How to Decline a Job Offer

We know there are worst situations to be in, yet it can seem like a difficult and awkward situation turning down a job offer, when up until that moment you have been the epitome of interested.

The truth is, in an interview, we will express an extremely keen interest, because we genuinely want the offer. However, often when it comes to the crunch, certain aspects of the process or job become transparent or we are faced with multiple job offers, and then a difficult decision must be made.

There are two key things to include in a job declination letter, which are appreciation and a brief, respectful explanation, yet with a multitude of possible reasons for not wanting to take the job, we detail three key reasons for turning down an offer, and how to handle them correctly:

The money

Sometimes a job and a company seem attractive, but they are not the only things we need to worry about. If the salary is too low for you to live comfortably, and you feel the issue has already been broached but not solved, you can address this as your reason in your letter.

You can simply express that you are grateful for the opportunity and were excited about the prospect of working there, yet you will have to decline due to the level of salary.

Letting the company know your reasons here will serve to bring this to their attention, and in the future they might revise the offer to become in line with market competition in order to get the best candidate.

Do not be tempted to use this letter as a negotiation tactic unless there is a real possibility that you will change your mind if a better offer is proposed. Dragging out declining a job offer will be even more painful for both sides.

The work

If you are turning down the role because, even though it would be a great company to work for, the role itself was not what you hoped for, then you need to politely outline the elements of the job that were missing for you.

Mention the skill sets you are hoping to develop on, what level of responsibility you aspire towards, and explain that this role does not fit your career goals at this time.

A good sentence would be along the lines of, “The opportunity seems excellent, however I have decided to embark on a different route and have chosen a role that offers more opportunity to pursue A, B and C.”

Let the hiring manager know what you liked about the company, mentioning specific positives, and leave the door open for future opportunities, as you never know what different positions may become available.

The company

The scenario is likely that when you applied for the job, you didn’t know everything about the company that you know now, and sitting with a job offer, your gut is telling you that this is not the company you want to work for.

Perhaps you learned something about the company’s financial state, and feel it has an uncertain future, or since going through the interview process you simply realised that the organisation isn’t a cultural fit due to management issues or other.

It is not unreasonable to turn down the job on these premises, yet it is wise to not go into too much detail about your reasoning. There is no need to be negative, and simply need to state that the job is not a great fit at this point in your career.

General tips

  • Make sure there are no grammatical errors, even though it might well be the last time you communicate, it needs to be a professional document.
  • Do not spend too long deliberating. Send your response in a timely manner, and allow them the time to select another candidate before they miss other chances.
  • If you really find the decision and letter hard to write, chances are you had a close connection with the company and hiring manager, and in this case, a courtesy phone call alongside your letter will demonstrate your sincerity.


For a confidential chat with one of our friendly consultants at Integra People, please call 01925 838 600 today.

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