Saying “no” can be difficult—and awkward. By the time you’re offered a job, you and representatives from the company have invested time and possibly even money on transportation costs. Your main goal during the interview process is to convince a company you’re perfect for the position and the organization is perfect for you. So changing your mind at the pivotal moment of acceptance can be a hard conversation to have. To be prepared to deliver your answer with grace, here’s what you need to know.

No one wants to be branded ungrateful, unprofessional or even unkind. You can avoid all of these labels by learning how to deliver rejection with these three steps:

  1. Be timely. Don’t drag your feet with your answer—it’s just rude. If you’ve decided a position isn’t right for you or you won’t fit into the company culture, let the hiring manager know as soon as possible. A phone call is more personal than an email, so try to give your answer by phone. They will respect your swift response, since the company is trying to fill the position as soon as possible and will need to reach out to the next person in line.
  2. Say thank you. Your gratitude goes a long way. Even though you don’t want the job, you can still appreciate the process—how you were treated, conversations you had, tours you took and people you met along the way. You might begin with, “I’ve decided to decline this offer because this position is not for me. But thank you so much for the time you spent with me during the interview process and for considering me for the position.” Then, include specific details about what you liked—this can help the hiring manager understand what works in the company’s hiring process.
  3. Explain yourself. It’s important to give a brief reason why you’re rejecting the job offer—especially since you’ve spent considerable time telling the hiring manager how much you want this job. Maybe you’ve chosen to accept a different job that aligns more with your career goals, or maybe you’ve decided it’s not quite the right time to leave your current job. You don’t need to get too specific, but a simple explanation is a polite way to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

How to avoid a future awkward conversation

Make sure your research is as complete as possible before you apply. If certain things are make or break for you, these may be included in the job description or on the company website. It may not possible to know everything about a company prior to the interview, but you can get some major clues that indicate the position and organization are simply not for you. If this is the case, you probably shouldn’t apply.

Looking for a job that fits your career needs?

If you’re currently looking for a new job but can’t quite find the right position for you—reach out to McGrath Systems. We place candidates with positions in engineering, IT, human resources, administration and light industrial. To learn more and begin working with one of our experienced staffing professionals, contact us today!


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