Sometimes a job offer isn't a good fit, even though you applied for the role hoping it would be. Or, perhaps, you’re in the position of being offered two opportunities at once. It’s never easy, but sometimes declining a job offer is necessary. In this article, we offer guidelines on how to politely turn down a job offer and sample emails that you can customize based on your situation.
How to turn down a job offer
Here are some recommended steps for turning down a job offer:
1. Don’t procrastinate
Once you’ve decided to decline the offer, don’t delay writing to the employer. Letting the company know in a timely manner will help them move forward more quickly in their own process.
2. Keep it simple and to the point
Start by being straightforward and honest in your message. Don’t go overboard with excessive compliments about the company or the people you’ve interacted with—it’s a rejection letter after all. Say what needs to be said as respectfully as you can and avoid being overly emotional.
3. Say “thank you”
Thank the hiring manager for their time. Above all, maintain a tone of gratitude as you write the letter, letting the recruiter and hiring manager know that you appreciate their time and effort.
4. Provide a reason but don’t get specific
Your reasons for not accepting the offer could be as simple as the company didn’t offer you the compensation you were seeking. Perhaps you weren’t sure you’d work well with the hiring manager, or maybe you weren’t excited about the company. While these are all justifiable reasons to decline a job offer, you should not include them in your rejection letter. It is sufficient to say that you’ve accepted a job offer elsewhere or simply that this job offer isn’t the right fit.
5. Consider offering to stay in touch
If you felt a warm connection with the hiring manager but the role wasn’t a good fit for other reasons, consider offering to stay in touch and provide additional contact information. Don’t feel obligated to provide this information, but some people might see this opportunity as a way to build their professional network.
Email example for when you have accepted another job
If you’ve accepted another position, here is an example to help you craft your own email to turn down a job offer:
Subject line: Job offer – [ Your name ]
Dear Mr./Ms. [ insert last name of hiring manager ] ,
Thank you very much for offering me the role of [ insert name of position ] with [ insert company name ] . Though it was a difficult decision, I have accepted a position with another company.
I sincerely enjoyed our conversations and very much appreciate your taking time to interview me over the course of the past few weeks.
Again, thank you for your time and consideration; best wishes in your continued success, and I hope our paths cross again in the future.
Email example for when the job is not a good fit
Though it’s typically a good idea to provide a reason, you might not always have one, or you might not care to provide. Here’s a second example that will help you decline the job offer politely without specific details:
Subject line: Job offer – [ Your name ]
Dear Mr./Ms. [ insert last name of hiring manager ] ,
Thank you very much for offering me the role of [ insert name of position ] . However, I have decided that this is not the right fit for my career goals at this time.
I sincerely enjoyed our dialog as well as discussions with your team, and I very much appreciate your taking time to share information about the role and vision of [ insert company name ] .
Again, thank you for your time and consideration; best wishes in your continued success.
Tips for turning down a job offer
Be sure you’re making a well-considered decision. Once you have declined the job, there is close to zero chance you’ll be offered the position again. This is not the time to attempt to negotiate a better deal.
Finally, don’t be afraid to reject the job offer if it simply isn’t the right fit. Turning down a job offer can be both a difficult and delicate task, but when done well, it will enable you to move on to the right job and keep your professional network intact.
You did it. After spending several long weeks applying for internships , you finally got an internship offer. Congratulations! But like, WTF do you do now?
First things first: Celebrate! You probably put a lot of time and effort writing an amazing resume and cover letter for internships . So, go on — treat yo’self. Binge watch a Netflix show. Eat some tasty sushi while reading a good book. Buy a German chocolate cupcake, devour the eff out of it, and then order a second cupcake. Why? Because you can . (And because German chocolate is the best cupcake flavor — don’t @ me.)
After you’re finished celebrating, it’s time to think about how to accept an internship offer. Whether you know you’re going to accept or you’re hoping that a high-paying internship offer comes your way, here’s how to respond like the professional you are.
Accepting an Internship
When you first receive an internship offer, it doesn’t hurt to meet with your career advisor to discuss the opportunity. After all, he or she is probably familiar with your career goals and can provide you with guidance that may help inform your decision.
