How to Gracefully Turn Down a Job Offer


Lucky you.

Woman in pink blazer using mobile phone

So the company you’ve been courting with a series of carefully tailored applications and lengthy ‘pick me, pick me!’ interviews has finally chosen you above a bevvy of other candidates, offering you a coveted spot at their HQ – except now, you don’t want the gig. How do you wrangle out of this potentially uncomfortable situation with minimal awkwardness, your reputation intact, and even – if you manage to nail the ‘thanks, but no thanks’ conversation – a valuable new connection in place?

Don’t dawdle

The gracious thing to do is pick up the phone without delay, so that the hiring team can contact other applicants quicksmart.

Express gratitude

The company has likely invested significant time in assessing your CV, background and interview performance, so it pays to say thanks. Graciously and enthusiastically express your appreciation for the fact that they chose you. And be sure to communicate that you genuinely did have an interest in working for the company – if possible, give specific examples of aspects you liked, such as the hiring team, culture or offices.

Give an honest reason

Give the person who offered you the role a brief explanation for your decision. This could be the fact you have accepted another position, decided against a career pivot, or no longer feel it’s the right time to leave your job. And remember: don’t give a fiscal reason if you just don’t want to work there, as this could get a little awkward if they come back to you with a counter-offer.

Stick to your guns

You made this decision for a reason – so heed what your gut is telling you and don’t get sucked into negotiations if you know deep down this isn’t the gig for you.

Keep the door slightly ajar

As well as just plain decency, it’s critical to play nice when turning down a role, for a big reason: your future self may thank you. As well as the obvious (avoid being too callous as word of mouth spreads), if you manage the ‘rejection’ process with aplomb, you can actually come out of the whole situation with a promising new relationship. Nurture your connection with this new contact – as you just never know when you’ll cross paths again, whether at this organisation or another.

Read More: The Cognitive Rewards Of Scaring Yourself At Work


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