employer berated me after I turned down their job offer

A reader writes:

I first want to thank you for all of your advice. I’ve been struggling to find work since graduating last year, but the tips I have picked up from your site have led to an increase in interviews and finally two job offers on the same day!

Here is where my story gets weird. I had these two job offers and thought them over carefully. I thought both were very pleasant interviews and I got along well in both cases, but one place was more in line with what I want to do. I sent a polite e-mail to the other place to let them know that I would have to decline their offer, that I didn’t feel it was quite the right fit for me, and that I wished them the best in finding someone.

A few hours after sending the e-mail, the hiring manager called me up and said she was “somewhat shocked” that I didn’t accept their offer, that she thought we had a good rapport in the interview, and that she wanted to know why I wasn’t accepting. I didn’t want to tell her about taking the other job because I felt it wasn’t her business, so I just reiterated the “fit” point. She kept peppering me with questions, saying she thought I was enthusiastic about the job in my interview (implying that I was faking it), and wondering if I would reconsider if she raised the salary and would like to “just try” working for them. I resisted the urge to hang up and block her number but just kept politely telling her no. She ended the call huffily, something like “well FINE, we’ll get someone else.”

Is this absolutely weird? What did she want to hear from me besides “no” over and over again? Did I handle the situation adequately?

Yes, it’s weird. It’s silly her to be “shocked” that you didn’t accept their offer, unless you’d been telling her during the interview that this was your dream job and that you’d leap at the chance for it. Even then though, shocked? That’s a bit much. Realistic interviewers know that candidates are generally pursuing other positions as well, and that good ones may have more than one offer. And her huffy ending is really over the top.

That said, I’ve worked with managers who do seem to think that any candidate who goes through the trouble of interviewing would of course accept an offer, as long as agreement can be reached on salary. This reflects a troubling misunderstanding of what good hiring is all about, since an interview process should be about assessing fit on both sides, not just one-way. But wrong-headed or not, that view is out there.

But your hiring manager went beyond that mindset and actually interrogated you — practically berated you, it sounds like. And that’s legitimately weird.

Now, all that aside, I am curious about why you didn’t just tell her that you were accepting another offer. You were under no obligation to tell her that, of course, but since it’s the truth — and an easily understandable explanation of why you were turning her down — why not mention it? And admittedly, attributing it to “fit” does raise natural questions — I’d be interested in knowing more if a candidate who I thought was a strong fit didn’t share that opinion, because it would be helpful for me to know for the future where my thinking might have been off-base. Or if, say, someone they’d interviewed with had been a jerk to them.

But she should have graciously accepted no for an answer.

{ 57 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    I think that sometimes our expectations for managers are too high. The can be very dysfunction.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think you’re on to something there — there are people who are dysfunctional, incompetent and/or socially awkward in all walks of life, including in manager roles. So sometimes if you’re wondering, “is this manager behaving really oddly?” the answer is simply YES, this is not an especially well-adjusted person.

      It’s easy to forget this, I think.

  2. Anonymous*

    As an undergrad I once tentatively agreed to an internship for a professor (not my prof, thank goodness). We met for what should have been an interview and instead he just started giving me work to do (it was a take home kind of thing) and I was caught off guard and took the work (I realize now I should have thought more carefully). After realizing I didn’t really have the time to do it I let him know, just a few hours after our meeting, that I was sorry and that I wouldn’t be able to do the internship due to time etc. He responded by giving me a very hostile phone call in which he accused me of lying and was generally just incredibly rude. He wouldn’t let it go, he just kept going on and on about how horrible I was. It was the rudest, most uncomfortable phone call I’ve ever experienced.

  3. Mike C.*

    Looks like someone is happy they listened to the red flags that were found. Care to comment as to what tipped you off that there might be trouble down the road?

    1. Anonymous*

      Hello, I am the OP. The main thing that concerned me was the person whose position I was filling had quit after only a month on the job, and the interviewer couldn’t hide her bitterness about it. Two screaming red flags right there.

  4. Josh S*

    I think honesty would have been the best policy in this case–just tell the hiring manager that you have accepted another offer rather than make a fib (or stretch the truth).

