for 14 years, so it's worth being up-front and honest.
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 14:25

I (in my opinion) don't have an honest excuse to cancel the interview

Yes you do. Your honest, actual reason is that you don't want to work at the company because you've realised the commute is so long. That's a perfectly good reason. Obviously, you're sorry for not noticing that sooner, etc.


Honesty is the best policy if it's a job that you may be interested in the future simply just contact the employer explain them that you had prior authorizations, but you are still interested in a job at a later time and point and if you decide to go that route you will definitely give them a call to set up a different interview.


Just tell them that you are cancelling because you decided to take another job offer from a different company.

It's a white lie, because you did decide you will take another job offer you will receive at some point in the future.

  • 21
    Well, it's always risky to lie. Most of the time, it goes undetected, but as soon as it gets detected, an uncontrollable amount of problems may occur.
    – gazzz0x2z
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 10:43
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    So technically if OP applied to the same company in the future, the company could cross-check his CV and notice that he did not end/start a new job around this time. I think it's highly unlikely any company is doing such rigorous background checking (though, depending on the job, they might). Nevertheless, it seems unnecessary to lie on the off-chance it could come back to bite him.
    – Roy
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 11:12
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    @Roy it's especially unnecessary since you could simply omit that. If you don't explain the exact details, you aren't lying. A simple "my circumstances changed" can mean a new job offer or that you decided to stay at your company. Or that even your company had a new job offer for you. Or anything else. You don't owe the interviewers an exact account and your precise reasoning for every decision you've made when it doesn't concern them.
    – VLAZ
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 12:40

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