It can be a lengthy process from the point of submitting your resume and application to receiving a job offer. There's likely been several rounds of communication with the employer over the telephone and in-person, so when you come to the point of having to decline a job offer, it can feel awkward and difficult. It's natural to feel that way, but that should not stop you from communicating your decision gracefully and professionally.
Use the Phone
The employer has invested time and energy to consider you for the job. Show professionalism and respect by responding back to the employer with your decision to decline the job offer over the telephone. The employer will want to understand why you've made this decision and it will help bring closure to the entire process, according to a 2013 Forbes article on declining job offers. The article also advises to remain positive by not voicing anything negative about the organization.
An employer selecting you for the job wants to know that it made the right decision in choosing you even if you decide to decline the job offer. Express your sincere appreciation for the time and consideration given to you and for the extension of the job offer. It helps hiring managers feel more at ease knowing time was well spent on a candidate well-suited and professional for the job.
Leave the Door Open
Even when you are declining a job offer, making an effort to leave the door open for future consideration and communication is a wise move, according to a Financial Times article on rejecting job offers. "Forbes" contributor Trudy Steinfeld also recommends sending a LinkedIn invitation to the interviewers to make staying in contact easier, especially if it is an organization you might cross paths with in the future.
Put It in Writing
When you decline a job offer, there should be more than a phone call to the employer. Put your decision in writing via email or postal mail after the initial discussion. The letter can reiterate your appreciation for their time and consideration, your reason for declining, and your interest in maintaining contact. This additional effort further expresses the care and thought you've given to the employer and the job offer.