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I recently applied for a new position at a new company. After receiving an offer, I chose to stay at my current company (my current company gave a solid counter offer with a raise and promotion, as well as other things).

A paraphrasing of the turn down went along the lines of:

"I've decided not to accept the offer.Thank you for your time, and your company sounds like a great place to work, but I feel ultimately that is isn't the best place for me."

"I'm sorry to hear that. Is there anything we can do."

"I appreciate that, but I don't think there is anything your company can do."

The next day I received a voice mail asking again if there is anything they can do and why I didn't accept. A couple of questions:

  1. Is the additional phone call rude?
  2. Is there any actual harm in letting them know the reasons?
  3. If I did decide to tell them, should I tell them about the things in their interview process and work environment that were an issue in addition to the counter offer?

Additional notes: I have no intention of accepting any potential offer from them because that sounds greedy, in poor taste, and I don't think they would change the offer to what it would have to be for me to accept now anyways.

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    Were you offended by the additional call? Irritated? Confused? Amused? – Eric Lippert Sep 8 '16 at 18:47
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    Wow. You should know that everything isn't about you. Did it occur to you that the company is doing what they should by trying to find out what it would take to get a candidate which they apparently really want? You should be flattered, not offended. But since they asked, just tell them the truth, whatever that might be. They want to know. Personally, I think you're being somewhat of an ass and they probably dodged a bullet. – Chris E Sep 8 '16 at 19:42
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    @ChristopherEstep I can understand why one might be perturbed by the follow-ups. In the reverse situation, (a candidate being rejected), the candidate is usually not given actionable feedback about why an offer wasn't extended - the response The Composer gave is basically what the potential employer will say. So one might wonder why detailed feedback should be given if it wouldn't be reciprocated. – alroc Sep 8 '16 at 19:47
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    Ok, so you did not think the additional phone call was rude, then why were you asking us to validate if it was rude? If we had said that the phone call was rude, were you going to change your opinion? – Masked Man Sep 9 '16 at 1:38
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    @TheComposer You started a previous comment with "it strikes me as rude" and then followed it with another "I never thought it was rude" and now you say you haven't made up your mind. (!?) Anyway whether this particular recruiter was rude or not doesn't depend on what 90% of other recruiters do. That aside, they made you an offer which you rejected, and they want to know the reason. What exactly is so rude about it? I have to agree with Christopher and Lilienthal on this, when you ask a question here, you don't get entitled to hear only what you want to hear. This is not a echo chamber. – Masked Man Sep 9 '16 at 16:31
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When interviewing people before, if an offer was extended it was our normal practice to inquire as to why, and I was asked the same questions myself when I turned down an offer. Just stating that it was not the right place for me I would not have thought was a full enough answer if I had previously told them I was interested and wanted an offer. If I was the one asking, and got that answer, I would also consider that somewhat a non-answer and take another shot for a more complete answer, but likely only one.

I had two areas on concern when I would ask such questions. First, if I am trying to hire, and get turned down by someone I wanted and who indicated they were interested, I want to know why to see if I can correct it, either for them or another applicant. Was the salary too low, hours bad, atmosphere wrong, did I just get outbid, whatever. I want to know in case it is something I need to fix and can. Second, there is some change you might change your mind. I need to know if I still want to consider you if you come back to me next week and say, hey, I reconsidered and want to accept. If there was not a reasonable cause for you to initially decline, then I really would probably not still honor my offer.

It is usually a reasonable thing for a hiring agent to ask, and somewhat expect an answer after spending a considerable amount of time considering you for a position. There is nothing wrong with just saying what you said here, that your current company countered, and though you were not interviewing as a salary ploy, that the counter was generous and after consideration you felt more comfortable staying with them.

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    I appreciate the advice. I went ahead and let them know, and it was a very positive response. They told me to just let them know if the promotion doesn't pan out the way it is supposed to. – The Composer Sep 8 '16 at 20:09
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    Just nitpicking: "there is come chance you might change your mind". Chance, not change. – bilbo_pingouin Sep 9 '16 at 6:10
  • ...expect an answer after spending a considerable amount of time considering you for a position - The candidate spent a considerable amount of time considering your company for a position, too. – Blrfl Sep 9 '16 at 8:59
  • @Blrfl Did the candidate do so? How would the company know without asking? – Jeroen Sep 9 '16 at 10:13
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    @Jeroen: Of course. It costs candidates time and money to find out about a company, apply, prepare for interviews, get there, do the interviews and consider offers. Other than the intangible good will, a candidate doesn't have a lot to gain by helping the company out any more than the company does telling a candidate why he wasn't hired. – Blrfl Sep 9 '16 at 13:43
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"Rude" may be going a bit too far, but "pushy" sounds about right. All in all, I think the big issue I think you need to contend with is, how does telling these folks why you turned them down help you out here? Were you never really seriously considering the initial offer and were only using it for a counter-offer? If so, then yeah, that's probably something you ought to keep for yourself. In that case I'd stay neutral and say something like "after evaluating everything I just decided that my current position would be better for me" or "I'm really sorry but I don't feel comfortable discussing my motivations at this time".

