As you build your professional reputation, all of your interactions are important, regardless of the outcome. Even though you are turning down a job offer, your behavior should still reflect qualities that potential employers seek, such as honesty, graciousness and consideration for other people's time and money. Every rung on the ladder to career success is crucial, even if you decide to step over it.
Alert your interviewer as soon as you realize you do not want the job, advises Black Enterprise. The company will need to find another candidate, and making them wait for a negative response sends the impression that you do not care about their time, which could damage a potentially valuable connection in your professional network. For your sake and theirs, don’t lead employers on.
Ear to Ear
The polite thing to do when turning down a job offer is call and speak to your interviewer or HR contact directly. According to "Forbes," responding in writing or leaving a voice mail sends the message that you do not have the courage to face difficult situations. It’s fine to send an official letter declining the position after you break the news in person, but it’s not OK to use a letter to avoid having a discussion about your decision.
Even though you have decided not to accept the job, remain gracious and thankful for the offer. Even though you are not going to work with them now, you may still link professionally down the road. How you handle yourself is crucial to your future success. It’s not just about the job, it’s also about your reputation.
Find a way to kindly and constructively explain why you have decided to turn down the offer. Do not bash the company, its policies or its employees. If you are asked for feedback, instead of talking about what you do not want, focus on what you need. For example, rather than, “You did not offer me enough money,” say, “For me to spend as much time away from home as the position requires, I’d need at least $10,000 more annually than you offered.” Slip in some positive feedback to cushion the blow.
Offer to Help
If you know know someone else who would be good in the position, offer them up, recommends Consult Networx, a national consulting firm. Your interviewer might really respect and appreciate your input since you know exactly what the company is looking for. Also, giving your interviewer a lead to fill your spot can go a long way toward solidifying your professional relationship.