Suppose you’ve just had an interview with a company, and after spending a few hours in the office speaking with the team, you realize that the position is not right for you. Or suppose that you’ve been interviewing with multiple companies and your preferred choice just got back to you with an offer–and a 24-hour deadline to accept. If so, you might find yourself in the position of withdrawing your job application with a company after you’ve entered the hiring process. 

Keep in mind that options have a lot of value, especially if you can leverage multiple job offers in the negotiation stage. But if you do want to withdraw from an interview/hiring process, there are ways to navigate that gracefully. Here’s a quick overview of how to tell a prospective employer that you’re withdrawing your job application, as well as a template for exactly what to say in that withdrawal letter. 

Some Reasons to Withdraw a Job Application

There could be many reasons why you might choose to withdraw from a job. Maybe you’ve been hired elsewhere, realized the role isn’t a good fit, or have personal matters that will prevent you from joining a new company at this time. The good news is that candidates withdraw from job applications all the time, and if done with respect and promptness, a withdrawal doesn’t have to have any negative consequences for your overall career. 

When to Withdraw from a Job

The short answer is, as soon as you know you do not want the job. 

It’s important to be courteous and inform an employer right away if your candidacy is no longer in the running so that they can focus their efforts on other candidates. If you’ve accepted a job offer with another company, we recommend withdrawing outstanding applications with any other companies immediately. That’s why it helps to stay organized during your job search with a spreadsheet or other means of tracking which companies you’ve applied to and your stage in the process. 

How to Withdraw

The way to withdraw a job application will depend on where you are in the process. If you haven’t been invited to an interview yet, it’s likely that you can log into your application portal and choose an option for “withdrawing” your application. Or if you’re working with a third-party recruiter, you can communicate your decision to that person and let him/her take care of the rest. However, if you’ve already interviewed with the company and have established a deeper connection, then your withdrawal should be personally sent to your contact–in writing. 

Communicating your withdrawal from a job application process requires a delicate balance between showing appreciation and declining a role. You don’t want to burn any professional bridges! A brief, professional email is the best way to communicate your intention and leaves no room for ambiguity. It’s also a way to leave a final impression of your professionalism. 

What to Say in the Email

Start by addressing the email to the hiring manager or in-house recruiter you interviewed with. Say something positive about the company and thank them for their time, but explain briefly why you will not be continuing in the job application process–you’ve accepted another job, you’re moving to a new city, you’ve decided to take your career in a different direction, etc. You don’t need to go into too much detail (and in fact, it’s better not to go into too much detail if you noticed some red flags at the company during your interview process). Rather, keep the tone positive and take the “it’s not you, it’s me” approach.

Sample Withdrawal Email Template

Subject Line: [Your Name] – Update on Status of Candidacy for [Role]

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name]:

Thank you for taking the time to interview me for [Position Title] at [Company Name]. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet the team in person and learn more about [something specific that came up in the interview]. After careful consideration, I have [list reason here: “accepted a position at another company,” “determined that my skills are not a match for the role,” “decided to relocate,” etc.] and would like to withdraw my application.

Thank you again for your time and consideration. I wish you luck in your search.

Best,

[Your Name]

But Wait–What If You’ve Already Been Offered the Job?

If you’ve been extended a job offer but wish to decline, you can use the same type of email template as above. You may also wish to add a request to stay in touch, especially if you’ll be staying in the same industry and may cross paths again in the future.

Now if you’ve already accepted a job offer, you should do everything possible to ensure you can stick with that commitment–especially if not doing so will breach an employment contract. However, there may be certain reasons (health concerns, unexpected personal circumstances, etc.) that would require you to decline your offer or withdraw from the job. According to a Robert Half survey, 28% of workers said they have reneged on a job offer, usually because a better opportunity came along. Withdrawing after accepting should only be a last resort. 

Final Tip: Only Apply to Jobs You Want in the First Place

To reduce the likelihood of withdrawing from a company’s hiring process, make sure you do your research at the outset and only apply for companies that you believe would be a great fit for you. Go on some informational interviews, read reviews of companies initially. Then, honestly assess each job description to determine if you can see yourself performing the duties of that role every day.