How to say no to a job

Welcome to the newly redesigned Science Careers Forum. Please bookmark this site now for future reference. If you've previously posted to the forum, your current username and password will remain the same in the new system. If you've never posted or are new to the forum, you will need to create a new account.

The new forum is designed with some features to improve the user experience. Upgrades include:
- easy-to-read, threaded discussions
- ability to follow discussions and receive notifications of updates
- private messaging to other SC Forum members
- fully searchable database of posts
- ability to quote in your response
- basic HTML formatting available

Moderator: Dave Jensen
Advisors:   Ana, PG, Rich Lemert, Dick Woodward, Dave Walker
Meet the Moderator/Advisors

How to say no to a job

Postby PG » Mon Nov 28, 2016 10:49 am

This is a question that comes up now and then but I dont think there is a thread about it so I thought it might be useful to get some discussions running.

At different points during a job seeking process you may need to say no thank you to a position. This can happen very early wif you are for example contacted by a Company or a recruiter for a position that you are at least not currently interested in pursuing or it can happen later in the process up to saying no to an actual offer.

In all of these situations yYou want to say no thank you in a way that allows you to have future contacts with that same company or recruiter for other positions or maybe even for the same type of position but at another point in your life or career.

What are some of the strategies that you have used successfully yourself or that you as a hiring manager would look at as acceptable in a way that you will consider that same candidate for another position in the future. These strategies probably have to be different depending on how far you have gone in the process so please try to specify when you think that your suggested strategy is a good one.
Posts: 1032
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Re: How to say no to a job

Postby Ana » Tue Nov 29, 2016 4:32 am

Hi PG,

I think the key to remain in good terms is to say “no” as soon as you know it. If you make them lose time unnecessary, and that could mean losing candidates, no matter how nice you say it you’ve caused them problems and they won’t remember you in a good light.

I have been in a couple of scenarios.

One is when I’ve received and accepted a job offer in the middle of a job search where I had other interviews still lined up. In that case as soon as I accepted the offer I reached out to the other interviewers to let them know I had just accepted a position, ask to withdraw from their selection process, and wish them the very best.

I’ve been to places where during the final on-site interview I realized I wouldn’t want to work there. That happened twice to me, and in one of the places at the end of the day the hiring manager had told me that if I wanted the position it was mine. I take that as an “unofficial offer”. In both cases I immediately contacted them (like in next morning) to say no, and the way I did it was to tell them that I did not think it was the right position for me at the time. I thanked them for the time, praised the team and the work they are doing, and wished them the best in their selection process.

I think that questioning the fit with the position (not with the team/company) and framing it into “at this time” (not forever) leaves many doors open for future interviews for other positions. And tell them as soon as you know you will not be accepting that position!

User avatar
Posts: 655
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:48 pm
Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: How to say no to a job

Postby PG » Tue Nov 29, 2016 3:00 pm

I agree that saying no as early as possible is important and the most early time Point I can Think of when you can say no is when you are contacted by a Company or a recruiter about a position that you at that time dont have an interest in pursuing.
In these scenarios I try to motivate why I am not interested at this specific time Point and at the same time give information about what I would be interested in (if anything). I also try to offer an alternative solution ie to suggest Another candidate or Contact that might be useful for the ongoing search. I have found that this approach works well in the sense that the same recruiting companies comes back to me at additional occasions when they have other positions that they Believe would be a good fit.

On the other extreme the latest possible time when you can say no to a position is when you have an actual offer. At this time the Company and possible recruiter involved have spent considerable time and Resources on you as a candidate and saying no at this time can be sensitive. I have actually never done this myself but as a hiring manager I can see very few options that would actually work. The most obvious one is if something Changes in the Life of the applicant is someone gets sick, a partner gets a position in another country so they have to move etc. I would consider this type of Changes bad luck (at least for the Company) and this is nothing that would be held against the applicant in the future. The second good option that I can think of is if the applicant just received and accepted an offer from another Company but in this scenario it wouldbe preferred if the applicant tells me Before we actually make an offer. If people have additional good explanations to use this late in the process please let us know.
Posts: 1032
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Return to Science Careers Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: David Lathbury and 12 guests