5 Ways to Know When It’s Time to Turn Down A Job Offer

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When you are in a state of desperation, you’re more likely to make a bad decision. There’s no denying that receiving a job offer feels good. Initially, it makes you feel like all your hard work has paid off, and you’re not the loser you thought you were while on your job hunt.

But not every job is for you and accepting the wrong offer can put you in a worse position than before. You may be saying, “How? A job is a job!” Not necessarily. Is it worth it to accept a job now just to find yourself back on the hunt a few months later because you ignored the signs?

I know that turning down a job offer is easier said than done when you’re on your last dollar, but I want you to stay aware of the red flags. Accepting an offer is an important choice. I’ve accepted positions and found myself regretting my decision within a week, only to feel stuck and unable to quit. You should seriously consider turning down a job offer if:


Every employee experience is different, but as my mother always says, “Everyone can’t be telling the same lie.” It’s safe to assume that if new hires are coming in the door every month, it’s a problem. Reviews have power.

While I don’t fully agree that you should believe 100% of online company reviews, since you’re not aware of the circumstances behind them, I do understand their level of influence. During your interview, keep your eyes and ears open. A company’s morale will come through in your gut feelings about employee tension, the hiring manager’s body language, and the office environment.


In any form of package negotiation, you must know how low you’re willing to go. If the offer fails to reach even your minimum salary requirements, which will negatively impact your quality of life, just say no. Sometimes, companies will offer a low base salary but promise an increase for meeting certain requirements, or they’ll promise to make up the difference in salary with bonuses. In these cases, you may be more inclined to accept, but do yourself a favor and ensure you get the compensation breakdown in writing beforehand.


Timing is everything. Maybe it really is a great opportunity, but you know that you shouldn’t accept because you can’t meet the company’s expectations because of your personal commitments. One of my previous clients was faced with this sort of decision. She interviewed for her dream position as a traveling nursing consultant, but as a single mother with two small children, she knew all that travel wasn’t possible.

Don’t accept a position with the attitude of, “I’ll figure it out.” You’ll just be causing yourself the unnecessary stress of trying to “make it work” and ultimately, you’ll have wasted the company’s time when you have to quit earlier than expected.


You will not know the full scope of your future at a new company during an interview, but there are strategic questions you can ask to give you some idea. For example:

Tell me about your organizational strategy.

How long have you (the interviewer) been in this position, or with the company?

What is the career path for this position?

How long has the position’s direct management team been in their positions?

There are many more questions you can ask that will give you a sense of the company’s prospects. Try to be very specific and ask questions that don’t leave a lot of room for evasive answers.


Follow your intuition. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t ignore red flags. Pay attention to everything you see on your interview, from the receptionist, to the culture, décor, cleanliness, and especially the interviewer’s demeanor.

Your senses will pick up triggers that will tell you that this is not the place for you. Ask to be shown around to get the full picture. If you like quiet but notice that the office feels like a sporting event, then passing on the offer is a no-brainer.

Remember, just because you’re offered a position doesn’t mean you have to accept. If it’s not a fit, it’s not a fit. When you decline, let the company know as soon as possible. Keep your email or call short and sweet, thanking them for their time and possibly leaving the door open to revisit the opportunity in the future. It’s never easy to turn down an offer when you’re feeling desperate, but waiting for the right position is far better than accepting one that’s not right for you.

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