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How to Back Away From a Bad Job Offer

How to Back Away From a Bad Job Offer

Your interview is going well… Your answers seem to impress your interviewer, and your witty remarks are eliciting an occasional chuckle. He seems pleased with your background and satisfied that you meet all the requirements for the job. Then something goes wrong—on HIS end, not yours. In one awkward exchange, you recognize that this job might not be what you're looking for, for any of the following reasons:


  • You recognize a serious mismatch between the company's philosophy or politics and your own.
  • You realize that this company isn't treating its customers, employees, or community in a way that you can condone.
  • The salary on offer is far below the rate you can accept.
  • The job will involve a task or working condition that's unsafe or beyond your limitations.
  • You just simply don't like this guy and you'd rather not accept him as your boss.
  • The job will involve a daily two hour commute and that's too long for you.


For these reasons and many others, job seekers often find themselves in a tricky position; they're losing interest in the job, but they're deeply immersed in the application process and they don't want to waste the employer's time, burn bridges, or rudely walk away. If an exciting job opportunity loses its bloom without warning, how should you respond? Here are four tips to keep in mind.

1. Be polite but firm.

Diplomacy is the art of simultaneously showing respect for yourself and respect for someone else, even when the two of you have conflicting interests. You'll need to close the door on this dialogue before you waste any more of your job search time, but as you do this, you'll need to make the other party feel respected and valued. If you need to stand up and leave in the middle of the interview, do so with a polite smile and a firm handshake. Thank the employer sincerely and wish him well in the search for another candidate.

2. Be direct.

Don't put off your decision, and don't waffle. If you know you can't take the job, don't lead the employers to believe you might. Don't leave phone calls unanswered or messages unreturned. And don't make ambiguous statements that indicate that you're still in the running.

3. It's never too late.

Most modern working arrangements are "at-will" agreements, not binding contracts. If you haven't signed a legal contract, you can walk away at any moment, even one day before your start date.

4. You don't have to explain.

Maybe you're leaving because the employers can't make accommodations for your severe latex allergy, or maybe you're walking away because you don't believe the company is on sound financial footing. Maybe you don't like the rude way you were treated during the interview, or the 45 minutes you were left waiting in the reception area before the session began. Maybe the job doesn't align with your long term plans, or the building is located in an area that's hard to reach. If you feel like sharing this detail, do so. But if you don't, that's okay too. You can simply say that you're "taking your search in another direction." This is what most employers say to rejected candidates, and it's easy to see why; this statement is polite, respectful, professional, and impersonal.

Let This One Go

If an opportunity isn't working for you, let it go and move forward. Get back to the search without wasting a moment or missing a beat. Visit MyPerfectResume for tools that can help you stay in motion no matter what happens.

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