How To Decline A Job Offer

While accepting an offer will be a great feeling, declining an offer can be a bit less fun. However, declining an offer is an excellent opportunity to build your personal brand and maintain relationships with the people in the organization.

There are two different ways that you will want to handle declining an offer:

  1. When the job, organization, industry, culture, or other aspect is simply not a good fit for you.
  2. When you have decided to take a competing offer that simply beat out the one you have chosen to decline.

In either case, you always want to maintain the relationship, so giving them the courtesy of formally declining the offer is extremely important.

You should decline the offer as soon as you have accepted another offer or made a definitive decision not to accept. While the conversation may be a bit uncomfortable, it's inconsiderate and poor business etiquette to delay after making the decision. When you're ready to formally decline, call or email your main point of contact and inform them of your decision. So what do you say? Here’s an example:

“Hi, [name], this is [your name] calling in response to the job offer. I very much appreciate the opportunity to work for your organization, however, I am calling to let you know that I have decided not to accept the offer because [and then insert your reason for declining].”

You will know the reason better than anyone, so be sure to be honest but professional. That means you should not say “I did not think the offer was any good.” OR “I’m not excited about your organization.” Your reason will be personal and unique, but here is an example:

“I have decided to accept a competing offer that I feel best fits my current professional and personal goals.”


“I do not believe that I am a good cultural fit for the organization.”

Now you’re fully prepared to accept and decline job offers in a way that is professional, builds your brand, and maintains the relationship in a positive way. Your job, no matter how little desire you have to accept an offer, is to make the company or employer feel that their time was well spent in considering you for the position.