After you’ve met with your advisor, here’s how to accept an internship offer:
- Get the offer in writing. Although you may have already accepted the internship over the phone, it’s always a good idea to get your offer in writing. That way, you can see the details of the internship before you accept.
- Give your answer in the first sentence. If you’re officially accepting the internship, be sure to lead with an acceptance statement . Let the hiring manager know right away that you’re accepting the position.
- Reiterate your start date. Be clear about your availability by confirming the start date of the internship.
- Be grateful yet professional. Watch the tone of your email. You want to sound excited and appreciative without coming across as childish. No emojis or abbreviations.
Here is an example of an internship acceptance letter:
Dear Mr. [contact name],
It is with great enthusiasm that I accept the Marketing internship position with [company name]. I am absolutely thrilled to be joining your award-winning agency and look forward to taking on my first assignment. I’m confident that I will be a positive contribution to [company name’s] goals.
As we discussed, I will report to your office at 8:30 a.m. on June 1. In the meantime, you can reach me at 555-555-5555.
Thank you again for this opportunity!
Asking for a Deadline Extension
Maybe you got an offer for an unpaid internship and can’t afford to take it. Or, perhaps you got an offer for a remote internship and aren’t sure if it’s the right opportunity for you.
In either case, it’s totally OK to ask for more time to consider the offer. Here’s how to do it in a professional manner:
- Have a reason. Don’t ask for a deadline extension just because you can. You need to have a valid reason (see above) for asking for more time.
- Be reasonable with your request. Try to make your decision within three business days, if possible.
- Convey your interest. Let them know that you’re thrilled to have received the offer and are simply asking for time to evaluate it.
Here’s an example:
Dear Ms. [contact name],
I am so thrilled to receive the offer to intern at [company name]. I enjoyed speaking with you and was particularly excited about [interesting company project]. Our interview discussion was incredibly informative and I loved hearing about [cool fact you learned during the interview].
I understand the offer deadline is to expire on [month, date, year]. I am currently focusing a significant amount of my time and energy on [reason for extension, such as midterms]. Therefore, I am kindly requesting an extension for the offer deadline to [desired deadline date]. I look forward to learning more about your organization as I consider this offer.
Declining an Internship Offer
OK, so let’s say that you’re lucky enough to receive multiple internship offers. After accepting an offer, you’ll need to break the bad news to other hiring managers. Here’s how to do it like a pro:
- Express gratitude in the first sentence. In the first sentence, let them know that you greatly appreciate the company’s time and interest.
- Politely decline the offer. The next sentence should let them know that you are declining the offer.
- Provide a reason. Explain why you’re declining the offer. Be diplomatic about it. You don’t want to burn any bridges.
Here is an example:
Dear Mr. [contact name],
Thank you so much for your offer to intern with [company name]. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to speak with me and answer my questions. Unfortunately, I am unable to accept this offer.
After careful consideration, I have decided to accept an intern position at another company. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you and I hope we cross paths in the future!
Remember to Follow Up
After you complete the internship, don’t forget to send a thank you letter to your hiring manager or supervisor. Expressing gratitude for all that you’ve learned is a nice touch that shows how much you care, so don’t skip it!
So, you’ve received that phone call offering you an internship. Maybe you went for an interview that was so successful, you received the offer immediately afterward.
Unless you’ve pretty much made up your mind that this is the internship you want, take some time to think about it. Don’t accept right off the bat, without weighing all your options and the speaking with your Internship Advisor.
Whether it’s a paid or unpaid internship, don’t go for the first one that comes your way. Instead, before you accept, make sure it’s going to be worth your while. Once you accept an internship, you’re committed to it. You will have to decline all other offers and interviews.
Here is some advice on how to accept an offer after making sure it’s the right one for you.
Ask for a Little Time
Many candidates feel pressured to respond immediately. You don’t need to do that.
You won’t jeopardize the offer if you ask for a little time to decide. It’s usual for candidates to apply for more than one internship and make the most appropriate choice. So, you may want to wait for results on some of the other internships you’ve applied to.
It’s absolutely acceptable to request some time to come to a decision. Of course, you need to make sure that your request is reasonable. Don’t ask for a week or more, as that could make it look like you’re indecisive. A period of three business days from the time of receiving the offer is reasonable.
