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I had an interview with an organisation today and by the end I realised that this is not for me.

So, in the beginning one of the two interviewers was making a wrong statement over and over again. So, I corrected her, with good intentions. But, it went downhill from there...

She kept on asking me if I would be able to handle this position. Whether I will be able to perform this and that duty (in the advert no such thing was actually mentioned).

Moreover, I was informed that although I would be working with them, it's another organisation that will offer me the contract. This completely turned me off. Near to the end of the interview, I was stunned as they asked me what do my parents do! I know interviewers tend to ask this as an ice breaker, but it was nearly at the end...

Anyway, I'm completely okay with not getting a job offer there. But, at the end one of the interviewers asked me to send some references. Moreover, despite everything I think that they were quite impressed with my qualifications. I think that they are keeping me as a backup. But I'm convinced that I don't want to work there. How do I politely refuse them?

  • "I was informed that although I would be working with them, it's another organisation that will offer me the contract." How will that affect your compensation, benefits, stock, job security etc? Is it a fixed-term or rolling contract, temp, temp-to-hire, permacontractor...? Are you officially allowed say on resume "I work for company Y (via staffing company X)"? – smci Jan 16 at 14:24
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    @smci Sounds like an employment agency and yes, this will majorly affect compensation and benefits. For starters, the agency would want their cut. The benefits are often worse (although often enough not that worse) than direct employment. Getting told these details this late in the recruitment process is a red flag, although (at least around here (NLD)) an increasingly common one. – Mast Jan 17 at 6:32
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    Dude, you have the PERFECT opportunity to tell them "I will let you know...". – Nav Jan 17 at 12:42
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    "No thanks." ??? Why does this even need a question? – Andrew Jan 17 at 17:03
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Just keep it simple and polite. Something like the following should do fine:

Thank you for the opportunity you presented, accepting me for the interview. As a result of the interview, I understand that this particular job is not what I have in mind for my future professional development.

Eventually (if it is the case) you might add:

Please keep me informed if other positions are made available, especially in the area of (whatever you find interesting for the future job)

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    I would be a bit more blunt, but at least totally honest why i'm not interested. That's what I would like to hear when I'm interviewing people. – Mathijs Jan 16 at 7:35
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    @Mathijs: you are right, telling the truth could help make a better world. But the way the (most) recruiters handle the information received, taught people to avoid telling the truth, and be politically correct. Unfortunate, but reality. When do recruiters actually tell candidates the real reason for rejection, instead of serving a template message with no usable information? Not to mention that many recruiters do not even bother sending any message. – virolino Jan 16 at 7:39
  • @Mathijs I agree with you. However, judging by your username, your Dutch (as am I). We (Dutchies) are (more) used to getting the truth presented as fact. Political correctness be damned :) A lot of the rest of the world is quite sensitive though, so this answer would probably suit most of the world. – rkeet Jan 16 at 11:12
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    @rkeet: I confirm that my answer refers to "the rest of the world", since I know nothing of the Dutch culture. "Political correctness be damned" - I agree ;) – virolino Jan 16 at 11:25
  • I agree that virolino's answer is very streightforward, but I would keep it much more simple, as suggested by @Mathijs. I would not mention any reason, I would just send them a short email that I am withdrawing. You can make up your mind in the later stage or maybe there will be another position later. By saying you are not counting with them in the future can than be kept a little bit too unkind and against you. – user3624251 Jan 16 at 12:47
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If you're really sure you won't be proceeding, the polite and professional thing to do is to tell them as quickly and unambiguously as possible, so they can disregard your application and focus their attention completely on any remaining candidates who are interested.

Your first sentence is the signal. Just reword it, and you have your email:

Thanks for the interview today, but I've realised this job isn't for me and I won't be proceeding. All the best.

The rest of the detail is just noise and will only serve to confuse the message and potentially waste both your time. If they respond and ask for it, then provide it, but until then assume it's irrelevant.

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You roughly have two options:

  1. Thanks for the interest, but this role isn't for me.

  2. Thanks for the interest, but this role isn't for me. The fact is. I really wanted to work directly for you guys, but I was disappointed to learn that this position was only available through an intermediary agency.

Option #1 is short and sweet. Use your own words if you want. My point is that there is no need to explain anything. It's not like they would explain their reasons to you if the situation was reversed.

Option #2 gives them a chance to address one of your concerns. Only choose that option if you would be willing to consider an offer of direct employment from them that didn't include an intermediary agency.

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If they contact you again either to schedule another interview, or to send them references, then you should tell them that you are no longer interested. I prefer to send this message via email. It lets me control the length of the conversation, and it gives me time to come up with the exact phrases I want to use. You don't have to provide a lot of justification or a lot of information. I would just be polite but basically tell them that "I am no longer interested in moving forward with this opportunity". To make sure that I can do this over email I would let any phone call from them go to voice mail.

Based on the number of questions we get on this site, it is also possible that they will ghost you, so you might never have to send the email.

If they send you an offer letter, it might contain a contingency clause that requires you to provide references, or take a drug test, or submit information for and pass a background check. It doesn't matter if there are contingencies or not, send the short polite email discussed above. Some companies may require you to go to a portal to accept or reject the offer. If they have that sort of system, use that method to also reject the offer.

The nice thing about getting an offer letter is that you get a data point regarding what they were willing to pay you.

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    The polite thing to do is to be proactive. Don't wait for them to contact you - if you are sure you are not interested, get in touch with them. – DJClayworth Jan 15 at 15:23
  • @DJClayworth especially if they're still really considering OP (even as a backup), this will make their decision making a lot easier (why waste someone's time when OP already knows they're not interested in the role). – kiradotee Jan 20 at 11:52
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Don't.

This goes against your own interest.

Recruiters have plenty option to choose from and they will be contacting multiple people afterwards (priority given to top choice). If top candidate declines the offer they contact next.

Say they decided to hire you - you can then politely decline (they will contact next pick). So this is not really an issue for recruiters.

However if you tell them to disregard your interview you just wasted your time. Throwing away an opportunity to learn how much you are worth.

Even if you are not interested in the position you might be contacted back with an offer. You have an opportunity to negotiate how much they are willing to pay. Ask 50% more then what they offer etc. You got nothing to loose, since you don't care about this job. On the plus side you might get a hint of how much your skills are worth.

If they never contact you then who care, they picked someone else.

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  • What do you say when you turn them down? If you wait until after salary negotiation to tell them that you knew back in the interview that you didn't want the job then they'll be irritated you wasted their time. If you insist on more money than they want to spend, they may be hesitant to consider you for future roles because they know they can't afford to hire you. – BSMP Jan 16 at 20:41
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    I might have agreed with the first part of this because admittedly there's a lot of value in knowing how well you did in an interview, and what kind of offer you're likely to get. But absolutely do not carry on a negotiation having already decided not to accept any offer. That's the height of bad faith. – Alex M Jan 16 at 22:56

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