Not Interested in a Job Opportunity? Rip Off The BandAid And Break Up!

When you are in the interview process for a position, whether it’s directly with the company you’ve applied to or through a recruiter, it is analogous to being in a relationship. There are different stages, and with each stage you become more invested and the relationship gets deeper. As the relationship gets deeper it may become harder and harder to break it off. But the fact of the matter is, if you are not interested just tell us! We will understand and will be grateful that we can move on to someone else.

Below I’ve broken down the interview process into four stages, and reiterate how in each case it’s always better to say something and stop the process than to let it go on if you’re not truly interested.

  • The Courting: We saw your resume or profile online and we want you. We think you would be a great fit for the job and will do anything in our power to get in touch with you and get you interested.
    • Not Interested? – Don’t like the job description? Not looking? Just let us know, we will stop bothering you, I promise.
  • The Honeymoon Period: You responded! We are elated and set up a conversation with you. We can’t wait — we want to tell you all about the position and we hope you think it’s a great fit like we do. So we chat on the phone and tell you all about the company and the role. We ask about your experience and it’s a match — we couldn’t be happier!
    • Don’t like what you hear? Maybe it’s an individual contributor role and you were hoping for management, or maybe the salary is slightly lower than you were hoping for. Say something! Don’t let the interview process go any further — you will be wasting everyone’s time and resources, including yours.
  • Mature Relationship: Things are going well. You are on site interviewing and we think you may be the one. We are thinking about proposing soon…
    • Love someone else? Do you want to stay at your current company? Is there another position that seems more enticing that you think you would be happier in? Again, say something to us. It will hurt and we may be upset, but we can move on and offer the position to someone else who would be happy with us. Don’t let us take the plunge if you don’t think you will say yes.
  • Engagement: We have decided you are the one. We get down on one knee and offer you the position. And your response is…
    • Is it no? Have you had a change of heart? Did you get a better offer? Fine, but say something! Do not go dark – you owe it to the people who spent time and money wooing you to tell them you are not taking the offer and explain why. It is the professional thing to do, and honestly, it should only get this far in extenuating circumstances.

The moral of the story: It is ok to break up with a company or a recruiter. Just do it the honest (professional) way, and do it as soon as you know it’s not going to work out. Don’t string us along with false hope and break our hearts down the line. The worst thing you can do is disappear. It may be easier for you, but it’s disrespectful and unprofessional. You will ruin your chances of ever working for that company or any other company we recruit for in the future. Saving yourself one awkward conversation is not worth burning those bridges.


Editor’s Note: To get more great tips on improving your recruiting and interviewing process, sign up for the OpenView newsletter.


Meghan Maher
Meghan Maher
Senior Talent Manager, Engineering

Meghan Maher is Senior Talent Manager, Engineering, actively recruiting top talent for OpenView and its Portfolio Companies. Her tech background has helped OpenView hire for nearly 20 IT and engineering positions. Meghan began her career at AVID Technical Resources, where she was a Technical Recruiter for two years.
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