Don’t forget that while you’re asking for some time, you want to make sure that those who are offering you the internship know that you’re interested. If you don’t express your interest, it may seem as if you’re just unable to muster enough grace to make a rejection professionally, and are stalling instead. That’s the last impression you want to take on anyone in the industry. It’s a small world, and you never know when you’ll cross paths with the HR manager you kept hanging.
Here’s an example of what your (emailed) request for time to decide could look like.
I am very excited to receive the offer to intern with APC, LLC. I enjoyed speaking with you and learning about your organization. Would it be possible for me to get back to you with my decision? I’d greatly appreciate some time to evaluate the offer.
Could I give you an answer by Tuesday?
Consider if it’s the Right Internship for You
Let’s take a brief look at the things you need to look for in your internship.
The first thing you need to think about is if it’s going to add value to your resume or career path. Is it going to make you stand out from your peers? What skill sets and experience are you likely to be able to take away from the internship? Would it help you at the next career fair?
Internships offer great opportunities to find out exactly what kind of a career you want. Will the internship give you hands-on experience in an area of your industry that you hope to pursue in the future? As long as the internship will really help you get close with an industry you’re interested in, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions about whether or not to keep working there after graduation.
You may also want to think about the mentors you’ll have. Are they the people you admire and hope to learn a lot from? Also, will the internship give you a chance to explore a new city you’ve always wanted to explore? Will it give you the chance to work on projects that matter?
These are some of the factors that will affect your decision.
How to Accept an Offer?
When you’ve made up your mind to accept the offer, write an email that starts with your statement of acceptance. Your email should also convey how enthusiastic you are to begin the internship. You may want to mention why you’re accepting the internship and your awareness of any expectations from the organization.
Go on and mention your start date again. Check out the company website or your offer if you need any kind of confirmation about dates.
Here’s an example of a letter accepting an internship. Your letter should be polite and professional, as always.
I am writing this email to accept with great enthusiasm, the internship offer I received at your firm this morning. I look forward to being a part of your highly efficient team and I’m confident that I’ll be able to make a positive contribution to the WMX company goals.
I look forward to starting the position on January 1. I have no confusions with the terms and conditions. I will be sending you a signed copy of the contract attached to this email. If you need to reach me in the meantime, please feel free to call or email me.
Once again, thank you for this opportunity.
The Bottom Line
There are many reasons to ask for a little time to decide if an internship is right for you. You may want to find out whether the employer can provide lunch stipend to cover some of your expenses, etc. If you need to take some time off towards the start of the internship, you will also want to inform them about it at this early stage.
In the end, you need to make the best decision for you. Negotiate and consider your options, as needed. Only after you’ve carefully made a choice should you contact the company.
Make sure to be courteous when accepting the offer. You can make a call and then follow it up with an email confirming the date.
If you decide to decline the offer, it will be polite to let the company know soon, so they can look for alternative candidates. Always make sure to speak to your Internship Advisor before coming to a decision either way.
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Internships are an incredibly way to gain valuable experience, learn something new, and make new friends. Having that bullet point on your resume can be a huge advantage in future job hunts, and can also give you an idea of what you might want to be when you grow up.
But, before you accept that internship that looks great on paper, there are some questions that you should always be sure to ask before making a commitment! Getting these things out of the way before will help you in the long run so that you aren’t set up for disappointment or have unrealistic expectations about what you’re in for.
So whether it be via email, phone, or during an in-person interview, make sure you get answers to these 10 questions first:
Obviously, you want to know when you’re expected to start, and how long the internship will run for. Knowing the duration of the internship will also help to give you an idea of whether or not the pay is reasonable, and if it’s worth your time. For example, if an internship for a position that requires a lot of training is only 6-weeks long, it might make you reconsider another option that is a bit more valuable for your time.
Knowing whether or not this could lead to a full-time position will give you an idea of company culture. A lot of companies prefer to promote from within, and knowing whether or not you can expect to grow with the company can also help you choose the best internship for you to avoid bouncing between companies too much.
Some of my closest friends are people I did internships with, and while having one-on-one attention can also be great, it is definitely nice to know how many people around your age you can expect to have around! Post work happy hour, anyone?