My experience when someone asks a question like this - admittedly I have not literally been asked why I turned down a new job offer but I've had similar questions asked of me - they are looking for specific objections that they can knock down. That's kind of the essence of sales: "no, because" can be almost as good as "yes" in some situations if the "no, because" is genuine and you can overcome stuff. If it seems unseemly to you that they're treating your employment as a sales opportunity, that's up to you I guess, but I personally would not hold that against a potential employer because the reality is that sales, performed obviously or otherwise, is a big part of the hiring process. If you're willing to be honest with them, feel free to say "my current company decided to give me a counter offer when they learned that I was thinking about moving on." I would be prepared, given that this is part of the give and take of sales, to hear a couple more things...

  • "How about if I offer you X?" My guess is, that's the #1 reason why they're asking you: they like you and fear that you are moving on because they lowballed you a little bit. I think it's perfectly reasonable to respond that you're not willing to get into a bidding war here, but hey, it doesn't hurt to hear them out I guess.

  • "You only got a raise from them because you threatened to walk? Why don't we put a path to promotion in place for you from day one so you don't have to shop around."

  • "Yeah, those guys are going to give you more but consider X!" X being something like "we're a non-profit so you'd be helping to save the world" or "our benefits are great!" or "we have our own foosball table!". If money/recognition really is what's keeping you at your new place, then maybe explain to them why that is (you're raising a family, or you're just recently in a new city and need to get yourself financially stable, etc.), bearing in mind that this will often cause the other party to try and overcome that objection as well. I mean, that's what sales is all about, overcoming objections.

  • "That's what you're about!? Well, we are taking you off our list forever! Good luck ever working for us!!!" I feel like deep down this is probably the scenario you're trying to avoid. The thing is, if they're willing to exclude you for a "wrong" answer, there's a bigger issue there than something you'd be able to avoid by not reacting: either you're really bad at explaining yourself or they're looking for a reason to tell you off anyway.

I think the bottom line here is, they're still trying to sell you on their company and whether that's rude or not is a little bit up to you (and of course up to body language, verbal tone, and so on - for all I know this guy really was rude when they contacted you, it's just not manifest in the information which was presented).

  • No, the guy was polite in the voicemail. I'm just pretty young, and I was trying to get a gauge on what is common practice. Even though I found it irritating that he ignored my email in the phone call, I'm not mad at him or knocking the company for it. A lot of friends have suggested I shouldn't tell the company I was applying to why I decided not to join, but I haven't been able to come up with any real reason why it would be damaging to anyone. If it isn't damaging, then I'd like to help the guy out, by answering. – The Composer Sep 8 '16 at 19:42
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The simple answer: Tell them what you told us.

I recently applied for a new position at a new company. After receiving an offer, I chose to stay at my current company (my current company gave a solid counter offer with a raise and promotion, as well as other things).

If they made you an offer, they thought you were a good candidate and worth pursuing. They want to know how they can attract talent like yours in the future. This is a very reasonable question.

You gave them precisely nothing to work with:

"I've decided not to accept the offer.Thank you for your time, and your company sounds like a great place to work, but I feel ultimately that is isn't the best place for me."

Instead, consider telling them openly and honestly what you have told us. No need to burn bridges.


Perhaps you could say something like:

Thank you very much for offering me this position. My current company has given me an excellent counter-offer with a raise and a promotion, which I am very happy with, and I have decided to continue my work here. I appreciate the time you took in interviewing me, and, should my situation change at some future point, I would be very happy to reapply for your company as I really like what I have seen there.

This is rough and unpolished, but to the extent that it is accurate and honest, it is still much better than the information you provided to them.

  • I wouldn't mention that my company counter-offered. It's none of their business and many people don't like job candidates who do this. No reason to give yourself a bad reputation. – user8365 Sep 9 '16 at 21:19
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    @JeffO, I like the clarification included in the accepted answer: "There is nothing wrong with just saying what you said here, that your current company countered, and though you were not interviewing as a salary ploy, that the counter was generous and after consideration you felt more comfortable staying with them." Providing this is honest, I don't think it should give you a bad reputation in the view of any reasonably minded person. – Wildcard Sep 9 '16 at 22:06
  • "Provided this is honest" is not the conclusion many people jump to in job negotiations. Almost all companies will never tell a candidate why they don't hire them. They do this because there is no upside and could be used against them in a discrimination lawsuit. I wish honesty was rewarded in the workplace, especially in the job search process, but negotiators just hold all information very close. – user8365 Sep 17 '16 at 16:50
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I think it's okay to tell them. They may use it to improve their chances of getting another qualified candidate. Like maybe they aren't offering enough, or have one of those everyone sits at one big table environments..it would good for them to know if that's putting people off.

I had an odd experience a bit ago. A recruiter told me a job paid X, which was a good jump from where I am now. I had an in person interview..I wasn't thrilled with it but thought it might be ok. Then after the in person interview with the client he comes back saying they'd be more comfortable with (what I am making now). He said they want me to 'prove myself' and 'prove you are not motivated by money'. So many things wrong with that. The way he put it was just really offensive too (I'm a senior person in a very in demand area). So I said I didn't want to pursue it further, and the recruiter called me a couple more times, wondering what he could do to change my mind, like it was a mystery why I dropped out. I ended up telling his associate that I also spoke to why I dropped out.

  • Recruiter's are 90% awful. – The Composer Sep 9 '16 at 15:17

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