My question is slightly different from this one: How should I phrase an email and/or conversation that I need to back out of an interview?

I have an onsite interview with a company (Company A). They approached me and I did two phone interviews with them. I also am in contact with a recruitment agency (Recruiter B) that is trying to set me up at other companies. I replied to this recruiter's emailed offer to set me up and they have been shopping my resume around for a week or so.

I don't want to continue the process anymore; I want to stay with my current company. What is the best way to:

a) tell company A I don't want to do their onsite interview

b) tell recruiter B I don't want my resume to be sent to any more companies (especially worried about this one because I contacted them a while after ignoring their initial email)

Options I have considered:

a) Just tell the truth to both parties. Pros: it's the truth. Cons: I may come across as flaky. Worried I might annoy people, burn bridges because I wasted their time

b) Beg off with a personal emergency of unspecified nature and indefinite duration. Pros: seems easy, might spare feelings and my reputation if believed. Cons: it's a lie, might seem transparent

c) Do the interview at company A and use option (a) or (b) with recruiter B. Pros: Interview practice. Cons: I lose a vacation day doing an interview when I don't really want to leave my job, I waste my interviewers' time

  • You state that your question is 'slightly different', but I consider it similar enough that I'm voting to close as a duplicate. – user8036 Feb 2 '15 at 9:07
  • 2
    In circumstances like these, people tend to get worried about the personal feelings of the other people involved, but for the interviewers, recruiters, etc., it really isn't all that personal. To them, you are just another candidate. So just be honest, and they shouldn't be offended. As for your reputation, changing your mind and being honest is only maybe a minor blow, versus wasting everyone's time or outright lying. – Kai Feb 2 '15 at 16:09

It is not that uncommon for candidates to back out of an interview after attending the first few rounds. This usually happens because they accepted an offer with another company. However, a candidate choosing to stay at his current company is also not unusual. The hiring manager (or recruiter) also understands this as a "part of the game", and it isn't something you should worry much about.

I have myself done this about a year ago, and I sent them a mail worded (roughly) as below.

Dear John Doe,
I thank you for the opportunity to interview with Acme Corporation, and had been looking forward to the next rounds of interview. However, I regret to inform you my priorities have changed, and I have decided to continue with my current job. Hence, I would be unable to participate any further in the interview process. I do hope to work with Acme Corporation again in future, should a suitable opportunity arise.

As it turned out, I did apply with them again this year when a better opportunity showed up, and even accepted their offer.

You could write a similar mail to the recruiting agency, thanking them for their time and efforts, and (if you so choose), requesting them to keep you "on the radar" should they come across suitable opportunities for you in future (say, a year from now).

Also, lying about an "unexplained personal emergency" will burn bridges faster than telling the truth. You can assume that other interview candidates are as smart as you, and some of them have already used that option. Now look at it from the hiring manager's perspective, who communicates with 10-20 candidates per day. He soon begins to notice a pattern with the "reason" given by candidates who back out, and begins to wonder, "how come 2 out of 5 candidates have an unexplained personal emergency right after we complete a few rounds of interview with them?"


Be direct with them. If you're not interested in leaving your current company anymore, just say so. There is no sense in anyone going back and forth in the interview process if you're not interested in looking around anymore.

It often works in your favor to be up front with a company or a recruitment firm that you have decided to stay in your position. At the very least, you'll know that you haven't lied to them, and in certain scenarios, you'll be contacted again by the company should your decision change.

  • Does this advice still apply if I was the one to approach them? (thinking more of the recruitment agency in this case). Like I said, I don't want to come across as flaky – pioasgas Feb 2 '15 at 6:20
  • It's fine. You're human; you change your mind. At the time you were thinking of leaving; now, you're not. They may ask what changed your mind, but outside of that, there's really no sense in lying or trying to back out in any other way. Considering how deep the networks go with recruiters, the likelihood is that they'll figure out what's really going on indirectly. – Makoto Feb 2 '15 at 6:22
  • Thanks Makoto. Can you elaborate on what you mean by recruiters' deep networks? I am worried about my looking around getting back to my current company. – pioasgas Feb 2 '15 at 6:33
  • Are you canceling your job search? If you are, simply say so. – Vietnhi Phuvan Feb 2 '15 at 10:16

I was in this same situation at a different company(Company A). I had peaked out and was looking for a new job. Word got around that I was looking and Company A offered me a transfer to a different group and pay raise which (at the time) removed any reason for me to look for a new job. I had an interview set up with Company B through a recruiter. When I let the recruiter know I was no longer looking I was up front with what was going on.

About 3 months later the same recruiter calls me up with an offer I could not really refuse (great job, exactly on my career path, and a big bump in pay from where I was even after the promotion at Company A). It ended up being at the same company I was interviewing for before I got the promotion. I landed the job at Company B and the rest is history.

As long as you are professional and up front, it is completely normal for candidates to back out at any stage for a variety of reasons. Companies under stand this and it is one reason they interview multiple candidates. I don't see backing out of the hiring process before receiving an offer burning any bridges as long as its done professionally.

  • yes. Acceptiong a job and not showing up teh first day - this burns bridges, canceling an interview that has not happened yet - this does not unless you are really snotty in how you do it or wait until just before it happens. – HLGEM Feb 3 '15 at 22:19

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