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Submitted by jarber on



I had two phone interviews and then an all-day interview at a company. I quickly realized that I would not be interested in being employed at the company (I already have a job and am looking for a good next step). 

How do I write a Thank You to the people who interviewed me and let them know that I am not interested. (also, do I let them ALL know or just the hiring manager and HR staffing person?)

- Jarb

rgbiv99's picture

I just had a similar experience. I sent thank you notes to everyone involved that were pretty standard - thank you for the time and opportunity, etc.

 Then I got in touch with my main contact at the company and let him know that it wasn't a fit for me. In your case, this would probably be the HR person. I explained that I was impressed with everyone I met and the vision of the company, but that I didn't think it was the right next step in my career. We both left the door open ("It's a small town, let's stay in touch, etc.") for possibilities in the future.

ashdenver's picture

If you don't care about your reputation or think the pool is big enough that no one at the company would pass along feedback to anyone else in the industry about you, you could skip the thank you notes entirely and wait to see if they bother to offer you the job - at which point, you would decline.

If you do care about your reputation, I think you would still do the "thank you for your time" notes and leave it at that.  The odds are still in favor of someone else getting the job offer (usually companies bring in the top three or five candidates for those all-day interviews) which means you wouldn't have any decision to make or any "bad news" to share with them.  If they ultimately do offer you the job, you may politely decline at that point - "I was recently presented with a fantastic project at my current employer" or "After consideration, I don't believe I could commit to the commute required for the position at this time" or something similar. 

If you have no interest whatsoever in working for the company in any capacity, you wouldn't want to leave the door open but if you think maybe there's a chance for something better there in the future - and they've offered you the job - I would go with RGBiv's advice about "let's stay in touch and maybe we can find something that's a little better fit in the future."  (The only downside there would be that the company thought you were a good fit already and if you didn't think you/they were a fit, then the odds that you'll both agree on what a "fit" is dwindles down to almost-zero at that point.)

REMEMBER: You have nothing to decide or share with the company until an offer hits the table.

DiSC profile: 7-2-1-5

rwwh's picture
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How did you get from the discussion about a particular opportunity to the conclusion that you would not want to work for this company?


rgbiv99's picture

I'm actually curious about this one and am interested in others' perspectives. I think there is conflicting advice within the casts about whether or not to pursue a job you aren't interested in. On one hand, M&M say to pursue the opportunity until you get an offer; "until you've got something, you've got nothing"; and just because you were given an offer doesn't mean you have to accept it. I agree with all of that.

On the other hand, I remember them saying that by being in an interview you are saying you are interested. They said that if you're not interested then you have no business being there, especially if the company pays for your travel.

I can tell you that in my case, the reason I didn't see it through until the end was because they asked me for writing samples/project plans and references. As part of my contract with my current company, I cannot give these proprietary materials to anyone without authorization from my CEO (still not sure how I'm going to handle this one in the future). And I didn't want to put the firm OR my references through this process if I knew the job wasn't for me.

mmann's picture
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I'm afraid I'm confused. Are you uninterested in the position because they've asked you to provide the writing samples/project plans and references, or is there some other reason?


rgbiv99's picture

Sorry for being unclear.

I don't know why Jarb didn't want to pursue the position. In my case, the writing samples and references had nothing to do with it. I mentioned them as a reason why one might not take the "wait and see" approach.  In other words, I agree that if you don't have an offer then you have no decision to make. However, in my case at least, there was a cost involved (preparing samples and references) in continuing to pursue a position I knew I didn't want.

Hope that makes sense. : )

jarber's picture
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Since done of you were curious....

It was a job for a group that needed a manager. When I asked what happened to the previos manager, I could tell that something wasn't right. I got slightly different stories from everyone. Mind you, this position has been open for six months during the Great Recession so you have to wonder.

During my all day interview I learned that a year ago they had riffed the manager and other senior employyes, thus leaving the team adrift. Furthermore, when I asked about the hiring managers "style" I got responses like "his style isn't for everyone, either it works for you or not"

There were other signs that the work environment wasn't healthy and that the job came with a lot of "baggage"

that' a significant part of why there's no need to lead them on...

jhack's picture

Write the thank you notes.  You don't need to close in the notes.  They took valuable time to talk to you, and you should thank them for their time and consideration.  That says nothing about whether you want the job they may or may not offer.  

If you've decided that the position isn't a good fit for you, call the recruiter or hiring manager (you should know who "owns" the process) and tell them that you are withdrawing your name from consideration, because you are not a good fit for the position.  Express thanks, and tell him/her that you look forward to staying in touch.  

About that conflicting advice:  

M&M recommend going on interviews because you typically don't know whether the job is a good fit or not, or whether there may be another (better) opportunity at the same firm (see the recent cast ).  Once you've got a clear idea of the job and role, however, you know if it's going to be a good fit.  You should not continue with the process if it's not a good fit.  

John Hack

TomW's picture
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I had my response all thought out... and then I saw John said pretty much what I was going to.

Write the thank you note. It's the professional way of saying that you recognize the time and effort the people took to interview you. You never know when they might be working for a different firm interviewing you for a position that you would like to have.

Sending a thank you card just recognizes the time that they spent with you and shows appreciation for it.

I would not call and tell them that I am not interested. You don't know what they will call to say to you. They could call and say that they have a different position that you would be perfect for. If you call and withdraw, you might be squashing a different opportunity.

I think of it as risk/reward comparison.

  • If you call and withdraw, the worst that happens is that you lose out on an opportunity that you never knew you had. The best that happens is that... uh... what's the benefit of that?.
  • If you leave it alone, the worst that happens is they call you with an offer and you politely decline. The best that happens is they call you with an offer and you decide maybe it's not so bad after all and you accept.

Given a choice between those two pairs of best/worst, I know which I would pick.