    If, in some future situation, you decide that you do want to work for the other company, this hiring manager may remember you when she sees your resume. And she may think, “I wasted my time on this one before and she dropped me at the end. Not going through that again!” (I don’t think it’s a waste of time, but she may. And she may ignore your genuine interest in a particular job at the company because of the past experience.) And even if you decide not to go to that company again, you never know where the hiring manager may move, or who she might influence behind the scenes.

    If you’re honest, she can say, “Oh well. The other company beat us this time; we’ll keep the candidate’s name on file.” Then, if/when you apply for some other position, you’re gold. If you claim it’s a matter of ‘fit,’ she may always harbor questions about YOU as a person, rather than just a point in time where the timing was bad.

    Just my $.02 to consider.

    1. Melissa*

      The original poster did not fib, nor did he/she stretch the truth. He/she decided that it was none of the interviewer’s business to know that he/she had accepted another offer. What people choose to share about themselves is their business and it doesn’t have to be everyone’s business. Granted, it might have been easier to shut her up if the OP had simply said, “I’ve accepted another offer, thank you for the opportunity to interview with your company”, but the OP chose not to do this and that was his/her choice to make. There was no fib and there was no stretching of the truth. The OP didn’t think he/she would fit with that company so he/she picked the other job! It’s as simple as that. I remember when I toured colleges. I made arrangements to tour each college with someone from the admissions office. When I was done and had made my decision, I called the colleges I was turning down to let them know. One admissions officer in particular completely LOST IT on the phone. As far as she was concerned, she had invested time in me, toured me around, answered questions and basically tried to “sell” that college to me. She was rude, mean and could not believe I wasn’t going to go to school there. That was over 25 years ago and I still remember that phone call! But guess what? That was her JOB! And certainly there were plenty of other people who had toured the school and then accepted an offer to go to another school. (I can’t honestly believe I was the only one). I think sometimes people are just frustrated when they spend time and energy on something that they think is going to work out and it doesn’t. So they get upset when they are turned down ….. some more than others. And I honestly think that even if the OP had shared the fact that he/she had taken another job, the hiring manager would may still have “lost it” and called the OP anyway, asking why he/she didn’t go with that company instead of the other company. Staying calm in the face of adversity is the true measure of one’s character.

      1. Josh S*

        OK–not a lie of comission, but a lie of omission, then.

        The truth: She took another offer because of a variety of reasons.
        The reason she gave: I decline because your company isn’t a good fit (which is probably true, but leaves out the main reason).
        The (intentional) impression this gives to the listener: My option was to take this job or keep on looking, and I decided that this job simply wasn’t worth having, even without other options for gainful employment.

        Now, she didn’t say anything that was untrue, but it certainly doesn’t convey the truth. That *is* the OP’s prerogative, but choosing to present things in that manner may have consequences for later on.

        My concern is less about “shutting up” the hiring manager, but rather keeping a door open/not burning a bridge. In this case, being straightforward makes it more likely that jobs at the company will remain open to the OP in the future (IMO).

        I agree with you that ‘staying calm in the face of adversity’ is a great trait to have and demonstrate. And if the hiring manager gets irate or asks about specific reasons for choosing one company over the other, you can be honest again. If it’s a matter of compensation, you might get a stronger offer. If it’s a matter of fit/atmosphere/boss, I’m sure that a manager would want to know about the perception of the company so they can improve and make their company/division more attractive to talented workers.

        Tactful but honest feedback is completely appropriate. Again, it’s not necessary, but IMO it leaves the best impression for the purposes of maintaining a future relationship with that company.

        You are, of course, free to disagree. I prefer to keep my options open, particularly in these difficult times…

        1. Mike C.*

          If the hiring manager is going to start berating someone, the bridge is already burned. Having to disclose the private details of one’s personal life (and yes, business deals with other parties are private matters!) to simply appease a potential future employer is really out of the question.

          An adult would have said, “that’s a shame, but I understand. best of luck”. This isn’t an adult and shouldn’t be treated as one.

          1. Laura*

            I agree with Josh. I’m not saying that a rational adult would have reacted poorly to having a job offer refused, but at the same time, why bother being secretive? If it’s not more honest to simply tell the manager you’re accepting another job, it’s definitely more open. There’s nothing wrong with taking another job, because you feel like it, so why not just say that you are taking another job offer? It’s definitely easier, and the hiring manager has most certainly interviewed more than one candidate, so it’s realistic that candidates are applying to more than one job.

