How To Fail At Declining An Offer– Avoid These Common Mistakes

Posted on September 21, 2020 by .

There are many paths to declining an offer graciously and professionally. There are also many ways to decline an offer the wrong way, and suffer potential repercussions on your own job search and reputation as a candidate.

That’s why we spoke with our recruiting team to get the best advice on declining an offer. Understanding the nuances of communicating something difficult, like rejecting an offer, is a professional skill in itself. Let’s get into how to avoid stumbling when approaching this topic.

Feeling The Pressure

Nowadays, companies hiring tech professional have to jump through hoops to create engaging, exciting, and inviting interviews and offers. It goes without saying that a comprehensive benefits package and an attractive monetary offer have a lot to do with whether or not a candidate accepts a position, but what happens if you have more than one offer? Or alternatively, what if you need to decline an offer for other reasons?

First of all, avoid taking on extra guilt when making your decision. Naturally, making decisions when it comes to job offers is challenging, but ultimately, we encourage our candidates to decide what is best for them. If you want to learn more about tough decision making, take a look at our tips here.

If you have made a decision and now face letting down a company that made you an offer, we recommend avoiding the following missteps.

5 Ways To Fail At Declining An Offer

  1. Hold back your thoughts.
    • The most common misstep we watch candidates go through is holding back on what they are thinking. Often times this is where you should lean on your recruiter the most. If you internalize issues you may have with an offer, and assume they cannot be fixed, you could be leaving something on the table that is more flexible than it appears. Be very transparent with your thought process. Exploring your options includes asking any question you may have about an offer, from salary to work flexibility options. Even if the offer is the wrong fit, expressing something you value could help an organization fix a shortfall that they have.
  2. Avoid the conversation entirely, a.k.a. ghosting.
    • It goes without saying that no one likes to be ghosted. While tempting to assume that silence indicates your rejection of an offer, this response, or lack thereof, is short-sighted. Addressing that an offer was made, and politely declining, indicates that you want the relationship to end on good terms or even continue in the future. Acknowledging the offer, and thanking the individual or team for the opportunity, is the most professional approach. Also, doing so in a timely manner allows the company to make an offer to someone else who will be thrilled.
  3. Beat around the bush.
    • Even over email it is easy to sense wavering answers or disingenuous communication. So just be honest! Letting a company know why you are declining an offer leaves no question as to what went wrong, and can help them improve their process down the line. For example, state your concerns about differences on salary. It is ok to say you are looking for a certain level to consider leaving your current role. Or, expressing something you liked about an interview process and adding that you simply connected with another team more is also a reasonable explanation. Still not sure how to say it? Check out these templates for declining an offer here.
  4. Rely solely on email communication.
    • We get it, the speed and convenience of sending someone a quick note via text or email changed the entirety of humanity’s interactions, but does that mean it’s always right? With something as important and personal as a job offer, the folks on the other end of the line are also eager to hear back from you. Sometimes an email just doesn’t cut it.
    • When asked about calling to decline an offer versus emailing, one of our recruiters noted, “I think [emailing] does the candidate a disservice from a relationship standpoint, in terms of how they’re leaving the relationship…If you have a phone call, it’s a concrete conclusion to the process, and gives you peace of mind moving forward. After a five-minute call, the loop is closed and you can move on.”
  5. Relinquish your negotiating power.
    • As mentioned above, it is important to leave no stone unturned when declining an offer. Another insider tip is if you are faced with two offers, avoid taking a competing offer before consulting with your recruiter first. Chances are, both offers can be made more competitive, which only benefits the candidate. If you let either the hiring manager or recruiter know why you are leaning the other way, it will always work in your favor to expand your options. Know that this is key to being transparent, and allows a company the opportunity to make their offer more beneficial to you. Take a look at other offer negotiation tips here.

More Tips For Declining An Offer

  • Remember: If there is an aspect of the offer that push you towards declining, there are potential solutions to be negotiated. Be aware of writing off an offer without asking your recruiter or hiring manager about adjustments. We’ve seen time and time again that minor changes can be the difference between an acceptance or rejection.
  • Avoid bad-mouthing companies or the interview process. From personal attacks to disagreeing with a company’s coding test, you never know what opportunities could present down the road. On this vein, it’s best to keep relationships civil and courteous.
  • Being overly eager can create problems later. Let us be clear, by no means are we saying to tone down excitement and showing your personality in the interview process, but avoid saying you will immediately take an offer if that is not your intention. Say an offer is made to a candidate who expressed they would instantly accept, and then that candidate suddenly has other offers or final interviews they want to see through. Talk about disappointing. Too circumvent this issue, be honest with your intentions. Let your recruiter know if you need more time to make a decision, or are still considering other positions.

Despite the potential discomfort of declining an offer, the conversation stems from a good place. Recognize the accomplishment of getting that offer, and take in the full spectrum before making your decision. Make sure you thank those involved in your interview process for their time and energy, and have confidence in the path you have chosen.


Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.

If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!

 

Meet @BWBacon, @Emergenetics_ and @NationalValuat1, the 2020 top company winner and finalists in professional services. From helping to build software for clients to providing insights into the ways that people prefer to think and behave, get to know them. http://ow.ly/oL1Y50BAMHs