Ending a Job Interview Early

Politely thank the interviewer if you leave an interview early.

Politely thank the interviewer if you leave an interview early.

It's best to finish a job interview, even if you discover you're no longer interested in the position. You can always decline if you're offered the job. If you've accepted another job or decided to pursue a different opportunity, politely cancel the interview before it begins, with 24 hours' notice if possible. Occasionally emergencies arise or a job interview takes a horribly uncomfortable turn, and you need to end the interview early. A firm and polite departure works best. Apologize for your early exit and thank the interviewer for his time.

Emergencies

Be direct if your early exit is the result of an emergency. Ending an interview early is never an ideal situation, but emergencies happen and it's best to be totally honest with the interviewer in that case. You don't have to give the hiring manager all the details, but you owe her a brief explanation. If you found out your children, spouse or parents were injured or need help, apologize kindly and explain the situation. It's best to turn your cell phone off during a job interview, but in case you forgot or you received the emergency news right before the interview, honesty is the best policy. Transporting your kids to an extracurricular activity, running errands or meeting with a home remodeling contractor aren't emergency situations, so make sure your early dismissal is justified.

Discriminating Questions

If the interviewer asks questions that are discriminatory, tell him you believe the questions are discriminatory in nature and you'd like to move on to another topic. Refusing to acknowlege your request and pressing for responses is a legitimate reason to end the interview early. Questions about your gender, age, marital status, religion or nationality are illegal. Employers can ask questions about your ability to fulfill the job requirements, but they can't ask personal questions that aren't job-related. If you must exit the interview early, state firmly, "I appreciate your time, but I'm no longer interested in this position." You can shake the interviewer's hand if you feel comfortable, and leave the interview room quickly.

Sickness

If you develop a horrible stomach ache, unrelated to nervousness about the interview, or your flu symptoms suddenly worsen and you don't have enough warning to cancel the interview, explain your illness to the hiring manager. You should be able to get through the interview with mild cold symptoms or a sore throat, but a raging fever, horrible migraine headache or upset stomach might make completing the interview impossible. Politely explain how sorry you are for any inconvenience it might have caused, and ask if it's possible to reschedule the interview. If your sickness is severe enough, your flushed face, pale chalky skin and grimacing smile will likely convince the hiring manager that ending the interview early and rescheduling is the best strategy.

Intolerable Interviewer

If you end an interview early because the interviewer is intolerable, inappropriate or abusive, realize that you're probably giving up any shot you have at the job. More than likely, you wouldn't want the job anyway. Indulging a quirky, outspoken or obnoxious interviewer is the best strategy, but tolerating an overly flirtatious, hateful or racist interviewer isn't in your best interest. According to AskAManager.org, in an unbearable interview, you should politely say, "I really appreciate your time, but I’m realizing this isn’t quite the fit that I’m looking for.” You don't have to finish a job interview with a hiring manager who practices unacceptable behavior.

 

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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