According to this site, if you decide to decline a job offer:

do so courteously, in writing, after making a phone call

I'm curious, though. What if I signed up already for a 2nd round of interviews before I found out I wanted to accept a different job offer (i.e., I already committed to going to visit company X for an interview, but before that date came I found that company Y was giving me a better offer)?

In that case, should I still go along with the interview normally and break the news that I'll pursue other options by phone/letter? I appreciate any tips or advice.

4 Answers 4


I have had interviews cancelled because the candidate has already accepted an offer somewhere else. This doesn't require much protocol: you can call or email, and you're only cancelling an interview. If you send a nice paper letter, you may be thought well of by the people involved, but you don't have to.

However getting two job offers is a little trickier. Once someone has given you a job offer in writing, declining it should at least get the same treatment. If the offer was in email, you can reply in email. Be nice. Tell them why you are declining, in as polite and vague a way as you need to. When I send "sorry, but you didn't get the job" letters to candidates, I say "we have made an offer to another candidate, who has accepted it" so you could say "I have already received and accepted an offer from another company".

Most firms are going to be a little annoyed. Maybe they feel you shouldn't accept that offer right away but should somehow let them know someone else has given you an offer. Maybe they feel you held back information in the interview. This isn't very logical: none of us would tell our children to stop applying for jobs just because they've had an interview, and after all the firm is interviewing lots of candidates. But people aren't always logical. So write a nice letter or email and do it as quickly as you can, so they can make an offer to the second place person while that person is still on the market. Email is good for speed; you can follow up with paper if you want.


If you have received and accepted a written offer, then call or email immediately and remove yourself from consideration if you will no longer consider the position especially if you have an interview scheduled. They may want to use that time slot to interview someone else. If you have a verbal offer, I would be less likely to inform the other company immedaitely because many a verbal offer has been rescinded or changed by the time you get the written offer.

If you are still interested in the second postion, you can go to the interview or call them up if the interview has already happened and tell them that you have another offer. It is best if you can delay accepting the first offer if you are still interested in the second. And be aware that after accepting one postion, if you come back and turn it down within a couple of weeks, you may be burning future bridges at the first company.


The two most important factors for the "decline" message are:

  • Timeliness - Make sure you send over notice of your declining the offer as soon as you possibly know it. The reason for this is that the hiring process is often managed in a concurrent way - with many candidates "in the pipeline." However, once an offer is made, it is sequential. If you get the first offer, you should decline it early, so that the hiring manager can make an offer to the next candidate in the pipe. This is helpful to both the company and any other current applicants.
  • Formality - Be careful to match the level of formality that was extended to you. Have you been interacting with this company exclusively through casual emails? Decline the offer that way. Phone calls? Decline the offer that way. Letters? Go that route. Speak whatever language the company has been speaking to you.

Other things to take note of:

  • Don't leave the door open with loose language unless you are actually open to a second, higher offer. Be clear and to the point, and ruthlessly edit your message to the shortest version that conveys the information.
  • Separate from the formal message, send out some personal thank you notes to any people in the company who personally shepherded your application or interviews. They deserve to know that they are appreciated, and could be a valuable part of your network in the future.

If you think company Y has the best offer, then simply go with them. I would say that unless you signed something, you're under no obligation to say anything. However, keep in mind that in some circumstances employee at Company X may know someone at company Y. This is especially common in areas with a narrow job market for the field. In my area, there is one company that seems like everyone has or had worked at and had or had known someone worked at.

With that said, it is very important that you never burn any bridges. Simply send an email, and perhaps a phone call but don't miss the interview time or do the email after. Give them at least 48 hours notice.

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