There are many reasons people decline job offers, even if that job looked attractive during the application process. An interview fills in a lot of gaps such as: the company’s culture, leadership’s expectations, full compensation and other factors not disclosed on the job posting. For some candidates, those details diminish a once-attractive opportunity.
If you complete an interview and realize the job is not right for you, it is perfectly OK to politely decline the job offer. Your career is yours. If an opportunity doesn’t seem right, it's okay to to turn down the offer. Read on for some helpful tips on how to do just that.
How to decline a job offer
The more quickly you let the hiring manager know you aren’t interested in the job, the easier it is for all involved. Take time to evaluate the offer until you're comfortable with your decision. Once you inform the company, their recruiting team can get back to searching and fill the role quicker when given a prompt reply. When you know your answer and are ready to reply, keep the following in mind.
Keep the same professional tone you had when applying for the job. Avoid using slang or a casual tone (starting off the email with ‘Hey,’ for example) and be mindful of spelling and punctuation. It's important to leave a good impression with every professional interaction, even the ones that don’t work out.
Hiring is a lot of work. By declining the job, the company's hiring team has more work in front of them. If there wasn’t a second candidate in mind, the process could start over. Knowing that, it’s important that you acknowledge their time during the process and show gratitude they chose to spend their time on you. Recognizing their efforts will make your contacts feel seen and appreciated.
Be clear and upfront
Don’t be vague when declining a job offer. Keep your communication clear so there is no mistaking your answer.
Keep your email brief and to the point
You don’t need to give a long explanation to why you’re declining a job offer. Hiring managers are only concerned if the answer is yes or no, not the reasoning behind the answer. It is enough to say “I don’t feel like this is a good fit.”
Example emails to decline a job offer
How you decline a job offer depends on a few things. If the job and company were turn offs, a brief-but-professional email is sufficient. Bridges aren’t burned, however, that chapter is closed.
If a company or hiring manager made a positive impact on you during the interview, your response will be different. Your email should leave the door open to future communication and networking.
Below are a few email examples for these scenarios.
Scenario 1: You aren’t interested in the job or company
If you get through the interview and realize you aren’t interested in either the job or the company, your response can be brief. Communicate your point clearly, while keeping professionalism and gratitude a core theme.
Thank you for the offer and time spent getting to know my skills and experience. I know the interview process is hard work on your part and I truly appreciate the effort.
After much consideration, I must decline your generous offer. I humbly recognize it is not the right fit for me and understand that it's crucial to hire people who are a great match for the position.
Thank you again for the opportunity and all the best in filling this position.
Scenario 2: You aren’t interested in the job, but are interested in the company
It’s OK to say you’re not the right person for the job, even if the company impressed you during the interview process. If you want to pass on the job but still try to work for the company, your email will be slightly longer and more personal.
Thank you for the offer and time spent getting to know my skills and experience.
Sadly, after much consideration, I must decline your generous offer. While I admire what the company is doing and love the mission, I recognize this particular role isn't the best match for me at this time.
Please know I am grateful for your time during the interview process and thoroughly enjoyed our conversations. I appreciate the time you took to get to know me, my skills and experience.
I hold you and the company in high regard and enjoyed learning about its growth, community involvement and innovative work. I'd appreciate it if you'd keep me in mind for any future opportunities that align with my skill set.
I plan on following the company’s updates on LinkedIn and rooting for you all from afar. May I add you as a connection on there?
Scenario 3: You aren’t interested in the job or company, but could learn from your new connection
Sometimes, you just click with another person. If you enjoyed your time with the hiring manager during the interview and want to stay in touch, let them know.
Thank you for the offer and time spent getting to know my skills and experience. I really enjoyed discussing our shared love for cats.
After much consideration, I must decline this generous offer. Please know I gave the decision serious thought and I am grateful for your time during the application and interview process. I recognize your time is valuable and appreciate the time you took to get to know me.
Thank you again for the opportunity, and I hope we can stay connected. May I add you on LinkedIn?
How to keep communication open
Declining a job offer doesn’t equate to burning a bridge. Many hiring managers appreciate when candidates recognize the opportunity is not right for them. A bad fit costs a company time, money and resources. By declining the offer, you're actually preventing those costs for the employer.
In fact, keeping communication open could lead to another opportunity. It’s entirely possible that a brief interaction could lead to a future opportunity. If you made a good impression on a hiring manager, there’s a chance they will keep you in mind for something else. Someone from another company could ask if they know of any good candidates, the hiring manager could move to a different company, or there could be a job opening that’s a better fit at their current company.
If you’re politely declining a job offer and want to keep communication open, there are a few ways to make your email more personal and memorable.
Compliment the company’s work
Everyone loves a compliment. Bring up a quality you liked about the company or the hiring manager’s work. Many people feel connected to their work, so share what you admire most about it.
Refer back to a conversation point
Bring up something from your interview that you enjoyed. If there was a topic you connected on, reiterate how much you appreciated the conversation. This will help build a stronger personal connection.
Ask to connect on LinkedIn
If you had a good rapport during the hiring process, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask the hiring manager to connect on LinkedIn.
Keep track of your potential jobs
Do you know how many jobs you’ve applied to recently? If not, you’ll benefit from Teal’s Job Application Tracker. The free tool is simple to use and keeps your jobs organized.
Job hunting carries its own stress and seekers can apply to multiple jobs a day, losing track of what companies have responded, which job postings have closed and more. Teal’s Job Application Tracker helps you organize this information and can automatically bookmark jobs you’re interested in. The tool is a simple Chrome extension that’s accessible at any time.