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I'm currently in the situation where I'm about to graduate, and I'm constantly getting contacted by recruiters and companies alike reaching out to me offering me an interview.

At this point I've accepted 4 interviews so far to at least have a choice when it comes to having a first job, but of course I can't accept all of the interviews, even though they offer positions which perfectly suit me. But then again, so do all the positions I already have an interview for.

100% of the companies I've talked to want to do the interview as soon as possible (which I completely understand). This has lead to me having 4 interviews in a very short period.

How do I turn down an interview offer, even though it's perfect for me, so I don't have too many interviews to deal with in the same period?

  • 62
    Remember that four interviews may not be enough to get a good job, I woudl consider scheduling more interviews. Better to have choice than have to accept a poor offer because it is the only one you have or be unemployed. – HLGEM Jun 2 '17 at 14:14
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    On today's episode of "Nice Problems To Have"... – Mason Wheeler Jun 2 '17 at 14:42
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    "they offer positions which perfectly suit me". That's not possible. You just don't know yet why you don't want those positions. – Agent_L Jun 2 '17 at 15:13
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    A job interview is like a first date, and you would like to be married. You might have to go on more dates than you currently expect. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jun 3 '17 at 9:22
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    This is also a good opportunity to practice going to interviews. I would go to as many as possible, just to get to get better at being a good interviewee. – user5621 Jun 3 '17 at 11:53
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Before replying to any further interviews, it would be worthwhile doing some homework on the companies involved and put together a shortlist. If for example ten companies wanted to interview you, I would imagine you have a preference on which ones you would most enjoy and which ones you are more confident you could secure a role in.

If you are getting too many interviews that it is becoming overwhelming, you may have to start making requests of those that don't make the shortlist. Simply put, if you think it might be worthwhile, you will have to arrange later times. If they ask why you are postponing the interview, it would be unwise to say "I've got ten others this week". But maybe you have a family obligation to attend to, or you're ill, or there are some non-academic things you have to wrap up at your college / university. Spread them out as best as can be managed, but do more to accommodate the ones on your shortlist.

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    +1 for doing research before replying. The first four to contact you will likely not be the best four. – David K Jun 2 '17 at 12:03
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    Why exactly is it unwise to say "I've got ten others this week", if the benefit of this situation is that your skills are desirable? – Pysis Jun 2 '17 at 14:15
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    "But maybe you have a family obligation to attend to, or you're ill, or there are some non-academic things you have to wrap up at your college / university." -- Not sure if starting out with deception (however "harmless" you may think it is) is the correct first interaction with a potential new employer (or anyone..?). I'd much rather suggest saying something like "Let me assure you, this interview is very important to me, however, I have some [personal/urgent] matters to attend to that unfortunately conflict with that date and cannot be rescheduled" and proceed to arrange a new date. – maxathousand Jun 2 '17 at 14:19
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    Great answer regarding prioritising, but I cannot disapprove of deception enough. If a company wants you badly enough, and they're indeed looking for the right person, they'll be content to wait a week to interview you. – Tas Jun 3 '17 at 12:29
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    +1 for the shortlist suggestion, but I was very tempted to not give the upvote due to the suggestion to lie. And +1 @Fattie – Student Jun 3 '17 at 19:11
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Prioritize.

@Kozaky's answer is excellent. Research companies. Figure out before accepting or turning down an offer of interview which companies that are offering you interviews are the most likely to fit.

However, to specifically answer your question:

How do I turn down an interview offer, even though it's perfect for me, so I don't have too many interviews to deal with in the same period?

...since even when you have done the research, there may be too many options to choose from, I would recommend keeping three things in mind:

1. Be open and honest

You don't have to shy away from the facts. Honestly tell the potential interviewer that you are swamped with interviews and really can't handle them all. Explain that you have already committed to other interviews, and that you simply can't handle all the possibilities.

Though I don't recommend this approach, I know someone in IT who actually used the fact that he had multiple interviews offered to bargain his salary up before the actual interview.

2. Be appreciative

Emphasize the fact that while you cannot take the interview, it really is a good fit for you, and you appreciate the prospective employer taking the time to make the offer. Express gratitude for his taking the time to make the offer.

3. Leave the door open as much as possible

Offer to call him / her back if ever the other interviews fall through. It might not work with all employers, but some would be just as glad to have the possibility of having you call back later, and it leaves the door open if ever the other companies don't end up being a good fit.