            I don’t see the big deal with being open about things like this. In a person, openness is a good quality. If I were this hiring manager, I too would question why a candidate would refuse a job offer. The candidate expressed an interest in the position and the company by applying and than invested their personal time into attending an interview. If I thought the interview had went well, I would wonder why the candidate had changed their mind. A vague response about ‘fit’ would definitely make me all the more curious. I can’t say I would be upset, because I would likely just move to the next best candidate, but I doubt I would only ask once why the job was refused if the answer was, “It’s just not a good fit”. Well, the ‘fit’ was fine to apply, and when an interview was requested the ‘fit’ was still ok, so what changed?

            Ultimately, it doesn’t make sense for the interviewer to be upset about it, because it is your personal choice, and the fact that she got upset would likely discourage any type of openness, but being honest from the beginning and mentioning that you had already accepted an offer elsewhere, kind of prevents any further arguement as there is nothing to be gained.

            1. Mike C.*

              You’re asking the wrong question.

              It’s not the place of a hiring manager to demand why a job was not accepted. They have no right (legally, morally or ethically) to such information. It doesn’t matter why the applicant is being “secretive”, because it’s a private matter. That overrides any sort of concerns you have about your personal comfort levels or the need for natural curiosity to be satisfied. It doesn’t matter that you cannot immediately see why the applicant didn’t give a full dissertation on why one job was chosen over another. Maybe these people were perceived to be crazy. Maybe after a long job search the applicant simply wanted to close the door on the process. Maybe the applicant was celebrating the occasion with excess alcohol and other adult activities and didn’t want to be further bothered. Who are any of us to judge what reasons are good and what reasons are not?

              You or Josh need to justify why your personal comfort levels set the standard for everyone else, or why the curiosity of the hiring manager overrides the personal privacy and judgement of the applicant.

              Keep in mind, job applicants have no right to ask why they were never offered a position. They can certainly ask, and they can certainly be ignored.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Laura, often you won’t know if something is a good fit or not until after the interview — part of the point of the interview is to learn more about the work, the culture, the management style, etc. In fact, it’s pretty hard to have a good idea about fit until you’re done interviewing.

              People shouldn’t assume a candidate definitely wants the job just because they came to the interview!

            3. Josh S*

              I agree with AAM–the interview process is a two-way street. If you show up in the suit & tie that you’ve been wearing for the past 10 years and your interviewer has jeans and a t-shirt (or vice versa) you might not want to work there.

              There’s a lot more that you can tell just by being in a place and talking to a couple people for an hour or two than you could ever tell from a website or reviews. Likewise, the interview gives you a chance to find out the details about the job that aren’t on th job posting. Reserve judgment on a company/position/job til you have been there. It can speak volumes.

          2. Josh S*

            (I’m responding to you here instead of below because I don’t think it allows threads to go too many levels deep. I don’t see a “reply” link below…)

            Mike C said @3:47pm:
            “You or Josh need to justify why your personal comfort levels set the standard for everyone else, or why the curiosity of the hiring manager overrides the personal privacy and judgement of the applicant.”

            Josh S said @10:23am:
            “Tactful but honest feedback is completely appropriate. Again, it’s not necessary, but IMO it leaves the best impression for the purposes of maintaining a future relationship with that company.
            You are, of course, free to disagree. I prefer to keep my options open, particularly in these difficult times…”

            I never suggested that my personal comfort levels set a standard for anyone else. I was simply attempting to explore what I perceive to be a better option. If you disagree, you are free to do so. Best of luck in your career and maintaining relationships.

            You suggest that the hiring manager had no right to ask about the reasons for declining the offer, since it’s a ‘private’ matter. I disagree. The hiring manager has every right to ask–it might be a matter of wanting to improve her company or its public perception, and NOT just idle curiosity. Likewise, the candidate has every right to decline to answer.

            I simply believe the honest, straightforward approach is better. Here’s why.

