I had an interview at a startup-ish company where they offered me a t-shirt while touring the office. I'm a regular Cayce Pollard and only wear plain black t-shirts and have enough of them (yes... I've read that Marie Kondo book), but I took it anyways. It has since taken its next great journey to Goodwill. This seems inefficient for both me (I had to take it to Goodwill), and for the company (they had to pay for that shirt that I didn't want). Goodwill does come out ahead, so I guess that's some social good achieved.

My question is: is it unreasonable or does it look bad to say "no" to things like this? It's not a huge deal, just wondering if this would look like I wasn't enthusiastic to work at the company (well, it turned out in this case that I was not).

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    "This seems inefficient for both me (I had to take it to Goodwill), and for the company (they had to pay for that shirt that I didn't want)." You are second guessing the company based on your limited knowledge base. It's a lot cheaper to advertise the company by distributing t-shirts than in doing anything else. One of my turnoffs at interview time is when a candidate jumps to conclusions and makes assertions based on the conclusions he jumped to. I don't like it. If you don't want the t-shirt, say no. One of the things your prospective employer will watch out for is how you go about saying no – Vietnhi Phuvan Jan 28 '17 at 0:36
  • Not to mention, just half an hour of one of your interviewer's time is already worth a stack of very nice T-shirts.... you don't seem to have considered this, which leads me to believe you probably didn't show a very appreciative attitude overall. I'm guessing that would be more important in the big picture of whether you look non-enthusiastic or not than what you said in response to their offer of the T-shirt. – Chan-Ho Suh Jan 28 '17 at 5:32
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    @Chan-HoSuh Just to throw this out there, but you really shouldn't be trying to psychoanalyze the OP that much. – user42272 Jan 28 '17 at 7:11

Yes it is rude, it's not a huge deal for you, and they're well aware of the cost. If you don't wanna go to Goodwill you can always make a cleaning rag out of it.

They get the things in bulk and probably costs them no more than a posh cup of coffee a piece. Take the shirt, put it on, say thank you, and then do with it what you will.

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    I think actually putting the shirt on is overboard. – DepressedDaniel Jan 27 '17 at 23:58
  • @DepressedDaniel Could be. If you make it seem spontaneous it might work in your favour. Depends entirely on the situation at hand and the message you wanna send. – rath Jan 28 '17 at 0:28

It is needlessly rude to reject their T-shirt. It is likely that conclusions will be drawn from it - if the guy cannot even graciously accept a present, what will he act like if there is an actual conflict? That is if HR doesn't care about the T-shirt, but just about the behaviour. But if this is a startup, chances are that they are proud of their company, and proud of their company T-shirts, and rejecting it will be seen as an insult.


It's probably not that big of a deal but the time to talk to HR or whoever about handing out T-shirts to prospective employees comes after you get hired, not before. It's unlikely they gave you the shirt because they expect you to wear it to work or anything, but you'd be surprised at how "little" things like turning down a gift might sour a manager towards you. It might not but why take that chance?

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