Similar to question number 2, knowing if there’s an opportunity for you to stay onboard after your official internship date can be a big deciding factor. Also, knowing that you’re already thinking long-term could give you bonus points with the company!
On my first coop, there weren’t any specific events for us, but we were invited to the annual holiday party as well as a gala, which my fellow intern and I had an amazing time at. When I participated in the Disney College Program, there were several fun events planned for interns, and they’re some of my favorite memories from the program! Knowing if they have programming for the interns can sometimes help you to gauge how many interns they’re planning on having, and how much value they place on you enjoying the whole experience.
Pay is one of the first questions on most people’s minds, and for good reason. While some internships might be hourly pay, others might offer you a stipend instead. And others might be unpaid. Don’t discount unpaid internships, if you can afford to, because they can still teach you some really valuable lessons. This question can also be a great segue to ask about transportation and housing costs and reimbursement if your internships requires you to relocate.
Many times, companies will organize some training programs for their interns that aren’t only for the purpose of job function. At Disney, participants could register for seminars in a variety of topics, like Event Operations, Marketing, Animal Sciences, and Human Resources. They also frequently held career development events. Knowing if the company wants to invest in you and your professional development is a great feeling and could expose you to something you didn’t even know you were good at before.
One of the most appealing outcomes of an internship is the prospect of getting a great recommendation or referral out of it, but keep in mind that some companies do not offer them! Make sure you know this going into it so that you don’t make it to the end of an internship you worked really hard at, only to find out they’re unable to provide a recommendation or referral for school or for a future job opportunity.
Don’t assume that every company is understanding of your personal schedule, and it’s important to know how to request time off or rearrange your schedule should you have a medical or family emergency. You wouldn’t want to start an internship and THEN find out that your sister’s wedding is the same weekend as their biggest fundraising event, so be sure to mention any of these things prior to accepting.
If you have to maintain a certain number of credits, or if you’re trying to graduate early, it’s always important to know if you can get college credit through your internship experience!
Hopefully, many of these questions will be answered through the job description, but sometimes they aren’t. If you have a question, ask! Internships are incredible experiences, and knowing what you’re in for by getting these questions out of the way is one of the first ways to assure that yours will be as amazing as possible.
Rejecting an internship offer can be awkward and embarrassing after you vigorously pursued the opportunity. You may feel even more uncomfortable if you enthusiastically said “yes” without hesitation and then changed your mind a few days later. Regardless of the timing or reasons for declining the intern offer, approach the situation with candor and professionalism. Be gracious and apologetic to avoid burning bridges and damaging your reputation.
Carefully Craft Your Response
Anticipate the employer’s response if you decide to decline a job offer. If the internship is hard to fill due to undesirable working hours and unreasonable expectations, you’re probably not the first student to turn down the offer. On the other hand, the employer may be flummoxed if the internship is highly coveted and you were hand-picked from dozens of applicants.
Put yourself in the employer’s shoes and consider how you would like a student to respond under such circumstances. Most likely, you would hope to hear appreciation for the offer that was extended. Even if the internship didn’t come with a stipend, the company was willing to provide training, supervision and mentoring. Express gratitude when calling or emailing the employer to reject the offer, Indeed Career Guide advises.
“Thank you for considering me for the internship position. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience my decision may have caused your department. I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about your growing company.”
Don’t keep a company dangling while you decide whether or not to accept an intern offer. The longer you take to decide and reply, the more annoyed the hiring manager will be with you. The employer deserves the courtesy of hearing from you right away if you’re no longer interested in the position. The subject line for rejection of a job offer should be direct like “Unavailable for Internship” to grab the attention of the hiring manager.
Responding quickly shows respect for the employer’s valuable time. Once the company knows you’re no longer interested, they can move on to the next candidate they considered for the internship or reopen their search. Procrastination on your part could cause the company to lose other strong candidates who might take internships elsewhere because they didn’t hear back.
“I wanted to get back to you as soon as possible so you can move forward in filling the internship position without delay.”
Provide a Brief Explanation
You can find sample letters for rejection of a job offer on websites like Getting You Hired. Your letter or email should include an explanation for your sudden change of heart. The employer shouldn’t be left guessing as to why you suddenly decided you didn’t want the position after spending lots of time on an application and coming in for an interview.