            Scenario I:
            Candidate: I’m sorry to inform you that I am declining your offer.
            Hiring manager: [surprised] Oh! I’m surprised. Why is that?
            C: I didn’t believe it was a good fit.
            HM: So…you’re declining a job offer and continuing with your job search because of a ‘fit’ that you haven’t even experienced yet? There MUST be something else. Is it the money? We can give you more money. What is it? [proceeds to freak out]
            C: Nope. Just not a good fit. [gets real uncomfortable]
            Relationship between C & HM: C will never have another interview at the company, or any company that HM works for…

            Scenario II:
            Candidate: I’m sorry to inform you that I am declining your offer.
            Hiring manager: [surprised] Oh! I’m surprised. Why is that?
            C: I accepted another offer.
            HM: Was it the money? What was the reason?
            C: Well, the position was a better fit…
            Relationship between C & HM: HM realizes that the company lost out and may try to head-hunt C. Certainly if C applies with HM in the future, it will be somewhat congenial.

            Scenario III:
            Candidate: I’m sorry to inform you that I am declining your offer.
            Hiring manager: [surprised] Oh! I’m surprised. Why is that?
            C: I accepted another offer.
            HM: Was it the money? What was the reason?
            C: Well, the position was a better fit…
            HM: [freaks out]
            Relationship: C & HM are still on bad terms, but at least C knows she did everything possible to not be the ‘bad guy’.

            Again, you have every right of being private, but it marks you as the odd one. There’s no down side to sharing the truth. If you’re not comfortable with that, I guess that’s your call. I just don’t see the practical reason for doing so.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yeah, it only lets you leave replies a couple of levels deep, because otherwise after that the column would get really narrow. Sorry about that!

              Anyway, what would you say to an instance where the real reason WAS fit? In some cases, you could easily say “I’m more comfortable in a more structured culture and as I got to know the company, I realized it’s more relaxed and free-flowing than what I thrive in.” But if the fit you were concerned about was something like the manager is a jerk or you simply had a bad gut feeling about the culture (both potentially good reasons to decline an offer), would you advocate being candid about that? In that situation, I’d probably say something like, “Your company seems great, but I’m really holding out for the right fit for me, and I don’t think this is quite a match with what I’m looking for,” and would expect the employer not to push back too much.

            2. Josh S*

              Agreed. Tactful, but direct. If the real reason was ‘fit’ (defined as, “Wow the manager is a crazy freak”), I’d suggest something just like what you said:
              “I appreciate your offer, but I’m not convinced this is a place that I would be comfortable working for the long term. I’d like to be fair to your organization, so I will be passing at this time.”

            3. Anonymous*

              I’d like to be fair to your organization, so I will be passing at this time.

              Funnily enough, I had to use a similar line to shoo away a manager who couldn’t believe I was turning her down. Although in my particular case, the fit was one of salary bracket, and the mismatch was so insultingly large as not to be worth negotiating.

  5. Peter*

    If the OP thought that both the interviews went well then the manager might have thought that as well, and perhaps the impression that the manager got was that all details have been ironed out during that interview and that it only was a matter of the paperwork.

    If the OP was only repeating the “fit” thing, then it would be natural that the manager would like to know what exactly it is that the company can do better.

    Obviously, I don’t know the tone of the interview and of that phone call but to me it feels like the OP is overreacting, by not wanting to answer the question with the most natural “I was happy to receive the job offer from you but as a matter of fact, I just received another one from different company and the position there is slightly more focused on X which I’d prefer to get better in the upcoming years”. That way the manager would know that the OP was not wasting their time but that they lost to another employer, and who knows, they might be happy to call the OP in a year when their competitor trained him/her in X, and headhunt.

    I agree with Josh S here.

    1. Anonymous*

      OP here. I can’t really put my finger why I didn’t tell her about the other job, it was just a gut feeling that it would be a bad idea. And the way she called me up and interrogated me just verified that my gut was right.

      1. Josh S*

        I’m all about trusting your gut.

        I still stand by my general idea that being honest and forthright is the better policy (all things equal), but if you’re getting a creepy vibe, it makes sense to play things close to the vest.

        Congrats on multiple offers and your new job!

  6. Angela C.*

    Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you writing this blog.

    While not currently in the market for a new job, your tips on dealing with coworkers are honest, and right to the point.

    Thank you again.

