When Is It Okay to Decline an Interview?

Interviewing is a necessary step in the job search process, and it is important to leave the best impression possible when interacting with an employer. One tricky situation students may face is the decision to decline an interview. There are certain scenarios when declining an interview is appropriate, and others where it is wrong.

It is okay to decline an interview if:

  • You have accepted a position with another company. Once you accept a position with another company, it is expected that you cease all interview activity with other companies.
  • You are seriously ill. If you are feeling very ill, do not force yourself to come in and interview. Your illness would affect your interview performance, and you don’t want to risk getting others sick.
  • You have a family emergency. Unexpected things in life can happen, and at times it is necessary to prioritize your personal life over professional activity.

If any of these situations do occur, we do ask that you decline your interview in Nittany Lion Careers as soon as you know you will be unable to attend an interview. If you are cancelling the day of an interview, you must contact Business Career Center directly.

It is not okay to decline an interview if:

  • You are no longer interested in the company. Even if you think you are no longer interested in the company, it is important to follow through with an interview. They chose you as a candidate with the potential to hire and succeed at their firm. You cannot be sure you won’t be a good fit for the company if you don’t make the effort to learn more about their culture and opportunities the position may hold for you.
  • You are ‘busy’. When signing up for an interview, you committed your time for a certain date and the employer is expecting you to honor that. While exams and activities are important, time management is a skill that you should be developing as you enter the working world. An interview is at most a few hours out of your day. Canceling may result in an employer having a bad impression of you both at the time of the interview and in the future should you choose to reapply at the company.

Throughout the interview process, please remember that you are also representing Penn State University, The Smeal College of Business, and the Business Career Center. It is very important to our relationships that students conduct themselves both ethically and professionally during the job search and employment process. It is a privilege to be selected for an interview and canceling for an inappropriate reason will reflect poorly on you, the BCC, Smeal, and Penn State as a whole.

If you have any concerns about the interview process, please call or stop into the Business Career Center. Our career coaches will help you make an educated and professional decision.

By Emily Yanchuck
Emily Yanchuck Marketing Communications Specialist Emily Yanchuck