I made a stupid mistake they asked me if I am willing to commute. I told them yes, but I prefer the closer location. However, I received the job offer at the further location. Now I regret it as I cannot commute for 30 miles given that I am in California and it will take me at least 2 hours back and forth.

So I guess how can I decline the job offer?

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    I recommend negotiating for the closer location, because after more research, you discovered that the commute isn't feasible. I commute 35 miles in California to my job daily. It's a bit of a pain, but very doable. – jcmack Dec 5 '18 at 8:34
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    If it's a very good opportunity, other than the commute, and it's it's a good locality, then perhaps you could consider re-locating. – user1751825 Dec 5 '18 at 10:11
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    “I made a stupid mistake” — no you didn’t. You changed your mind. You’re allowed to do this. – Paul D. Waite Dec 5 '18 at 14:10
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    Is "2 hours back and forth" the total for the day or the duration for one way (totalling 4 hours daily)? – phresnel Dec 5 '18 at 14:12

If you want to decline only for the commute reason and are open to joining them if your location is closer, then you can say something like this:

Thanks for the offer. I was really looking forward to work with you but as of now but I am unable to travel 30 miles every day. While I mentioned I am open to commuting I did indicate my preference to be closer. Thanks again for showing your confidence in me and I am sorry I cannot take this offer as of now. I hope we get an opportunity to work together again in future.

You may be concerned that it will look like you are turning back on what you said during the interview but I think it is okay. Even if commute was not your concern, declining a job offer is kind of turning back because you did appear for interview and expressed your interest in working. This happens all the time.

Also, now you have clearly communicated to them what you want and they can decide if they want to change the location for you.

  • +1 Giving the reason also leaves open the possibility that the company may approach you later if they have a job that doesn't require the commute. – DJClayworth Dec 5 '18 at 16:08
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    If the job offer was for $1 Million you'd probably be fine with the commute. So evaluating the entire offer and then declining is perfectly reasonable. – Chris Dec 7 '18 at 0:12

Don't give a reason unless you're hoping to turn it into a negotiation to change that reason.

In other words, if you'd be willing to accept based on a closer location, or partial work from home, or flexible schedules, or some other condition that eliminates the commute time, go ahead and explain that the commute is preventing you from accepting. If you really want the job, you have nothing to lose by asking.

If however you're not interested in the position and/or don't expect a negotiation to go in your favor, don't give a reason. You're under no obligation to do so, and if you're sure you no longer want the job, you have nothing to gain by giving a reason.

  • Why would he NOT want to leave open at least the possibility of taking the job if the commute issues were reduced? If he declines the job saying it's only because of the commute distance, then if the company opens an office in his home town they will probably contact him. If he declines without a reason they may not. – DJClayworth Dec 5 '18 at 16:06
  • Sure, that might happen, though I suppose it would fall under my first paragraph, not my second. But maybe they'd also think, "well, he implied he'd be OK with a commute and now he's telling us he doesn't want one? That's shifty." Turning down an offer is similar to leaving an employer: generally, giving a reason is potentially giving them something to be upset at you about, and burning a bridge. Google can give you plenty of references backing up that it's generally not helpful to give "why I don't want to work for you" feedback unless there's a specific, realistic potential upside for you. – dwizum Dec 5 '18 at 17:11

Say No.

You don't have to give a reason when declining a job offer, if they ask why you can easily just say "personal reasons" or you've had a better offer.

Even if you say you've reconsidered the travel and you've decided against it now. So basically just decline it and that's it.

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    Why would he not want to give a reason? Giving a reason at least leaves open the possibility of the company addressing it, either now or if another opening comes up in the future. – DJClayworth Dec 5 '18 at 16:07
  • Agreed with @DJClayworth. The only time you'd want to give a generic "no" is when the declining reason is something personal or offensive to the company. In this case, it's a very understandable reason, which might open the door to negotiating for part-remote or closer location if they want him enough. – c36 Dec 6 '18 at 4:43
  • Question says how to decline. Not how to negotiate, not how to improve the situation. To Decline You say no. Not once did OP say I want to see if they can change it – Twyxz Dec 6 '18 at 7:47

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