Indiana, PA - Indiana County

BOB LANKARD: The art of saying no

on May 05, 2013 3:00 AM

Every job seeker has been advised to send a thank-you letter following an interview. What should you do if you decide that either the company or the job is not for you?

Option 1

Assume someone else will be offered the job. Do not bother with the thank-you letter. In the event you are offered the job, be prepared to decline the offer in a gracious manner.

Some job seekers get satisfaction in refusing a job in a confrontational manner. “I told ’em I wouldn’t work in a dump like that,” they told me. In my 37 years of dealing with employers I have dealt with some disreputable ones. However, I taught not burning bridges rather than confrontation. Simply tell the employer the job is not for you and don’t elaborate on the reasons.

Option 2

Send a standard “thank you for your time” note. Again the odds are in favor of someone else getting the job. What you have accomplished by sending the letter is maintaining a relationship with that company. There may be other jobs in the future or the climate at the company may change.

Finally, the job seeker could thank the interviewer for their time and whatever courtesies they extended. Then the writer should explain that after careful consideration you can see that this position is not a match for you. It is considerate to do this because it will save the company time checking references and going through the mechanics of setting up a benefit program. It keeps the bridge intact in case circumstances change.

Avoid the problem of saying no with early research. In many cases, a job seeker can avoid problems with turning down a job offer by researching the employer, job and potential boss. You should also ask probing questions to determine if the job is a good fit.

Failing to research an employer before applying and having the interview is a big blunder. Networking is an age-old way to learn about working at a firm before the interview. No way should you interview or even accept a job without talking to someone who works there or someone in the community who knows about the business.

If you are considering a retail store, go on a scouting mission. Go to the place as a customer. Do you fit in?

The Internet has certainly changed how a job seeker can research a place of employment. As a minimum, read the company website thoroughly. It will answer many questions before you get to the interview stage.


I have advised job seekers to see the job interview as a two-way street and to interview the boss. There is too much for you to lose by taking a job that is wrong for you.

This all means that you should be evaluating the place to work and the potential boss as much as they are evaluating you.

Consider asking the following questions that I believe will enlighten you without turning the interviewer off:

• What type of work style do you like or dislike in your subordinates?

• What advice would you give me to succeed in your company?

• What do you depend on a person in this position to do?

• How do you feel about staff coming to you with questions?

• Describe your management style.

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