How Do I Turn Down A Job Offer?

How Do I Turn Down A Job Offer?

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John: Hey, this is John Sonmez from
I’ve got a question here that is fairly anonymous so I’m not even going to say a first
name here just to be on the safe side, but this is a really good question so hopefully
I can give you a good answer here Mr.—we’ll call you Mr. Joe.
Mr. Joe says, “Hi John” by the way if you’re anonymous you suddenly get a “Mr.”
title in front of your name. Mr. Joe says, “Hi John, if you decide to share this question
I’d like to remain anonymous.” Check. “I’m currently searching for new career
opportunities and recently had a phone interview for a position that sounds great as far as
what the work would be (the technical aspects). “The interview was conducted by the technical
lead of the team. Near the end of the interview I asked several questions including what is
your favorite part of working here. Is this a new position or if I’m replacing someone
that happened—and what happened to them.” as he said. “How long have most of the team
members been with the company? “After the interview I sent a polite email
to the interviewer thanking him for his time reiterating how my skills line up with the
needs of the team and expressing that if he sees me as a good candidate for the position
I would be happy to have a follow up conversation. However, as the day progressed and I reflected
on the conversation I realized that the interviewer’s answers to my questions had set off a few
red flags that I didn’t recognize right away. I started to realize that the company
might not be a good fit for me or to paraphrase Scott Hanselman, I probably wouldn’t hire
them to be my boss. “My question for you is if they follow up
and want an additional interview or want to make an offer what is the polite and professional
way to say thanks, but not thanks in this type of situation? Should I go through the
motions and hope to be pleasantly surprised or should I just rip off the band-aid quick
and clean? I don’t want to come across as trying to negotiate a better offer. I’m
just skeptical that it’s the right place for me. One note that might make my situation
different than other readers is that I’m currently employed and have a stable career
which makes walking away from some opportunities much easier.”
So Mr. Joe, I almost slipped your real name there. Then we’d have to edit that out.
This is a situation that—I think I’ve got a fairly easy answer for you here. You
don’t want to burn bridges but you can really get out of this situation easily without burning
bridges. I mean the only way you’re really going to burn a bridge here is if you tell
them to F off and if you bring up anything about the reasons why that you don’t want
this job. I mean there’s a million reasons you can
come up with as to why you will decline your offer which I would highly recommend that
you decline this offer if you’re already getting these bad signals. Don’t worry about
it. The thing is though—I’ll give you some advice on what not to do because that’s
easier. There’s actually a smaller amount of what not to do.
Do not address anything about those questions that you asked at the end of the interview
and why that made you feel like this might not be the place for you. Do not say anything
about you not feeling like this might not be the place for you. First of all that’s
none of their business and second of all that is the only thing that you could do in this
situation that could hurt you because that could burn a bridge, that could have someone
talking to someone else and then you get blackballed or something bad happening to you. That’s
the only thing that you could really screw up in this situation.
What I would say here is just politely decline. Just say—if they send you an offer and they
say, “Hey, we want to offer you this position.” Just say, “Thanks for your offer. It’s
a very generous offer. It seems like you have a great company and great team there but I
have to decline.” That’s all you have to say. That’s the beauty of this, right?
You don’t owe them anything. You don’t owe them any other explanation.
In fact, if you applied for a company and they wanted to reject you they wouldn’t
say, “Oh, you did such a good job on the interview but there was this one little question
that we didn’t feel like you were quite right.” They wouldn’t try to explain themselves.
They would just say, “We have decided to go with another candidate.” You could either
say, “I decided to go with another opportunity.” That’s a fine answer. You don’t owe them
any explanation. If they come back and they say, “Well, why?
What can we do? If we offered you more money?” Just again politely just say, “No thanks.
I’ve decided to go with another opportunity” or “No, thanks. There’s not any real issue
as to why. I just decided that this is a better path for me” or whatever it is. Just politely
decline and do not give them details. If you give them details that’s the only time that
you’re going to be in trouble in this situation and even then I mean the chances of it hurting
you later is very small. Here’s the thing, this is where you’re
at right now I would assume is that you’re afraid of letting them down, of being a jerk
or whatever it is. This is business. This is business. I’ve had to fire people before.
If you’re running a business you wouldn’t keep someone on because you feel bad letting
them go because you’re afraid that they’re not going to like you or that you’re going
to hurt their feelings, right? Same thing here is don’t let those emotions that you
might be feeling about this job or letting them down or their environment, don’t let
that affect you and cloud your judgment. You’ve just got to be business with them and keep
it business. Don’t explain yourself. Just say no, that’s it and look for a better
opportunity. Hopefully this helps you. Let me know how
it works out. Send me an email to follow up. I’m curious to see what happened. I’m
guessing by the time that you’ve—that I’ve gotten around to answering your email
by a video that you’ve already figured this out. I sent you a short answer hopefully.
Let me know how it works out and if you’ve got some other advice, leave a comment below.
I’d be curious to hear what anyone else out there thinks about this situation or if
you’ve in been in a similar situation and what you did and what the result was.
Anyway, that’s it for this video. If you’d like to see more of these videos and get more
career and life advice just like this video subscribe to the channel. It’s easy. it’s
just one click and then you get all the videos. All right, take care. See you next time.


  1. Hi! I've been in a similar situation a few days ago, and I've declined also by telling them that I committed myself for some challenges that I would like to pass before considering another opportunity, and I think they accepted it well.