  7. Anonymous*

    During my last job search, I was told off, neither by the hiring manager nor anybody I had met face-to-face, but by the HR recruiter half-way across the country. (I’m in the midwest. He was on the east coast. The job was local to me, but their HR department was located elsewhere.)

    I had been through two rounds of interviews, and I called to cancel the next set that were with the big dogs. Why? I already had an offer that I was going to accept. I let him know that. “But you haven’t even heard our offer? We were going to offer you X.” (where X was about $20k more than the one I accepted.)

    Didn’t make a difference to me. This company was in an area with a significantly higher cost of living. This company had negative stockholder equity if you discounted goodwill. This company was looking to hire because they were moving from the west coast to the midwest, and their entire team quit.

    He continued by telling me that I was making a huge mistake. His company was the best one happening in .

    His rant made me feel even better about my choice. Nine years later, I’m still at the company I chose over his. I think I made the right call. :)

  8. Joey*

    I think it’s kinda wimpy that you emailed instead of called to turn down the offer. I know that would have turned me off

    1. Anonymous*

      The hiring manager and I are both relatively young, and most of our communication was through e-mail. I don’t see what’s weird about that. (OP)

      1. Mikey*

        See, that is exactly what I was thinking. The hiring manager is relatively young — and perhaps is new to the position, lacks experience, is less than mature, or all three.

        I’d giving the hiring manager the benefit of the doubt and move on. After all, does it really matter?

      2. fposte*

        Yeah, our offers, acceptances, and rejections in both directions are all via email. It’s just one of those organizational culture things.

        1. Joey*

          This is off topic, but whatever happened to talking to people? Wouldn’t you rather get a phone call from a real live person instead of an email? Isnt it more personal when a manager actually talks to you about things like job rejection or other bad news. I say that because I’ve seen so many managers that struggle tremendously with difficult conversations but have no problem being blunt when they are hiding behind their keyboard.

            1. Joey*

              I saw that post but I think that once managers mail or email a boring form letter most follow up by the candidates for feedback gets lost in a black hole. In my experience managers are more willing to offer feedback when they call. But it only works when they call the candidate otherwise they’re caught off guard and revert to some standard robot answer.

            2. Diane*

              I’d rather have an email rejection with an invitation to contact the writer with questions so I have time to think and respond. I’ve gotten phoned rejections, and all I can do is stammer a polite thanks, rather than graciously thank them for their time and ask for any suggestions. But I need time to process, and I like to write. Your mileage and comfort may vary (YMACMV).

          1. fposte*

            In general, no, I wouldn’t rather get a phone call. I had a supremely horrible rejection phone call that helps firm my belief on this. “More personal” is not always desirable.

          2. Anonymous*

            I have to call people with the bad news (culture thing) and I can tell you that it’s hideously uncomfortable for both of us every time. I have 12 other people to call, so it’s not the time for me to give feedback (if there’s even any to give). And the rejectee is struggling to hide his or her disappointment (or not, which is even harder). I’ve been on both ends, and I would rather have an email any day. Let me have my reaction privately and then follow up with a thank you for interviewing me when I’m ready in a few hours.

  9. Benjamin McCall*

    interesting situation. I think it is also interesting to point out how very ironic this is. Parallel to the way many candidates react when they are turned down by a company or hiring manager.

    1. Anonymous*

      I was actually getting ready to post the exact same thing. And you know what? I’m totally on the side of the LW on this one. She can divulge as little as much as she wants; how the manager reacts says more about the manager than the candidate. (People talk about burning bridges… who wants to work for a manager like that, and if that manager moves on, who is going to remember the LW?)

  10. wits*

    I agree with AAM’s response. I consider myself an extremely private person, but I don’t understand wanting to keep the fact that you chose another position a secret.

    1. Mike C.*

      I trust that the LW had good reasons for doing so and I don’t see any reason to question that judgement.

  11. Leigh*

    I got a “shocked” reaction once when turning down a job, although not quite as rude as what the OP got. I had two offers on the same day and the salaries were equal, but I’d been temping at one of the companies and thought it would be a better fit. When I called to turn down the other offer, the manager harangued me a bit about my reasons (and I did tell them I was taking another offer), and even insinuated that was trying to get more money out of them! I told him flat out, the money isn’t the issue, and by that point it wasn’t–I felt uncomfortable with the way the phone call was going and was even more convinced that Company 1 was the better fit.

