14 Tips To Respectfully Decline A Job Offer

Christina J Colclough

By Christina Colclough

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In a recent survey conducted at UNI Global Union, my team uncovered a startling trend: many entry-level job seekers completely ignore a job offer when they stumble upon a better opportunity!

Decline A Job Offer

Of course, it’s perfectly fine not to accept that offer, but ghosting the hiring manager isn’t the way to go here. The economy is constantly changing, and you might need that connection with the company someday. 

So, let’s cut to the chase and discuss how to gracefully decline a job offer while keeping your options open.

14 Tips To Turn Down A Job Offer

When you get the job offer, it’s best to reply as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours. Keep your response professional and positive, and explain your personal reasons politely without mentioning too much detail. Don’t forget to express your interest in staying in touch and hearing about future job openings. 

If you’re replying by email, make sure to proofread it for errors. If you’re calling, it helps to prepare a rough script beforehand.

By Email

1. Respond Promptly (Within the Same Business Day)

Imagine yourself in the recruiter’s shoes: they’ve invested lots of time and resources interviewing candidates, so a prompt response to let them know your decision is the least you could do. They can move forward with their hiring process without unnecessary delays.

Plus, your timely reply also demonstrates professionalism. Leaving the company hanging for days reflects poorly on you and, worse, could potentially burn bridges if you ever have interest in the company again.

2. Express Sincere Gratitude

Remember that the interview is a two-way street: you learn about the company and the role, and they learn about your skills and experience. Hence, a simple thank-you for their effort in getting to know you will keep the communication positive and leave a great impression, even though you’re declining a job offer.

3. Be Upfront And Clear With Your Decision

Don’t be vague or apologetic. Hiring managers like us expect a decision from you, and anything unclear can be very frustrating for us!

Here’s a simple example of a direct and professional statement: 

“Thank you for offering me the [Job Title] position at [Company’s Name]. After thoughtful consideration, I’ve decided to decline this offer…” 

4. Explain Your Decision

You don’t need to write a lengthy email explaining your offer decline, but at least include a brief reason to show respect for the company’s effort. Most of the time, one or two sentences mentioning how the current role hasn’t aligned with your career goals will be sufficient. 


“While the [Job Title] position at [Company’s Name] is very appealing, I have decided to settle for another job opportunity that aligns better with my career goals in [Your Field].” 

As you can see, this email template provides a concise explanation without going into unnecessary detail.

5. Be Positive 

Professionalism is key, regardless of what might discourage you from taking the offer! Keep your tone positive and professional to show maturity, and avoid any hostile language that could be interpreted as a complaint about the company, the role, or the interview process. 

The example below highlights the favorable aspects of your job application experience: 

“While I won’t be accepting the offer this time around, I was very impressed with [Company’s Name]’s commitment to [Company Value] and the team’s collaborative spirit during the interviews.” 

6. Wish Them Well

Though you two will not work together in the near future, you should still demonstrate your continued interest in their success. For instance, most qualified applicants express how they genuinely hope the company can find someone else who fits the position (and the company culture) well:

  • “I wish you the best of luck finding a suitable candidate for the position.”
  • “I hope your candidate search will be successful.”
  • “I trust you will find a perfect fit for this role.”
  • “I have no doubt you’ll find a strong candidate for the team.”

7. Ask To Stay In Touch

As I said earlier, not every job rejection is a closed door. If you think there’s a possibility you might be interested in working for the company in the future, you can always leave the doors open. Thank them for the opportunity, then express interest in staying informed about future openings that might better fit your goals.


“Thank you again for this opportunity. I enjoyed learning more about [Company’s Name] and the team during the interviews. While this particular role isn’t the right fit at this time, I’d be happy to hear about future openings that might better align with my career goals in [Your Field].”

8. Proofread Carefully 

Last but not least, double-check your email before hitting send. 

Any professional email is considered a clear reflection of you and your communication skills (even when it is written to decline a job offer), so take a few extra minutes to proofread and ensure a polished, error-free message.

On The Phone

1. Be Prepared 

Take a moment to prepare a clear and concise statement; this approach shows your respect for the hiring manager’s time and avoids unnecessary fumbling. Here’s an example: “Thank you for offering me the [Job Title] position. While it sounds very interesting, I’ve decided to…”

2. Start With Gratitude

As always, good manners go a long way, even when you are not going to work with the company. A simple yet sincere thank you acknowledges their effort and shows courtesy:

“Thank you for offering me the [Job Title] position at [Company’s Name]. I truly appreciate you taking the time to speak with me today and learn more about my background and qualifications.”

