A new job – great! Wait … you want to turn it down?

So you have been through a few rounds of interviews, you probably feel flattered by the attention and (possibly sooner than expected) you have been offered the job.

Great! Wait. You’re not sure this is the dream job for you? What next?

There could be a whole host of reasons that you have come this far, but do not want to proceed:

Maybe the interview process has been haphazard – perhaps long gaps in between interviews (how urgent is this?), no feedback from meetings (do they value their staff?), seemingly round after round of interviews, tests and meetings (do they know what they want or are they un-decisive?).

Maybe during the interview process the company has had negative press – could be anything from an Industrial Tribunal to poor results reported – or the position’s circumstances have changed. Perhaps your future line manager has left the business or the company is going through a restructure.

Maybe you have not been entirely honest with yourself and the business. Perhaps you have no intention of leaving your current business and you were just ‘kicking tyres’.

Maybe the offer is so under par, that there is no point in negotiating, because you feel that this is an indication of how they value the position.

Don’t burn your bridges

Whatever it might be, you need to extract yourself gracefully, ideally without burning any bridges because you just do not know when you come across the decision makers again (retail is a small world…), whilst also staying true to yourself. In other words give them the real reason, rather than a feeble excuse.

Expect them to try and persuade you to change your mind, after all they have made a significant investment in time to arrive at this point, so make certain when you decline an offer you give them a precise and concise reason, from which you cannot and will not be swayed. And apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Some are easy, for example:

“The company’s recent annual results are a real surprise to me and I feel that I have been misled or have misunderstood the business’ current trading performance. I have set myself the target to join a growing business, rather than a turnaround”.

Others are more difficult:

“I feel that the position is not significantly different from the one I have currently and know that my prospects for promotion are greater where I am”.


“On reflection, I have misgivings about the fact that the company culture is so different than I am used to, and I’m concerned that this appointment will not work out for either you or me”.

My advice is to make sure that the reason for you turning the offer down, cannot be (easily) rectified. If it is about money, they may offer you more. If it is about not being able to work from home more than one day, they’ll easily offer you that concession.

The financial state of their business or current performance, the company culture or the lack of available progression are not easily fixed…

Need help? Call me!