How to Decline a Job Offer


Why decline a job offer?

You might decline a job offer for various reasons, including an unfavourable salary, benefits or company culture. If you have been applying for multiple positions, you may also have gotten an offer from another organization. If you feel like a position isn’t the right fit for you, it’s appropriate to let the hiring manager know as soon as possible so they can hire another candidate.

If you need to decline a job offer, you can take certain steps to be courteous and professional. It’s helpful to maintain a connection with the employer in the event that you want to work for them in the future.

1. Be timely

One of the most important things to do when declining a job offer is to do so promptly. The employer likely has a backup option should you say no, and allowing them time to reach out to other candidates is beneficial for both parties. If the employer gives you a time frame for when they expect an answer, be sure to decline the job offer well within that window.

Providing an answer on time not only shows how serious you are, but also portrays you as a professional. This can be beneficial if the employer has another open position in the future that you want to apply for.

2. Choose your communication method wisely

How you communicate with the hiring manager is important. When declining a job offer, it’s best to relay the information over the phone, if possible. This way, the hiring manager can hear your sincerity and genuine appreciation that they took time out of their schedule to meet with you. In some cases, you might need to call the HR manager instead of the interviewer. If this is the case, always make sure to send an email to the hiring manager as well, thanking them for their time.

If you are not able to reach the hiring manager over the phone to decline the job offer, leave a voicemail. Once you have done this, follow up with an email, as this will ensure they receive your message promptly on whatever mode of communication they prefer. You can be direct in your voicemail and go into more detail through the email as to why you are not accepting the role.

I have left you a voicemail but wanted to follow up via email to ensure you received my answer on time. I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to interview me. I very much appreciated being shown around the office and meeting members of the team.

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to decline the job offer at this time. It is a difficult decision to make, but as mentioned in my interview, the salary I’m looking for is slightly higher than what you are offering. I hope that you keep me in mind for future positions that are more in line with what I’m looking for.

During the interview, feel free to ask the hiring manager what their preferred communication method is. Sometimes if the person is busy, they will ask you to email instead of call.

3. Provide a reason

You should provide a brief, but honest, reason for declining a job offer. Many companies look for constructive feedback when a candidate declines their job offer, so providing a valid reason for not accepting the offer can help them improve their hiring methods or their business practices.

It also allows the company to counter offer. If it is something simple like the salary is too low, perhaps they will reconsider and offer you more money. They could also offer additional benefits like more vacation time, work from home days or a better benefits package. The following are some examples of ways to decline a job offer politely:

“I have given it much thought, but work-life balance is crucial to me, and I’m looking for a role that will provide me with the amount of time off I need to recharge and be a better employee.”

4. Be appreciative

The hiring process involves several stages, so it can take a long time for an employer to find the right candidate. There are dozens of resumes to read through, social media accounts to research, interviews to conduct and contracts to draft and negotiate.

If you are declining a job offer, be sure to thank the human resources or hiring manager for their time. They likely put in many hours getting to the point of offering you a position, and having you reject the offer means they may have to start part or all of the process again.

“Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me and answer all of the questions I had about the customer service representative role. I learned a lot about your company and how the team functions together, which was incredibly helpful in understanding the full scope of the position.”

“I wanted to thank you again for spending time to meet with me last week for the marketing specialist role. It was fascinating getting to see your office space and meeting some members of the team.”

5. Leave open the possibility of other opportunities

As you progress in your career, you might encounter the same professionals in your field. This is especially true if you work in the same city your whole career. Therefore, you always want to leave the interview on a positive note since you may find yourself interviewing with the same hiring manager again in the future.

Do a Final Gut Check

Before you give your final answer, it’s worth taking a final moment to make absolutely certain that you’re not interested in the job. After all, there’s no going back once you turn down a job offer. The moment an employer hears “no,” they’re probably going to move on and reach out to the next person they had in their pipeline. Even if they haven’t yet, an employer is unlikely to agree to hire you after you’ve just rejected them. Turning them down and then changing your mind comes off as wishy-washy, and suggests you may not stay loyal to the company for long.

If you’re still unsure after considering these questions, try making a list of all of the different criteria that are important to you in a job search — such as salary, benefits, professional development opportunities, company culture, distance from home, etc. — and assess how well the job offer satisfies those requirements. Then, stack the different categories in order of importance, making sure to note if there are any non-negotiables. Hopefully, this exercise provides you with a more objective, data-driven look at whether or not the position is truly the right fit for you.

Finally, when you’re really feeling lost, it can help to talk things through with somebody you trust: a friend, a parent, a counselor, etc. Sometimes, all you need to clear your head and arrive at the best decision for you is to hear yourself out loud.

Tips for Sharing the News

Once you’ve decided for certain that you’re no longer interested in a job opportunity, it’s time to let the company you’ve been interviewing with know. Here are a few tips you can use to keep it as respectful as possible:

Act Quickly : Often, a company will give you a certain amount of time to consider a job offer. But if you’ve made up your mind before the due date, let them know ASAP — this softens the blow by allowing them to get back to filling the job as quickly as possible.

Consider the Medium : Most people choose to turn down a job offer over email, which in most cases is perfectly fine. But if you really want to go the extra mile, try calling them. While it’s not for everybody, a phone call offers a more personal touch. It can also help you avoid the unfortunate miscommunications that sometimes arise from written messages.

Respond Graciously : The candidate selection process requires a considerable amount of time and resources from companies, so you shouldn’t disrespect their investment by coming off as ungrateful or insensitive. Show that you care by thanking them for their time, and mentioning one or two of the things that you really admired about the company.

Give a Reason : You may be hesitant to explain why you’re turning the job down, but doing so will keep the company from wondering what went wrong, and may even help them improve their hiring process moving forward. Be careful with what exactly you share, though. Something too blunt like “The hiring manager was a jerk” won’t go over well, but saying “I really connected with the team at the other company I was interviewing with” is perfectly acceptable.

Leave It Open-Ended : It might be that you’re still interested in the company, and that it’s just the timing or the specific position that isn’t right. If that’s the case, consider letting them know that you’d love to keep in touch in order to stay up-to-date on future opportunities.


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