Use discretion in what you chose to share and keep the tone professional. For example, don’t say a better job came along with a more reputable company. Understandable reasons for declining an internship can include changes in your class load or schedule, added family responsibilities and unforeseen transportation issues, for example. Students often decline an intern offer if they land a position that better aligns with their career goals, which is the point of an internship.
“While I am honored by your offer of an internship with your prestigious firm, I have decided to accept a position that is more closely related to my interest in public service.”
Offer to Stay Connected
Way Up recommends offering to stay in touch with the company to start building a professional network. Burning bridges is never advisable, which is another reason why you should stay on good terms with the people you met through the interview process. The employer may be eager to keep in communication with you if you possess in-demand skills that would make you a competitive intern or job applicant down the road.
“I hope we can stay connected through LinkedIn. I enjoyed meeting you and your team. Perhaps you will consider me for an internship next year when my class load will be more manageable.”
College students are returning to campus and some will be returning with that elusive, coveted entry level job offer in hand. If you just completed a summer internship between your Junior and Senior year, you may have received an offer for an entry level job to return after you complete your Senior year.
So the question is: Should you accept it right away? The answer: No. At least, not yet.
You should wait until later in the Fall semester, after you have considered all of your other potential options. Then make your decision, but not before. It is only then that you will have the data needed to make a fully informed decision. And you might even surprise yourself with the eventual answer.
Getting an entry level job offer upon completion of your internship is a very good thing. You might even be inclined to accept it immediately. Why? Because it’s easy. And then you wouldn’t have to go through that job search thing again.
But that job search thing will be way more supercharged now that you have a job offer. You can only improve upon what you have in hand. And your job offer becomes a quick competitive “in” with other major employers who will quickly recognize that your job offer is a stamp of approval. It becomes your informal industry certification.
So yes, go through the employer info sessions, the job fairs, the interviewing and work toward generating multiple offers, knowing that you are already classified as a prime candidate. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
If you like what you are reading, please share it with your friends!
But what if your internship was with your first choice employer, such as Google, Facebook or Amazon? Should you just accept it outright? No. Right there I have listed two other employers who will be interested in you due to the offer from a third and this applies to all industries beyond tech. Being the industry leader does not necessarily mean the best employer. And being the best employer does not necessarily mean the best team. And the best team does not necessarily mean the best job. Do your due diligence to explore all potential avenues before making your final decision.
What if the offer is made with a limited timeframe for acceptance? Most major entry level employers provide an acceptance window of at least November or December. But what if your internship employer does not? Talk to your campus career center to find out if there are rules of engagement on your campus for employers making entry level offers. Most campuses have specifically recommended timing for employers to recruit on campus and it works to your benefit. If that’s not the case on your campus, simply ask your intern employer for a time extension. Be very open about the reasoning: You are very interested in accepting their offer, but you want to make 100% certain it is the right long-term opportunity for you before making your commitment.
Then work hard to explore all potential entry level opportunities available to you. Make sure you also review the entry level jobs posted at CollegeGrad.com to go beyond your campus in considering all of the possibilities that are out there.
Congrats on the offer! It’s a big first step toward your job after college!
I am applying for summer internships/coops, and was wondering what the process is like after you receive an offer? Say if you receive an early offer, do you have to accept it within a few days? If you accept an offer, are you aloud to decline it if you receive a better one before the internships starts? I just don't want to accept my first offer and then receive a better offer down the road.
There are basically no written rules for dealing with offers, which can work for or against you.
Say if you receive an early offer, do you have to accept it within a few days?
Ask them when they want a response, if they don't tell you up front. If it's too soon, ask for more time to evaluate it.
If you accept an offer, are you aloud to decline it if you receive a better one before the internships starts?
Yes and no. You can almost always back out of an offer, but you will burn bridges and forfeit money (signing bonuses, relocation, etc).
I just don't want to accept my first offer and then receive a better offer down the road.
What constitutes a better offer? Just more pay? Better brand recognition? As an intern, these don't matter too much. You don't get paid that much or long enough for it to matter significantly, and companies only matter so much. I'd take an internship that teaches you a lot and has you working on a lot of materials over one that pays more or is with a bigger company. This is something you should be asking about in interviews.
