How to drop out of an interview process without alienating anyone?
March 4, 2013 1:11 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way to say you want out of an interview process before it's reached the offer stage? Difficulty: The company is one you want to interact with positively in the future.

In the past, I've only turned down jobs after an offer was extended. Doing that was straightforward because you can just say you got a better offer or that the offer didn't meet you needs, and everyone understands.

I'm interviewing with Company B tomorrow (first in-person after two phone screens), but I received an offer from Company A after scheduling that interview – an offer that I'm probably going to take. I thought that it was polite to go, and there's a small chance I'll end up finding out Company B is a better place to work.

It occurs to me that in the possible event that they're interested in me after the interview and I have to let them know I'm no longer interested, I have no idea how to phrase it to minimize offense.

Other pertinent facts:

- I have a limited amount of time to accept Company A's offer, so I don't have time to go through Company B's process unless I'm sure I want to turn down Company A.

- I want to maintain good relations with Company B because they are active in a community I'm interested in continuing with. The local meetups for this community are at Company B's office.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've just said "I've decided to accept another offer. Thanks for your time and consideration!" and done it as early as was reasonable in the process.

It's not "polite" to go through an interview for a job you suspect you don't want, although it may be practical and it's also not impolite as such. The last job I took, I had an interview scheduled for another company in the afternoon of the day I got the offer. This is the text of the email I sent:
Sorry to have to do this, but I just accepted an offer with another company this morning and won't be available. I really appreciate you following up with me for this position, and if I become available again after this contract ends I'll definitely give you guys a shout!
It certainly seemed not to offend anyone, because they contacted me again a few months later to see if I was available for a different job.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:21 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

You're not going to offend anyone by letting them know you've accepted an offer from another company. This is perfectly normal for anyone who is hiring. Generally, the thought process on the hiring party is, "Damn! We were too slow!" and that's about it.
posted by xingcat at 1:24 PM on March 4, 2013 [6 favorites]

If, as you allude to in your question, there's a small chance you might choose an offer from B over the current offer from A, I think it's completely ethical and reasonable for you to go to the interview with B to find out whether that's true. If, however, you definitely wouldn't take B over A under any circumstances, you should cancel the interview to avoid wasting everyone's time.

If during the course of that interview, you decide that you do want the job, you can tell them about your timeline. At the end of that interview, when they ask if you have any questions, say something like, "I'm very excited about this position. However, I have another offer to which I have to respond by [DATE]. Do you have a sense of when you might be making decisions about hiring for this position?" Then, see what they say.

This happens all the time. It's nerve wracking for you because it doesn't happen to you all the time, but it's pretty routine, and people understand, and they won't be offended (unless they're totally unreasonable, in which case you didn't want to work for them anyway!).
posted by decathecting at 1:25 PM on March 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

This happened to me. Just call the interviewer and say, "I wanted to let you know that I've accepted another offer."

Interviewing is a hassle, and now they can call anther person in.

Don't waste anyone's time. They'll appreciate that above all!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:24 PM on March 4, 2013

Interviews are not just for companies to decide whether they want to hire someone. They're also for individuals to decide whether they want to work at specific companies.

You have an offer but you have not decided; there's nothing wrong with weighing all of your options before you decide. An initial interview will let you make an informed decision.
posted by headnsouth at 2:29 PM on March 4, 2013

You don't say how long your 'limited time' with Company A is - long enough to go to one interview, but not two?
I've had this happen twice, and both times I accepted the first offer (bird in the hand). The second time it happened, I was waiting to hear back from Co. 1 (I'd spent an entire day there interviewing) when Co 2 made me an offer. I said yes. The next day (before I had a chance to contact them) Co.1 said "We've decided to hire someone else."
So - bird in the hand. Just because you're interviewing at two places doesn't mean you'll get two offers.
Oh, and congratulations on your new job!
posted by dbmcd at 4:13 PM on March 4, 2013

Call and let them know that in the interim you've received another offer, which you have decided to accept. Add that you enjoyed meeting everyone, and appreciate the time they spent with you. A gracious decline will help keep the door open to future opportunities there.
posted by mama penguin at 8:03 PM on March 4, 2013

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