3. Clearly State Your Decision 

As I said earlier, vagueness is frustrating when the hiring manager expects a clear Yes or No answer, so don’t beat around the bush. “After detailed consideration, I’ve decided to decline the offer” is straightforward enough without confusion. 

If you feel comfortable, share honest feedback on why this offer does not align with your expectations; the company will understand what is attracting or deterring potential candidates. Some examples:

  • “I’ve accepted another offer that responds directly to my current career goals.”
  • “The responsibilities of the role don’t quite match the level of [desired skill] I’m looking for in my next position.”
  • “After further reflection, I’ve realized I’m seeking a role with more [desired aspects, e.g., travel, remote work].”

4. Ask Questions (Optional)

Sometimes, the reason for declining might be related to something potentially negotiable, like salary agreements or benefits. 

If that’s your case, you can ask clarifying questions before definitively rejecting the offer. When phrased well, they can both show your interest in the opportunity and highlight a specific dealbreaker. For instance:

“The salary falls a bit short of my expectations. I might be open to reconsidering if there’s any flexibility on the range.”

5. Be Gracious

Again, remember that burning bridges is never a great idea, even if the offer isn’t perfect. The professional world can be surprisingly small, and you never know when paths might cross again! So, I suggest being polite and appreciative throughout the conversation.

Example: “Thank you again for the opportunity. While the position isn’t the right fit for me at this time, I wish you the best of luck in finding the perfect candidate.”

Lastly, leave the doors open if you think the company might have better job openings for you in the future: “If any future openings arise that better align with my goals, I’d be happy to hear about them.”

6. Take Notes

Occasionally, there might be details you want to remember after the call, like a timeline for their search for a new candidate. Jot them down while on the phone to avoid forgetting later.

Examples Of Kindly Declining A Job Offer

Email Decline

Subject: Job Offer – Editor Position – Green Leaf Publishing

Dear Ms. Rodriguez,

Thank you for offering me the Editor position at Green Leaf Publishing. I truly appreciate you taking the time to interview me and discuss the role in detail.

After consideration, I’ve decided to turn down the offer. This decision was not easy, as I was very impressed with Green Leaf Publishing’s high-quality work and the passion I felt from the hiring team during the interviews.

However, I’ve realized that my current career goals are leading me in a slightly different direction. I’m particularly interested in pursuing opportunities that allow me to develop my skills in digital content editing alongside traditional print editing.

Thank you again for your time and consideration. I wish you the best of luck finding the perfect candidate for this role.


Sarah John

Phone Decline

Hiring Manager: Sarah, thank you again for your time today. We were very impressed with your experience and editing skills in both fiction and non-fiction. What do you think about our offer?

Sarah: Thank you so much, Ms. Rodriguez. I truly appreciate you offering me the position. (After a short pause) However, after careful consideration, I’ve decided to decline the offer at this time.

Hiring Manager: I understand. Is there anything in particular that led you to this decision?

Sarah: While the editor position at Green Leaf Publishing is a great opportunity, I’m currently looking for a role that will allow me to develop my skills in digital content editing, specifically for online publications, alongside my experience in traditional print editing. Turning down this offer is not an easy decision for me. 

Hiring Manager: Thank you, Sarah. We wish you the best of luck.

Sarah: Thank you again for the opportunity. I wish you all the best in finding the perfect candidate for the team. Perhaps our paths will cross again in the future.

Can You Decline A Job Offer After You Already Accepted It?

Yes. In most cases, accepting a job offer isn’t a legally binding contract (unless you signed a formal employment agreement), so you always have the right to back out.

Nevertheless, I must say this might damage your professional reputation and hurt your credibility. If you really have no other choice, announce your decision as soon as possible to minimize the disruption it might cause to the company’s hiring process.


I’ve shared some tips on rejecting a job offer. 

Whether you want to do it by email or phone, remember to keep your response positive and express your desire to stay connected for potential future opportunities. If you need further assistance, feel free to reach out to me.

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Christina J Colclough

Christina J. Colclough

Dr Christina J. Colclough is an expert on The Future World of Work and the politics of digital technology advocating globally for the importance of the workers’ voice. She has extensive regional and global labour movement experience, is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach, and strategist advising progressive governments and worker organisations.

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