I'm looking for a new job as a software developer and I applied to many job for which the stack necessary involves languages I'm not familiar with, yet I'm confident I can learn in time.

For one of my applications, I've got a respone with a test assignment with said stacks. I could make some progress by learning about it, but then I realized I can't finish in time; for unrelated reasons, during the next week, I can't do any programming at all, I'll be away.

What's the professional and/or ethical way to tell I'd prefer to not solve the assignment, and thus, to step back from my application?

  • 1
    Why do you want to step back gracefully, are you hoping to reapply in the future?
    – solarflare
    Sep 22, 2019 at 23:00

2 Answers 2


Are you sure you want to step back? If you had time, would you do the assignment? If so, you can write something like:

Due to personal reasons, I won't have time to work on your assignment within the given timeframe.

I am interested in working for your company and would like to request an extension to $date.

If you just want to withdraw your application, you can write something like:

I hereby withdraw my application. Thank you for your time.

  • Actually, I'm not even that interested in working with them, this application was more of a sudden act of desperation. (though obviously I hid this fact as much as I could) I have better options and thus I'm not sure if forcing myself through this assignment is worth it
    – user110071
    Sep 22, 2019 at 11:47


Dear Employer,

I have decided not to continue with my application for x.


Avoid adding qualifiers like 'at this time', 'currently', etc. No need to actually reference the assignment. They all provide wiggle room for negotiation. Unless you are open to negotiation. Sounds like you are not. That's ok. Hence short and sweet.

  • Is it okay to apologize for "wasting their time"? I'm often nervous about it, in fact this is one of the main reasons I decided to ask here
    – user110071
    Sep 22, 2019 at 12:03
  • 7
    @user110071 There's no need to apologize. Both sides go into the interview process voluntarily with an understanding that whatever they invest in it may be lost. When was the last time a company, upon deciding you weren't a good fit for their position and rejecting you, apologized for wasting your time?
    – Blrfl
    Sep 22, 2019 at 12:19
  • It might be depend on culture. I am UK / USA Sep 22, 2019 at 17:03
  • Also recruiters go through thousands of resume a week.. Many will appreciate your brevity, mark you off as not available and forget about your wording in minutes. so it most polite (or considerate perhaps is a better word) to them to be brief Sep 22, 2019 at 17:05

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