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How to Back Out of an Interview with a Company with a Poor Culture

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Data Engineer at Financial Company4 months ago

I've done 4 interviews with a company in the finance space that pays pretty well. I've completed my technical interviews and have advanced to the cultural/behavioural rounds where I'm set to speak with senior business folks, including the COO and the CEO.

Initially, I was excited to be at this stage and resolved to prepare by talking to former employees of the company who could give me insights into the work and culture that I could use to impress my interviewers. However, my conversations with these folks served to turn me off of the company. Everyone said it's a grind culture where people are expected to work 60 hours a week. I've done the math and on a per-hour worked basis, the pay's not actually that great.

Based on the lack of challenge to my interviews so far and my convos, I get the sense the company is desperate to fill the role because the former employees I spoke to had enough of the bad work-life balance and quit.

I'm pretty sure I can get the offer, but I don't see much point anymore. I won't accept it at the salary the recruiter gave and even if I can bump it up 15% I still won't. So I think the best thing to do is to cancel my interviews and save everyone time.

My question is, how do I back out gracefully? I don't think telling the truth ("your culture stinks") is appropriate here. I was thinking of saying that I got another offer, but if they really care, they'll be able to see that my LinkedIn hasn't changed, and maybe that'll leave a bad taste.

Any insights are welcome :)



  • 2
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    4 months ago

    As interview candidates, we're very familiar with interview rejection (often with value/no reason), and it's important to realize that hiring companies also have the same familiarity. You can just say something like: "After careful consideration, I have decided that this wouldn't be a great fit - I appreciate all your time so far."

    That being said, I still think you should pursue this opportunity anyways to get an offer to use as a negotiation bargaining chip. It seems like you're already 70-90% of the way there, so it feels bad to toss away your current time investment.

  • 4
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    4 months ago

    How much more time would you have to sink to get the offer? Even if you don't want the job, you can use it to expedite other processes.

    If you want to back out, my suggestion is to talk more about how you're excited about other roles rather than what you don't like about them. "After some reflection, I'm really excited about a few of the other opportunities I'm considering and I'd like to pause our conversations."

    And remember to be vague! You don't owe them the name, salary, or timeline of any other company you're chatting with.