Once upon a time, a temp agency sent me on a job interview. There was a miscommunication (perhaps a mental glitch on my part) about the nature of the client's business. As soon as I became aware of that, I said “I don't want to waste any more of your time.”

Apparently the client was furious about that, because the agent was furious (and never called me again). Evidently I had committed a serious breach of job hunting etiquette that no one had told me about.

I guess this question is for hiring managers: Would you be offended if a candidate said, “No thanks, I don't want to waste any more of your time”?

  • 4
    Way I see it, you dodged two bullets in one fell swoop. Agent not returning your communication because he lost the client due to a mismatch whose origins are unclear?! A company turning furious because a candidate, midway through the pipeline (I assume it was midway) dropped out? Cheez, you are very, very lucky. You did nothing wrong other than having a bad luck to work with such an agent and have your CV send to such a (beep) company.
    – user110557
    Commented Dec 1, 2019 at 10:40
  • I'd be thankful for such a thing.
    – Pete B.
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 20:05

6 Answers 6


You did the right thing as long as you told the interviewing company as soon as you realised the mismatch, and explained there has been a miscommunication.

The interviewing company probably weren't angry at you directly (a reasonable person wouldn't), but they almost certainly were unhappy with the agent who sent a mismatched candidate. But that's not your problem.


It depends on the nature of the "glitch". You say that the issue was with the nature of the client's business. Was this issue something that should have been obvious to you had you done a bit of research on the company before showing up? Or was it something that you realistically might not have understood prior to the interview?

If I'm interviewer for, say, the Royal Bank of Canada, a candidate shows up and ends the meeting 5 minutes in when they find out that the company lends money at interest, I'm going to be upset. I'm perfectly happy if people have moral issues with banks. I'm perfectly happy if a candidate finds out in the course of an interview that the position isn't for them. But I'm going to be pretty upset if I've gone to the trouble to clear my calendar for an interview, review a resume, etc. only to have it end over something that should have been obvious from a basic Google search. Think of how upset you'd be as a candidate if you went to an interview that ended 5 minutes in because of something that was obvious from your resume.

If, on the other hand, the candidate realistically learns something in the course of the interview that they couldn't have known earlier, I'm perfectly happy for them to end the interview early. If I'm interviewing for a law firm that has a bunch of different practice areas and I happen to be looking for an administrative person to work in the criminal defense practice, that may not be obvious from the job description. If someone has been a crime victim and isn't comfortable working for the defense, that's a perfectly reasonable objection. I'd be happy for someone to excuse themselves once they find out that they'd be working in an environment they're not comfortable with.

In either case, I'd rather the candidate end the interview when they know they're no longer interested in the job. No sense in wasting more time. But if the candidate and the recruiter aren't doing a basic level of due diligence, I'm going to be upset with them. If that happened, I'd certainly expect that there would be a conversation with the recruiter about doing some basic vetting of candidates before sending them for an interview. That's what it sounds like happened here.

  • It was one of a thousand small law firms in that city. The confusion was between “municipal regulatory issues” and municipal bond issues. Commented Dec 2, 2019 at 2:49
  • @AntonSherwood - Did you visit the firm's web page prior to the interview? Was the confusion obvious from the web site? If it was, the interviewer would be reasonable to be upset. If the firm's web page was unclear or if there are two firms with very similar names and you happened to go to "Webb, Smith, and Thatcher" rather than "Web, Smithe, and Thatcher", that's a different story. Commented Dec 2, 2019 at 3:12
  • @ChrisStratton - I'd rather the candidate end the interview once it was clear they'd have no interest. I'd be upset with the candidate and the recruiter if the issue should have been obvious before the interview. Commented Dec 2, 2019 at 3:14
  • @ChrisStratton - Good point, I expanded the answer. Commented Dec 2, 2019 at 3:18
  • This was before every firm had a website. Commented Dec 2, 2019 at 3:41

Would you be offended if a candidate said, “No thanks, I don't want to waste any more of your time”?

No, not at all, rather I'll thank the candidate for their attempt to not to cause any further damage than what is already done.

As other answers suggested, being careful about the job post, nature and other applicable terms and conditions is the best way to avoid any confusion and potential loss of time and energy on both sides, but given that an honest mistake has happened and some amount of time is already wasted, the next best way is to let all the stakeholders know as soon as possible and stop wasting everyone's time.

In short: You did right this time, no worries.


I guess this question is for hiring managers: Would you be offended if a candidate said, “No thanks, I don't want to waste any more of your time”?

I value my time and I appreciate those who don't want to waste it.

Thus, I most likely wouldn't be angry with the candidate.

I might be furious with the agency and perhaps the agent - which is what I expect happened in your case.

That said, you and the agent share responsibility for understanding enough about the position before you are sent. Next time, make sure you understand what you are getting into without mental glitches, so that you aren't wasting your time or the hiring manager's time and you aren't putting the agent in an awkward position.

  • 1
    C'mon, mistakes happen. The OP was professional enough to cut the chord as soon as he understood such a mistake happened. Getting furious, with either candidate or referring agent, is a bit an over-kill. God knows if I got upset, not even furious, with every candidate missing out (some on actual interviews, some without ever giving notice or returning my querying email, as if I had to chase them) I'd probably have had massive heart attack once weekly. We chalk it off, put a black mark on the candidate's name in the internal system and move on. At least that's what I do...
    – user110557
    Commented Dec 1, 2019 at 21:27
  • @O.F. Does making the "black mark" mean the candidate is blacklisted?
    – flow2k
    Commented Dec 2, 2019 at 8:51

If I were a hiring manager, I wouldn't be angry with the candidate if they're upfront and honest in saying so. I would say, "That's alright - this job isn't for everyone, and I respect your honesty in saying so. Let's end the interview here."

I would also contact the agent and say, "I just had a candidate end an interview because they had doubts about the position. Can we review the job description? Maybe there are some things we need to clarify to avoid giving out incorrect and unclear information for our candidates."

The angry reaction from the client and the agent was not necessary. You're better off moving on and finding a better agent who understands your needs and spells everything out for you, rather than berating you because you spoke up and said it wasn't right.

I had an interview last year in which the position wasn't bad, but it was so remote and inconvenient I couldn't go further in the process. I told my recruiter this, and I never heard from them again.


Offering a differing opinion here.

I would not advise ever just walking out of an interview. Some people will take offense. I've seen it happen, and you've experienced it. Complete the interview unless there are extraordinary circumstances that justify you ending it.

There are some people who will take offense if you end the interview prematurely, as they WILL feel that you are wasting their time, or worse, feel that you think that THEY are wasting YOUR time. That's likely what happened to you.

Finish the interview, and THEN decline the job, if offered.

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