Should I call to decline a job offer?

Needing to decline a job offer is one of those awkward situations that most of us will eventually find ourselves in. It’s a simple question of etiquette—is it best to call the employer to tell them you’ll be declining?

You should call to decline a job offer. A phone call is the best way to decline a job offer. It ensures they get your decision as quickly as possible, and it is considered a professional courtesy to call them. That said, declining the job through an email is not unacceptable.

It’s understandable not to feel any obligation to an employer who has offered you a job you don’t want. But it’s best practice to call in these cases, as you still want to present the most professional version of yourself.

Is it better to call to decline a job offer?

Is it better to call to decline a job offer?

It is better to call to decline a job offer as a phone call is still considered the most professional way to decline the offer. While it is not uncommon for job offers to be declined through email, letter, or even text messages, a phone call puts you in direct contact with the employer in a way that an email would not. The employer will greatly appreciate the courtesy, and from your point of view it’s the quickest way to fully resolve the issue.

But on the other hand it can depend on the job in question, of course. A very well paid, highly specialised and technical job offer might be better declined over the phone especially if it is in line with your career. Equally, sending an email to decline a job offer for an entry level position might seem reasonable, but we suggest you adopt good habits early in life to ensure you have a prosperous career. Positive professional behaviours get you used to the kinds of professionalism that employers expect out of applicants and employees. When this behaviour eventually comes naturally to you, it will make navigating the professional environment a lot easier.

Either way, a call is still the better way to do it. Let’s look at why.

Why is it better to call to decline a job?

The main reason it’s better to call to decline a job is that it resolves the matter as quickly as possible and is more personable. The hiring process can take a long time, while at the same time the role may need to be filled as quickly as possible. By offering you the job, the employer is really extending a compliment to you.

By offering the job to you, they have looked at you, your work experience and decided that you are a good fit for their business. Even if it is an entry level job and you have no experience, the employer is taking a risk with you, and has offered you the opportunity to work with them. If you’ve been offered the job and don’t want to accept it, the employer will want to know your decision as soon as soon as possible, so that they can offer another applicant the job if you aren’t interested. You don’t want someone else to be put out, by you not letting the employer know quickly.

How to turn down a job offer but keep the door open?

If you can to turn down a job offer but keep the door open, you need to make sure you continue to make a great impression. Calling the employer to refuse a job offer takes courage, and it provides a great insight into your professionalism even in difficult circumstances.

You might also want to consider that email is not very good at expressing tone. It can be very blunt and matter-of-fact. By getting on the phone and letting them know that you had to choose between two opportunities and that it was a difficult choice, the Employer will be able to hear the sincerity in your voice.

Additionally, the two-sided nature of a phone call, means that if they are impressed by you and really wanted you, they might say “well if your other opportunity doesn’t work out, please get back in touch” and they are more likely to remember you as that stand-out candidate.

Why is it better to call to decline a job offer?

Especially if the employer is within a niche career path, you never know if you might want to reconnect with the same employer in the future for a new opportunity. Employers will be much more open to considering you again if you did them the courtesy of calling to decline the offer.

How to decline a job offer over the phone?

To decline a job offer over the phone, you just need to be friendly, polite, and to the point. Explain that you’re very appreciative for the opportunity and the offer, for the time the employer has spent, and of course for the fact that you were their first choice. Explain that the job was very attractive to you, but that you’ve made the decision to go with another offer or opportunity at that time.

Keep the door open for networking, and make clear you’d be happy to stay in touch for future opportunities. If possible, ask to speak directly to the recruiting manager or employee you were in touch with during the process. This is particularly important, as you don’t want a middle-person to forget to pass the message on.

As long as you show gratitude, appreciation, and are polite, declining the job offer will be no trouble—it happens more often than you might think.

Script to decline a job offer

The following is a basic script to decline a job offer. It may need to be adapted to your circumstances and you don’t want to just speak at them in your own monologue, but it has the main points that you can use.

“I want to thank you for offering me the role of [job title] and while I am so honoured that you chose me for this role, unfortunately I cannot accept it this time.”

“I really like the look of your company so I wanted to personal call you to explain why I can’t accept the job at this time.”

“I had to choose between this opportunity and another and it was such a hard decision but I ultimately have gone with the other job.”

“Who knows what the future will be and I am still interested in your company so if it is ok with you, if I become available in the future I would like to let you know in case you have any other opportunities?”

How to decline a job offer after accepting over the phone

Knowing how to decline a job offer after you’ve already accepted it can feel even more difficult. Largely, though, the best way to decline a job offer after you’ve accepted it is to do so in the same way as you would had you not accepted it.

Make clear that you regret you’ve had to change your mind, that you know this has inconvenience them and you apologise for that. Any employer understands that if you receive a better offer elsewhere, you will not miss out on that in order to avoid having to decline once you’ve already accepted.

Just be friendly, be direct, don’t waste time in getting to it, and again be sure to explain the reasons for your decision. If they liked your CV and experience enough, they may still want you in the future!