I had a question about not getting a job even after I sign the offer letter and the company accepts it. Let's say that I accepted the offer letter in emails and they even replied, welcoming me to the company and telling me that they will soon be emailing me the documents for completing the process (background, ssn, degrees etc.).

Is it still possible for them to not give me the job at this stage? If yes, what could be justifiable reasons for doing so ?

  • @JoeStrazzere - I'll tell you why I came up with this hypothetical question. One good friend of mine who has strong skills and experience was let go just 2 weeks after he joined a project because the project was scrapped at that stage. Looking at this uncertainty, I wondered if worse can happen. Hence my question. Lesson learned - Keep on searching for new jobs, even if you accept a good job offer (i.e good responsibilities, benefits). – sid smith Jul 25 '14 at 19:59
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    we had one of those too once, where we hired new people and two weeks later the department was slashed from 900 people to 200 and eliminated our entire division. We had no clue that was coming when we hired the people. – HLGEM Jul 25 '14 at 20:25
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    I met a person who found on his starting date that the whole department hiring him had disappeared. That was in the UK, where you can't be fired if you're not hired. He asked around in other departments who needed work doing and stayed with the company for six years. – gnasher729 Jul 26 '14 at 13:14

It's quite possible for a job offer to be withdrawn at this stage, yes.

Imagine a company that makes an offer in good faith, but then goes bankrupt or undergoes a massive restructuring program that makes the position redundant. Or for that matter, offers might be made subject to a good reference, and then obviously might be withdrawn if instead, the references they receive are poor.

Equally, from the company's point of view, they may be expecting you to start but you could win the lottery or get hit by a bus.

There are always risks, no matter what.

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    ANd there are hiring freezes that happen. I have seen several people lose a new job because a hiring freeze got put in place after they accepted and before they started. – HLGEM Jul 25 '14 at 19:37
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    And companies get bought out, and the new company doesn't want the position or doesn't want to hire anyone until they figure out what they are going to keep and what they are not. Since this information is super secret until it happens, the hiring team may not have even been aware of the possiblity until the announcement 3 days after sending you the offer. – HLGEM Jul 25 '14 at 19:39
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    @sidsmith in a large company, it's quite possible for a division to go about addressing its tactical need to hire someone without being aware of an oncoming 'strategic' decision by the CxOs to cut a project or freeze hiring across the whole company. – Rob Moir Jul 25 '14 at 20:14
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    @HLGEM I work in the UK civil service and it's much the same here. Always good fun to have your hiring and pay policies dictated by people who don't even work for the same 'employer' as you, let alone have any idea what it is your people do. – Rob Moir Jul 25 '14 at 20:20
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    @RobM, and we all know that personnel counts should be determined by let's cut everyone by 10% rahter than let's cut people we don't need. ;) – HLGEM Jul 25 '14 at 20:21

Is it still possible for them to not give me the job at this stage? If yes, what could be justifiable reasons for doing so ?

I'll assume you are in the US, and don't have any sort of signed contract or live in a jurisdiction having specific laws about this, and aren't in a union with specific rules about this.

In general, the company can back out at any point, and so can you.

You could even arrive the first day, and they could say "Sorry, this job is no longer available." They won't need to give you any further reason.

I could imagine that company conditions change and they no longer need your services. I could imagine that new data about you comes to light, and they decide they no longer want you.

That said, for all intents and purposes, this pretty much never happens. Once you reach that stage - unless the offer is contingent on some other action (like a successful background check that hasn't yet been completed, for example), or unless something far out of the ordinary happens - you should be good to go.

The closest I have seen is what happened at a former company. An individual was hired right out of college, with a starting date 2 months out. In the interim 2 months, layoffs occurred and all unfilled positions were closed, but the individual was never notified. He showed up for work as planned on the first day and only then learned what had happened. In this case, the company did the right thing by bringing him aboard anyway. They made a position for him in a different group. Eventually, he made it into the position he had originally hoped for.

Anything can happen - even after an offer is accepted. But usually there's nothing to worry about at that stage.


Unfortunately, this is a possibility and I have seen it happen before.

At a previous firm, I extended a formal offer to a data architect. He turned in his notice and accepted the position, but before his start date, my organization announced a hiring freeze - effective immediately, and including hires in progress. I lobbied very strongly to allow this hire to go forward, but the decision was made at the highest levels of management not to honor the offer. I felt terrible that I had put someone in this position, and the situation was a contributing factor in my decision to leave that organization shortly thereafter.

If something similar is happening to you, you should take at least a bit of comfort that you won't have to work for an organization that treats people that way.

  • Thanks for sharing your experience roger. Can you please mention some strong reasons for hiring freezes in general ? Thanks. – sid smith Jul 25 '14 at 20:06
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    @sidsmith: Hiring freezes are usually related to money, in some way. They might also happen if there is a major restructuring in the works. – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jul 25 '14 at 20:16
  • Some specific examples of things that are sort of like restructuring are getting ready for an IPO or being acquired. – Amy Blankenship Jul 25 '14 at 20:19
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    In my case, this happened in late 2008 when there was general concern in financial circles that the US economy was in danger of collapse. At the time, many companies were making decisions to suspend hiring, institute pay cuts, and/or perform layoffs. – Roger Jul 25 '14 at 20:23

Are there background checks? If you fail them, eg you have bad credit history when starting work at a bank, or they catch you lying on your resume (thanks, HLGEM), then obviously you wouldn't be suitable for employment.

Other likely reasons are the same types of things that might get you fired once you have started working there, e.g. Gross misconduct or breach of contract terms.

  • Finding out you lied on your resume. – HLGEM Jul 25 '14 at 19:39
  • Actually I mentioned that the background has not even been conducted yet and the person has not even started working. – sid smith Jul 25 '14 at 20:00
  • @HLGEM - For this question, we can assume that the resume is genuine. – sid smith Jul 25 '14 at 20:01
  • @sidsmith, yours is, but someone reading this later might have that problem. – HLGEM Jul 25 '14 at 20:19

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