I Accepted an Internship Offer And Then a Better One Came Along.
I get it. You applied for a ton of internships (because I told you to apply for at least 10 per semester) and out of all of the opportunities — the one of the bottom of your list wrote you back immediately. They are interested! They want to set up an interview! You are scared because you don’t want them to offer you the position before you hear back from everyone else. What do you do? Here are my thoughts — in true “Intern Queen” tip format:
1. Congratulate Yourself. You heard back from one of your top choices! You should be flattered that one of your top ten choices got back to you at all. Many students apply for a ton of internships and never hear a word back from an employer.
2. One Step At A Time. The first step is the interview — sometimes you are required to do a second or third interview. Since this company was one that you applied for and was one of your top ten choices, I encourage you to go through the process. The opportunity might surprise you.
3. Ask Lots of Questions. Use this opportunity as a time to really understand what the company does and how they structure their internship programs. Ask questions like, “Can you describe a day in the life of one of your company interns?” You could also ask, “What is the best thing that you think students get out of this opportunity?” Don’t judge a company by it’s brand name. You want to intern at a company where they keep interns top of mind and where you’ll learn if an industry is right for you.
4. Ask for More Time. If the company offers you the position, ask them if you can have another week to get back to them and accept the offer. Tell them you want to make sure you do your homework and think about the opportunity and discuss with your family and mentors. I would also recommend following up on your other applications at this point to see if you can set up interviews. You want to get the other balls rolling.
5. Accept If You Must. If it’s crunch-time and you don’t have any other offers on the table, you might want to accept — unless it’s something you wouldn’t be happy doing. If that’s the case, it’s probably not worth your time. You don’t want to do something that you already dislike before it actually starts.
6. Be Careful About Dropping Out. If you get another offer that interests you, I would see if you can do both internships. If that’s not a possibility, you need to go with the opportunity that is going to be the most beneficial experience for you. If you had someone personally refer you to the company that you are dropping, speak to the person who recommended you first and ask for their advice — these situations can get sticky. Otherwise, it’s best that you call the internship coordinator and let him/her know ASAP. Let them know their time is valuable and you know that. Tell them you want to stay in touch and then actually stay in touch. I would try to avoid dropping the internship once the semester has already started. That’s usually the “too late” point.
You polished your resume, crafted your cover letter, prepared for interviews, followed up with thank you notes, and now you are playing the waiting game.
Finally, you get the phone call – this is it. The internship offer you have been waiting for is finally here.
Well, almost. Before you accept the internship offer, here are a few important things you need to do in order to make sure it’s right for you:
First off, congratulations! Being offered an internship is an incredible opportunity in itself. You are a competitive candidate and the prospective employer thinks that you would be a good fit for the position and company. Well done.
An excellent way to respond to an internship offer is to thank the employer and ask if you may have some time to think it over.
Many candidates feel pressured to respond immediately, but you never want to give an answer on the spot. Perhaps you are waiting on other potential positions or maybe you have another interview for a different internship later that week.
Asking if you can have some time to think it over is completely appropriate as long as you are asking for a reasonable amount of time (typically a few days and up to a week or two). This way, you can wrap up your other interviews and follow up regarding any pending decisions.
You may need some time to review the details of the offer. Was this an unpaid internship opportunity? You may want to speak with the appropriate person to see if the employer can provide a Metro Card or lunch stipend to cover some of your expenses.
Do you need a week off for your sister’s upcoming wedding? Now is the time to alert your prospective employer about any substantial commitments, rather than spring something at the last minute.
If you immediately accept an offer, you are saying yes without taking time to negotiate or consider your options.
You want to make sure that you are making the best decision for you. Once you have it figured out, get back to the employer in a timely fashion.
Whether you are accepting or declining the offer, you want to extend the same courtesy that was given to you. Make sure that you speak with someone directly; never leave a voicemail message with your decision.
If you accept the offer, a nice touch would be to follow up with an email confirming your start date and expressing your enthusiasm for your new role.
What do you think? Any other tips or advice on accepting or declining an internship offer? Let us know in the comments.
About the Author Jenna Campolieta
Jenna Campolieta facilitates an Internship Seminar for Eugene Lang students at the New School in New York City. You can follow her on twitter at @jennacamp.