Declining a Job Offer

Declining a job offer is a tough thing, especially when you need a job and money NOW.

However, sometimes, it is the rideclining a job offerght thing to do and not necessarily easy, since you don’t want to burn any bridges.

You never know where the people of the company may land in future jobs.  Or, you might want to apply to the company in the future following any staff or organizational changes.

But it is a healthy attitude to realize that sometimes, a sure thing isn’t the best decision… on a lot of levels.


Factors that provide a reason for declining a job offer include:

  • The salary they offered is too low
  • Benefits are not what you need
  • Intuition
  • What you learned in the interview turned you off
  • You have another offer
  • Your current employer counter-offered
  • Commute times
  • Inflexible work environment
  • Office culture
  • Company’s reputation
  • Job wasn’t what you thought

There are a lot of reasons for declining a job offer, but how do you walk away with integrity?


For some job seekers, they realize in the middle of the job interview that the position is not a match and noware in a position for declining a job offer.

Or perhaps they picked up on something in terms of the organizational dynamic / personalities that didn’t sit right.

First of all, if this is happening, the most important thing you can do is stick it out. 

Additionally, don’t show your cards. It is tough to hide any distaste or dislike, but you need to keep your own counsel until the interview is over.

EVERY interview is a good interview because it is practice for the one that will get you the job that you want. So relax, and go through the motions of completing the interview.

Then, once you are done and in your own space, you can decide on your plan of action.

When you have officially to move forward with declining a job offer, there are several things you need to do.

  • Thank them. Declining a job offer means you are in the power position. For this reason, you want them to know that you appreciate their time and attention, so being generous and gracious are the classy things to do.
  • Tell the truth without getting into the details. When declining a job offer, you need to keep it vague. Getting into granular, nit-picking details only pulls you in deeper. Saying things like, “After a great deal of consideration, I have decided that this position is not the right fit for my career goals,” or “It appears that the compensation levels are falling short of my needs and expectations, so I am declining the job offer” are classy ways to say it without diving into great details. If they press you for more information, stand by your original statement by saying, “Beyond what I have just shared, I don’t feel comfortable discussing the details. Thank you for your attention and I hope you find the right-fit candidate for this role.”
  • Don’t give in to the urge to tell them to shove it. I have been in a situation where the whole interview was going sideways and what they were asking was ridiculous. Just nod your head to show engagement, and endure the interview through the end.
  • Leave the door open for future possibilities. Remember, people leave jobs and organizations change, but stuff that goes into the HR file lives on forever.
  • Put it in writing. Declining a job offer can take place with an email versus a phone call, and avoids any awkward questions while providing a clear answer.
  • Be prepared for a counter-offer. When candidates end up declining a job offer, companies are so desperate to hire that they often think this is a game and you are asking for a counter offer. Be prepared for this, and be firm. Saying, “Thank you for your additional offer, but I have already moved on to other options and while I appreciated interviewing for this position, my mind is made up.”

Keep these things in mind when you are declining a job offer so you walk away with your career goal and professional integrity intact!