  • Ha! Looks like we were formulating similar answers at the same time. – PoloHoleSet Jun 2 '17 at 13:42
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    Aw shucks! anonymous2's third point is especially useful. My answer was on the assumption that the OP ought not to outright reject interviews if it can be avoided. Going down a wholly honest route, this answer works! Some employers might read between the lines anyway, especially if the OP is soon to graduate! – user34587 Jun 2 '17 at 13:52
  • Thanks for that answer! I've had some experience with recruiters asking during my internship when I simply had no time. I politely explained the situation to them, and 75% of the time I would not hear back from them after that reply. Guess I need to keep point 2. and 3. in mind more! :) – Daxxor Jun 2 '17 at 14:07
  • @Daxxor just remember that it doesn't always rest on your shoulders. Some employers just won't get back to you, and that's fine; it had nothing to do with you. Hence the phrase "as much as possible." :) – anonymous2 Jun 2 '17 at 14:28
  • I can't support this answer. Point 1 is just wrong. In any business meeting, whatsoever (job interview or anything else) it's inconceivable, indeed bizarre, any party involved would mention, in anyway, whatsoever, "why" they are available on certain days/hours of their calendar. (Also, of course, you never, ever, EVER, mention your other interviews, for any reason.) Point 2 is totally wrong! because of course you never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever turn down any interview - ever. Point 3 is meaningless. You simply reply – Fattie Jun 3 '17 at 15:49
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Even though you have an accepted answer, I'd like to elaborate on an alternative process, on how you might rank those companies, a little, when doing the suggested homework.

Instead of picking your favored list of companies from general impressions, create two lists, prior to and independent of looking at any of the opportunities, in depth -

  1. Create a list of characteristics you want in your first job, along with your minimum compensation expectation. For a first job, if you're making what you need to pay the bills, valuable experience will pay more handsomely for you in the long run than a few more dollars up front. If your qualifications are remarkable enough that you have a lot of companies knocking at your door, finding acceptable compensation will probably not be a major obstacle.

  2. Create a list of characteristics you want from your company - culture, work schedule, short-term and long-term features, training and or educational emphasis and reimbursement, leadership, if there are specific work related philosophies or competencies you want or want to learn (Agile/Scrum, Six-Sigma, "no jerks" philosophy, "jerks okay if you are a rock star," etc).

Prioritize those lists by what is most important to you. Also identify the "must-haves" that will automatically disqualify opportunities, even if they check all the other boxes. Now apply the top couple criteria to each of the interviews offered. Does it narrow your list at all? If not, apply the next couple of criteria. Applying that criteria will also help you to prioritize the ones that remain standing.

There will probably be some criteria where, even asking questions of recruiters and company representatives up front, you can't get answers to. That's fine. Keep those characteristics in mind when you go to interview, evaluate the give and take, and get to the part of the interview where they inevitably ask "is there anything you want to ask us?"

Congratulations on being in the enviable and rare position where you have more opportunities than you can manage, before graduating. May the rest of your professional career continue on the same track. Just don't take it for granted.

  • I wish I could pick all 3 answers, alas... The making-a-list-and-prioritizing part of job hunting is definitely something I missed. Thanks for giving even more details on making those lists! – Daxxor Jun 2 '17 at 14:12
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    @Dax - no worries, I just wanted to flesh out some helpful details. I think everyone is more interested in being helpful than accumulating reputation points. – PoloHoleSet Jun 2 '17 at 14:16
  • Almost all first jobs are just crap. In many fields, large companies simply hire shotgun, they just hire simply as many grads as possible, and then cut 9/10ths of them after 12 months. (It's "recruitment by one-year's-trial".) {Quite sad for the majority who thought they "got a job!" because of their college scores, charming cv or whatever.} Moreover, as others have said, at least 2/3 of the contacts and possibly interviews grads receive, are just marketing bumpf, automated, or quota filler. – Fattie Jun 3 '17 at 15:52
  • @Fattie - that's not true. I know a lot of people who have excellent first jobs with companies that put them on an actual high-achievement career track coming out of school. When you are at the top of your specialization area, you get those kinds of offers. It really depends on the candidates. You can say most about jobs, period - they're often crap for the mediocre candidates. – PoloHoleSet Jun 3 '17 at 19:09
5

In the past I had a similar spell of a period of too many interviews, and I was getting already stressed out by the situation.

Learn when to say "no", and ask the job description beforehand just to cut the profiles which are not a fit for you. I reached a point where I included in my linked.in profile "I do not accept job contacts without a job description".

Another possible strategy that I have successfully used is trying to negotiate a screening call via phone or better yet, skype. "Look I am too busy the coming two weeks, however if we could do it via skype..."; this strategy can well shave two hours of an otherwise physical interview and going around the city, and is a good way (both for yourself and the interviewer) to get a feel of the opportunity.

A good filter besides the skype strategy, is asking for changes on the hour of the interview. The bad ones will stand out, as they wont be accommodating/changing schedule for your convenience, and you would not to work with those kind of persons anyway. I can often have a busy schedule two or three days in a row, and from my personal experience, the nicest places to work are the ones that often are very flexible in the time to interview you.

Another one of the possible filters is also asking for a salary range beforehand. Whilst that can be off hand for someone entering the industry, it has saved me (and the interviewer) the trouble in the past of investing time in pursuing positions that were not paying enough to attract my attention.

I hope these tips help you. As a last tip, most of the email contacts are automated nowadays, and as such it is important to get some strategy to filter them out. Some of them are just a way for some RH agencies to have CVs on the back burner just in case. With time you will even distinguish pure spam - "we have a job offer for you, you just have to create an user in our professional social plataform to see it...." yeah, right (not made up)...

