The Right Way to Decline a Job Offer

The boss grated on your nerves.

The job would be a dead end for you.

The pay was insulting.

Whatever your reasons for rejecting a job offer, there are right and wrong ways to go about the process. Sure, it may temporarily boost your ego to spurn an employer that’s offered you a job (especially if you’ve been on the hunt for awhile). And yes, it can be tempting to ghost an employer rather than endure the awkwardness of telling them: “Thanks, but no thanks.”

But at the end of the day, it’s much smarter (not to mention more positive) to decline the job offer in a professional manner. Here’s how to do it:

Share your decision as soon as you make it.

This employer has a role to fill. If you know you’re not the right person for it, tell them immediately so they can move onto their second-choice candidate.

Thank the interviewer for the opportunity.

Show your appreciation with a heartfelt, thank-you for their time, including specifics about what you appreciated most.

Accentuate the positive.

Mention a few things you liked about the opportunity, company, culture and/or hiring manager. Highlighting the positives lets the recruiting team know that you took the opportunity seriously, and that their time was not wasted.

Honestly, but tactfully, share your reasons.

Now is not the time to vent or stroke your own ego. It is appropriate (and important to the employer), however, for you to explain the technical and logistical reasons you decided not to accept the job:

Wrong: “The salary was insulting.” Right: “I received a similar offer with a better pay and benefits package.”

Wrong: “I could immediately tell that boss would be a nightmare.” Right: “I don’t think my personality is an ideal fit for this department.”

Be as direct as you can without being too critical; your candid feedback may help the employer make positive changes.

Leave bridges intact.

If you liked the organization, but the position itself wasn’t right for you, leave the door open. Include a statement like: “I hope there may be another opportunity for us to work together in the future.”

Use the correct delivery method.

The way you communicate your message says a lot about you as a person and a professional. If you spent significant time interviewing and weighing your decision, decline the offer over a phone call with the hiring manager. If the recruiting and decision-making process was less involved, a carefully composed email (i.e., one that addresses the interviewer correctly, uses proper grammar and closes professionally) is appropriate. Voicemails and texts are absolute no-nos.


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