  2. Hi John. How are you. I got a call from a  staffing agency offering me a job as a warehouse material its was a phone interview and everything went well, I asked him what is the rate p/h he gave me # then I sent a email saying that I got a better offer from a previous job, he reply with better # and I ask for more, he said that's the maximum than I said ok. He told me to came to the office and fill the paper work and w2s and staff, while I was there he ask me who was the company that make me a better offer and said the name and the city by the way I did work the in the pass, So he said ok go for the screen test and I have star next day I did that. two days later he call me saying you the green light to star tomorrow but don't go yet let me send a email to the company to make sure, so I wait the whole day for his call, No Call. I call him back and he said hey don't go yet tomorrow, I haven't got no replay from the company, don't call me I call you. Ok I said. A week has past and he has no call yet.

    Your opinion please John!

    Thank you.

  3. It's true! I had a similar situation where I was even ask privately to apply. However the way they did it was tricky and they interviewed several others knowing I was already selected. So I decided to withdraw because that's not fair.

  4. what to do if you have accepted the first job offer then another job offer comes up and you wanted to take the second one? both are equally good but the second one is more comfortable for me then the 1st offer. Is it ethical to go for second after accepting the first?

  5. Hi John. Thanks a lot. I have a slightly different issue in which, after phone and face2face interviews, they called me and offered the job. I think it is a company in the finance industry. The people who interviewed were easy to talk to and polite. So I casually accepted on the phone but have not yet been sent an offer to sign. However, I have a better offer in terms of location and salary. So how would you turn them down? Thanks a lot.
    Further info on the jobs is: The one I wanna reject is permanent. My preferred one is a contract, more pay, but you can easily get fired. So I wanna push the start date of the permanent role to four months later, so I can accept the contract and make big money and if the sack me I will have a back-up. But since accepting a job by signing is binding, you cannot accept both. So I wanna tell them to keep it open without me signing till I solve some of my logistics issues… which is sort of true.

  6. When I tried for a Taco Bell summer job in 1990, one of them on the phone called me they have a deep fryer job for me. The problem is not only I am special needs, but also I am not capable using deep fryers because I found this very unsafe for me. The reason is hot oil in the deep fryer might splatter my face, hands, arms and upper body part. I am very upset with them because I felt they put my life in jeopardy. All I want was the cleaning job instead.

  7. Why is it that you can't give the employer honest feedback about what you really liked about their organization and what you didn't like and use the sandwich method? Usually people are receptive to this. If I were a hiring manager I would want to know why my employment offer wasn't compelling so I could take that information and refine my hiring strategy to grow my business. Are MBA's really that emotionally touchy? Sheesh. That's unprofessional and immature.

    If you use the "it's not you, it's me" approach. The employer never gets any feedback to make any improvements. If a company is trying to sell you a product and the customers don't like it, don't you want to know why so you can incorporate that feedback back into the product so you can make money? Isn't one of the keys to success in business to fail repeatedly until you learn enough to succeed? How can you do that if you get butt hurt by negative feedback?

    The only reason I break this up is that, especially in the United States, there are some really dirty management tricks being used. A lot of the reason they persist is because people never call them on it. The assumption is if no one objects then silence is agreement. As a result, it damages the whole developer ecosystem. Right now, it's pretty bad. We need systemic positive change.

  8. Ive turned down a job after an interview that went so well i was invited back for a second interview but during that first interview i learned the job was selling insurance which is not what i was looking for. So after i got home from that interview i emailed the interviewer and said thanks so much for taking the time to meet with me but the position is not what im looking for.
    It dosent have to be a big deal they will find other people who are propbably better suited. I look at like this: on a job your expected to perform to a certain standard and if you are not interested in the job those standards will not be met which really is a giant waste of time for the hiring team, the person who will supervise you, yourself, and the clients you will be affected by bad perfomance.

  9. Was offered a position within my former company that I would've increased my salary but turned it down. The hiring manager for that role called me "disrespectful" because I thought about it for a week and came back said no to the offer and that I was accepting a position with another company. It made my decision more refreshing after I politely declined the offer and was yelled at for not accepting the position. I know I didn't do nothing wrong but I'm so curious to know why the manager would be mad simply because i said NO to his offer. Any feedback would be helpful.

  10. I'm in a situation where I would have to move around 4-6 hours away and I'd get payed around 100k a year or more but, somehow, I want to decline… I've never made even half that amount but idk if it's fear of not being able to work inn that kind of field to well. Or more like, I don't want to pursue that as my actual career..

  11. Had to do this today and um…I brought up the main reason, lol..but the interviewer was the one who brought up the main concern on her part of low pay for my services in the first place right in the beginning of the interview. My background and experience was above the pay grade they were paying and even though I tried too feel out room for negotiations the interviewer made it clear it was a hard line that could not be moved and she stated it was out of her hands…so I did the interview, went home and got a call back with a offer. This situation was weird because the hours are kind of what I'm looking for but not really (I'm working on my own independent businesses as well asmaintaining a job with am employer as well at this time…but like I said the pay is too low for what the job is and for me I had to decline, BUT…lol…there was another job O saw posted with the same place that may pay more and is also right up my alley as far as skill set goes and all that so I notified the manager who interviewed me of my interest in knowing more about that post and she said she'd hand my resume on to the nursing department for review there instead. I thanked her and let her know how appreciated the offer was all the same. I don't plan on hearing from the other supervisor, but figured it was worth a shot. If the other interviewer liked me so much (as she said she did…she commented on my resume being stared for preference prior to interviewing) then maybe she would think even though I can't accept her post I could do well with the other within the organization…we'll see, but I agree feelings have nothing to do with this and 100% interviews go both ways. I've learned all kinds of red flags on both sides of the table (as I've managed before as well) and I have no issue saying no when it's not right or a good fit for one reason or another.

  12. just respond like they do when they reject candidate'

    'dear ___"

    Thank you for taking the time to speak to me about the position and letting me get to know about your company more. At this time I have decided to move forward with another company."


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