2

Firstly it's absurd not to go to as many interviews as possible, as everyone has said.

Go to every possible interview.

Secondly the answer to your literal question couldn't be simpler: quite simply,

in the first instance, just wait a couple of days before replying anyway - you've already delayed a few days in that way -

and then when you reply, very simply type "Yes, that's wonderful, thank you very much, I am delighted to accept you offer of an interview. What dates would be possible from the { insert date here about 5 to 6 days in the future } for your convenience?"

Note that you do not in anyway, at all, have to state anything, whatsoever, about "why" you have mentioned a certain date (5 or 6 days in the future). Just state that date. That's all there is to it.

(If, incredibly, someone replies with "can you come earlier?" or "why can't you come until the Nth?", which won't happen, simply ignore it and say "I'm available in Cityname from Dayname, what is most convenient for your company" and leave it at that.)

Note that even after you absolutely secure a job, even after you are onboarding!, you must go to every possible interview.

Thus, your question in bold,

"How do I turn down an interview offer, even though it's perfect for me, so I don't have too many interviews to deal with in the same period?"

The extremely simple answer is

Don't.

The simple answer is

Never, ever ----- ever ----- turn down an interview, for any reason.

No more than you would throw away a lottery ticket.

It might be a winner.

If you literally just don't know the most business-like phrasing in English, it's just "certainly, what dates would be best for you from the Nth"

(You do not, in any way, whatsoever, for any reason at all, state or mention in any way, whatsoever, why you've stated the date of the Nth. In business English to organize meetings (of any type) each side just states the dates available.)


I note Daxxor that you mention

"I'm not a guy who can easily speak his mind to other people asking new stuff like an interview"

Now that the school part of your life is over, nobody much cares any more about your academic (or even in a way technical) skills. You'll either be wealthy or not in 10 years due to, in a word, your "business skills" or perhaps "business sense". The primary ingredient in that is: communication skills. I'd encourage you, particularly, to go to as many interviews as possible, each one of which will vastly improve your skills and experience in that area.

  • There's a big difference between going to lots of brief on-campus interviews, taking most of day to attend a nearby on-site interview or flying across a country (usually at the company's expense) to go to one at their headquarters. – Chris Stratton Jun 3 '17 at 16:17
  • hey Chris! you correctly point out the three different paradigms; the same applies to all three paradigms. Do All Interviews. nothing would change about what I say. If today's the 2nd and you have a two-day-taking-up interview in another city allowing for travel, just type the words "Fantastic, what date is suitable from the 4th" – Fattie Jun 3 '17 at 16:28
  • Sorry, but accepting every request for a travel-involved interview is just bad advice. Not ruling out things too early when possible is good, but refusing to prioritize at all is bad not just for the candidate, but for the companies too. Always remember that the goal is to find a position where there's a good mutual fit - not to get caught up in making the rounds just for the sake of doing so and at the expense of concentrating on the strong interests and the last days of schooling. – Chris Stratton Jun 3 '17 at 16:31
  • Always go to every interview. If you happen to have to travel, travel. (Note that, the idea of being flown in to a "first interview" is totally theoretical. There's a round of phone interviews, tests, etc first.) – Fattie Jun 3 '17 at 16:34
  • The point you are missing is that if one is not interested after the phone or on campus interview, and busy, one should not waste time honoring the on-site interview request. Your impratical "rule" doesn't allow for that. – Chris Stratton Jun 3 '17 at 16:34
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It is possible you have cast your net too wide and have caught some sharks.

Many "recruiters" are only trying to fill a quota, and will waste your time with meaningless interviews. Often they are just trying to satisfy H1-B and other foreign worker visa requirements and just need to prove they interviewed local candidates.

Beware especially of those who will not reveal the identity of their "clients", and/or take too long to respond - this is called "fluffing" (baiting).

You might be able to trim down your list by simply not responding to those who do not respond promptly. This is called "reverse-fluffing" (cutting bait).

Never pass your resume unless you know exactly where it is going. Restrict it's distribution to specific companies. Put a disclaimer to that effect on it, and in your email signature (see comments below).

Also walk away from any interview that involves any negative commentary. Do not engage in "reverse-negging", just walk away. It is a sign of a toxic environment, usually the result of overpromising to secure funding.

You should do careful research when job hunting, and ensure you are speaking directly to employees within the companies you are targeting.

A bonafide professional offer usually proceeds quickly, politely, and often is decided after the first interview.

Maintain your short-list afterward rather than potentially having to start all over from scratch in the future.

  • Recruiters find our information through our college. So I'm assuming that's where a lot of recruiters are coming from. Maybe it's time to put a stop to them sharing my information. – Daxxor Jun 5 '17 at 6:31
  • A resume is currency. Most companies give referral bonuses to employees who pass resumes that result in hires. Professional recruiters charge 40% of the starting salary of every hire they place. If they pass your resume first, they win. It can get very sharky, especially when arbitrage in global labor markets is leveraged. – Dominic Cerisano Jun 7 '17 at 2:11

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