To turn down a job offer without burning bridges, keep these four things in mind
Don’t ghost the hiring manager or recruiter.
Ghosting is never acceptable. It’s disrespectful and rude to simply disappear without an explanation. It speaks quite negatively of your character and can easily jeopardize your chances of landing a job in the future.
The business world is smaller than you might think, so you never know who the hiring manager will talk to. Perhaps they’re friends with someone from another company you’re an interview with. You want them to remember you as a person who was qualified and trustworthy, not solely as the candidate who ghosted them. If you worked with a recruiter, you want them to remember you as both a good candidate and a considerate person.
Don’t feel obligated to provide details.
You have every right to turn down a job offer, and you’re under no obligation to give details on why. All the hiring manager really needs to know is that you won’t be taking the job. Keep your message short and sweet, and be clear that you’re declining their offer. A simple message that thanks to the hiring manager for the opportunity and lets them know that unfortunately, you’re declining the offer is sufficient.
Thank the hiring manager for their time and for the opportunity. Saying thank you shows respect for the company, and the sentiment will be very much appreciated. It’s the little things like this that set you apart from other candidates, even when you’re turning down an offer. In the future, you might cross paths with the hiring manager again. You want them to remember something positive about you, and saying thank you will help ensure that’s the case.
Sometimes a phone call is better.
Email isn’t always the best way to turn down a job offer. If you’ve built up a rapport with the hiring manager, or if a lot of communication throughout the interview process was done by phone, that should be how you decline the offer as well. Admittedly, it can be a bit more awkward over the phone, but it’s more personal. You can express your gratitude for the opportunity and sense of regret in turning down the offer through the tone of your voice. If you call the hiring manager and they don’t pick up, you can either try calling again later or leave a voicemail.