I applied for a tech job, went through several rounds of interviews and got called to the final round. However, I did not like the job and decided to pull out of the process. Wrote a polite email saying the job is interesting but not a good fit for me at the moment. I thought that will be it and that I won't hear from them anymore.

Next day I get an email from the recruiter saying she would like to talk more. I did not answer immediately because I had a lot on my plate. A week goes by and another interviewer gets back to me saying the same thing in different words.

The reason I pulled out was I wanted to work on a specific project they had and they did not want to commit upfront to having me work on that. This was a huge red flag for me. The other team/project they had was not of particular interest to me and I would definitely not want to work on that.

How do I approach this? Do I tell them why I pulled out?

  • 5
    @Fattie, What are you afraid of? That they could bamboozle you into taking a position that you do not want to take? Please see my answer below. Because I do not understand your thinking. Jul 19, 2021 at 19:52
  • 3
    "They" want to talk to you... It seems an important distinction that the recruiter wants to talk more, not the company who was interviewing. If you have no interest in the company, that's a different question than if you are interested in keeping a relationship with this recruiter.
    – spuck
    Jul 19, 2021 at 22:15
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    @sf02 because I am polite. It's business talk. It's like when you get a rejection letter saying they were impressed but went with another candidate. Took my cue from that.
    – Robotron
    Jul 20, 2021 at 4:13
  • @spuck the recruiter works for the.company, they have internal recruiters. Maybe should have made that a bit clearer. I want to keep the relationship with the recruiter, yes
    – Robotron
    Jul 20, 2021 at 4:16
  • 1
    I think you should mention this project to the recruiter who knows he might help you get in that team.
    – xml_dope
    Jul 20, 2021 at 10:54

5 Answers 5


Please do. Recruiters, interviewers and the tech company are human beings who care about doing their best job. They expended resources on you, but you backed out, which of course happens all the time. The nice-human thing to do is answer their questions. The upside for them is they can better tune their processes, and the upside for you is a recruiter that understands your interests better.

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    Giving them an answer might cause one of them to get offended. I expressed my preference clearly to the interviewer and then they started giving me some murky answers that I did not care for. I want to send them off diplomatically and would rather not burn the bridge.
    – Robotron
    Jul 19, 2021 at 17:18
  • @Robotron then time to demonstrate your communication skills. Only you understand your context well enough to do so, but perhaps you can: compliment the people, show your appreciation for the other role, respectfully state that it is not what you want at this time. Jul 19, 2021 at 19:00
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    @Robotron You say you do not want to burn the bridge with this company, and that implies that at some point in the future there is a possibility that you would apply to this company again. If you are not straightforward with this company now and tell them why you are withdrawing from the process this time, what makes you think you will have any better luck next time and not have the exact same experience again, wasting your time and theirs? Better to ask them to correct their mistake now; even if it doesn't help now then it could help you later.
    – Ertai87
    Jul 19, 2021 at 19:55
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    @Robotron > Explaining your reason in respectful terms IS diplomatic. Mentioning you already accepted another position would also probably shut down any attempt at them trying to convince you once again. Being diplomatic can not guarantee that anyone won't be "offended", but not giving any reason could also "offend" people, so if you care about that, you should act the most professional way, and I think this answer is the most professional one. If I was dismissed after several rounds of interview, I would certainly appreciate any answer...
    – Laurent S.
    Jul 19, 2021 at 20:52
  • @ertai87 it's a small country and a small market. Nothing to gain by burning bridges. This same recruiter might switch companies in a year or two and I might want to have an in there. Same goes for the interviewer. Their current company is considered top notch local tech company, so I might want to work there in the future as well. Things change.
    – Robotron
    Jul 20, 2021 at 4:26

As a general rule - do not volunteer any extraneous information that will not - potentially - lead to your ultimate goal

If you think that disclosing that you are only interested in working on specific project will get you to be hired with written promise that you would


that employer will honor this promise made 'under the gun'

Go for it

But, IMHO, you can not be sure to remain on that project.

In any employment contract duties list contains "etc" implication and you can be transferred anywhere your employer need you, with only recourse being resignation

  • 2
    +1 I have no more interest in this company. They were not willing to provide me with what I asked for on two occasions and that sealed the deal for me. There is nothing for me to gain by providing the reason for pulling out.
    – Robotron
    Jul 19, 2021 at 17:11

I suspect that if you had gone to the final stage and gotten an offer, you would have been able to extract a commitment from them. You probably could have stipulated that you would only accept if they guaranteed you would work on your preferred team.

Now that you have withdrawn from the process, they would like to know why (something more than "this position is not a good fit"). You are under no obligation to give a more elaborate answer, but if you do, there is a chance that they may offer you this guarantee. But then again: what happens when the project is over? What if they end up needing you on the other team after, say, 6 months?

  • Bait and switch is a thing. It's a question of whether you really want to deal with that and how much the company commits to something. Some companies do plan to "grind and dump" their staff (burn you out, fire you when project is done).
    – Nelson
    Jul 19, 2021 at 16:39
  • I have no intent to work there. I found something else and moved on. My main motivation here is to provide an answer. However, some answers might require more involvement on my side, such as providing explanations. If I tell them "here is the reason why I pulled out" someone might get offended. When I asked directly if I will work on this specific project the interviewer started beating around the bush. I don't like that since I have bad experience with such behaviour. When I asked again in the next interview, I got the same beating-around-the-bush approach. That sealed my decision.
    – Robotron
    Jul 19, 2021 at 17:03
  • Now, I don't feel comfortable going on a call with them and then berating the interviewer about his behaviour. I am conflict-averse and would rather just have them go away, but still keep the bridges intact.
    – Robotron
    Jul 19, 2021 at 17:05
  • 1
    @Robotron Then that settles it: no need for you to elaborate. If you want to reply, keep it simple/generic, polite, and honest, like "I found another position, but thank you for your time." Ignore further requests for clarification (e.g. "What made you choose that job over this one?").
    – zmike
    Jul 19, 2021 at 19:36

The reason I pulled out was I wanted to work on a specific project they had and they did not want to commit upfront to having me work on that.

Yes, speak to them, but on your terms.

If the person who contacted you doesn't have the power to guarantee you that you'll be able to work on your chosen project, then politely refuse to speak to that person, tell them why you're refusing to speak to them, and then politely hang up on them.

By walking away and not looking back, you've unwittingly gained the upper hand in the interaction. This reminds me of the book called Start with No: The Negotiating Tools that the Pros Don't Want You to Know - Jim Camp (this is not an endorsement of the book. I'm just mentioning this book, because the very act of saying "no" and walking away can sometimes move mountains).

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that they've changed their mind, or that they will change their mind. They most likely haven't and most likely won't.

But in the unlikely event that they're willing to budge, it won't cost you anything to find out. Just be firm. Repeat what you want. And treat them just like you would any other pushy telemarketer (but while still keeping your composure).

And in the even more unlikely event that they're willing to change their mind and change the contract to guarantee you that particular project, have them change the actual contract, and pay an employment lawyer a few hundred dollars to review it and make sure it's ironclad.

In the meantime, keep on doing what you're doing. Keep on interviewing with other potential employers.


You really don't have to give them an answer at all. If you really want to give them an answer just reiterate that you felt the position would not be a good fit for you. You don't owe them a detailed explanation

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