The Art of Gracefully Declining a Job Offer

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We all know that today’s job market is hot and it’s a great time to look for that next step in your career. Once you have made the decision to start looking for your next move, chances are you will have many companies interested in you, and that can translate into multiple offers. That is great news, you have successfully navigated the interview process for multiple companies!

Now you must decide which offer to accept, and since you can only accept one position, some of those companies are going to be disappointed. This blog addresses ways in which you can gracefully decline offers without burning bridges.


Timing – as awkward as it is to decline an offer, it’s much worse to drag out the process.  It’s like ripping off a band-aid, you need to do it quickly and cleanly. The longer you take to make the call, the more disappointed they will be. There is also the possibility that the company has a #2 candidate lined up, and that candidate may accept something else while you are procrastinating.


Keep it simple – although a call is always preferable, a call or brief note explaining why you are declining and thanking the interviewers for their time is all that is necessary. Including flowery language about how wonderful the company, staff and opportunity are will only make them wonder why you are going elsewhere.

  • Give a reason – a simple statement such as “this role does not align with my career goals at this time”, or “I am looking for a position with more leadership responsibilities” or simply “although it was a difficult decision, I have decided to go in a different direction” is all you need. If the decision was based purely on compensation, it’s best to just say the position wasn’t the right fit.
  • Show gratitude – make a point of thanking the interviewers (especially the hiring manager), for their time. Make sure they know you are grateful that they took time out of their day to speak or meet with you. Also, be sure to thank the HR or Admin person who coordinated the process.


When the Company Pushes Back- on occasion a hiring manager or HR person may not want to take “no” for an answer. Although awkward, try to see it as a reflection of how well you did in the interview process. In this case, it is best to send an email reiterating your decision and thanking them for their time.


Stay in touch/Build your network – one of the advantages of interviewing is that you get to meet and make connections with other people in your industry. You can add them to your LinkedIn network or connect at industry functions. Just as you are looking for a new role, the people you interview with may also move to new companies. You may even work with or interview with them in the future!

By Patty Kennelly, Partner at DW Simpson

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