    I have been at this job for over five years now and have never once regretted my decision.

  12. Anonymous*

    Even if the OP had said he/she accepted another offer, that’s no guarantee the hiring manager would have let it go. In fact it could have agitated her even more wondering what this other company had that her’s didn’t. Even if the OP was in the wrong (which as far as I can tell was not the case) that’s no excuse for the manager to have that reaction. That sort of reaction is unprofessional and reflects poorly on the company.

    By the way, I don’t see why the “fit” reason isn’t sufficient; you spend hours at work and should (ideally) feel comfortable there and happy about the job you’re doing. If the job/company doesn’t feel right for you, for whatever reason, that seems like a good enough reason to turn down a job.

  13. Bob G.*

    This sounds like the same kind of manager that takes it personal when someone quits too. I understand it is difficult to lose an employee but sometimes it is just time to move on. I’ve seen many managers at a loss trying to understand why anyone would ever quit “after all we’ve done for them”. I recently offered a job to someone, they accepted, and then I never heard from them again. I tried to reach them one time to see what was going on but they didn’t respond. I just moved on and started interviewing again, this manager needs to just move on.

  14. Anonymous*

    Sounds like you made a good choice with going with the other offer. I think the manager who you spoke with on the phone is just terrible at moving on and accepting this fact that stuff like this happens despite the economy. I can see how managers feel upset when good employees leave or someone who seemed really fit does not take the offer, but that’s as far as a competant manager should go.

  15. Anon y. mouse*

    Wow, sounds like the OP dodged a bullet there! What a nasty manager.

    My momma always taught me that you don’t owe anyone an explanation for saying ‘no’, whether it’s to a social invitation, job offer, or solicitor. It’s generally polite to do so, but it’s not required, especially if the other party doesn’t want to take no for an answer and keeps pushing you. No means no, thank you very much!

    I’d have done the same thing as the OP if I were in her shoes. I probably wouldn’t have had a problem telling a polite hiring manager that I’d accepted another offer, but the hiring manager in this case wasn’t polite, she was upset and acting inappropriately for the situation. I think it was wise to avoid telling her anything she didn’t already know.

  16. Wilton Businessman*

    There’s millions of aholes in this world. The odds are pretty good that you’ll end up working for one at some time or another. Feel lucky that you dodged the bullet…this time.

  17. Anonymous J*

    I think this hiring manager’s reaction is, if nothing else, a good indication that you made the right choice. What her behavior says to me is they seem desperate to fill that role, and based on your story, I’m guessing she’s the reason!

    I wonder if her employer is aware she may be driving candidates away–not in your case, but possibly in others?

    Congrats on the offer you did take!

    As to why the OP didn’t just tell the truth: If she was berated like this for offering the “not a good fit” reason, can you IMAGINE the level of crazy she might have gotten if she HAD told the truth?

  18. Joe*

    This reminds me of one of my favorite job hunting stories: the recruiter who was trying to place me at Big Investment Company. I told him right off the bat that I didn’t want to work in finance, and that I knew I could make more money there, but there were things more important to me than money. But he was very pushy, and I decided that it never hurt to interview, maybe I’d like it more than I thought, and if nothing else, it would be good practice for other interviews. So I relented, and agreed to interview. Then he scheduled a phone interview for two weeks later, which was quite a while to wait just for a phone screen, but I was in no hurry for this job, since I wasn’t that gung-ho about it, so I didn’t mind. And before the two weeks were up, I had gone on some other interviews, and got an offer from another company that I decided to accept.

    Here’s where it gets interesting. I called the recruiter back and told him I had decided to take another offer, so I was withdrawing from the interview he had scheduled. He went ballistic. He started telling me that NOBODY bails out on Big Investment Company, that they were the best place that anyone could possibly work, that if I worked there for six months I could write my ticket anywhere, and that this was my last chance to work there, because they were ageist, and if I didn’t get a job there now, I would be too old by the next time I needed a job. He then asked me where I was going to be working instead, and I made the mistake of telling him, and that just set him off again. He started ranting about how I was pissing my life away, how I’d be lucky to ever get a job again after working there, how I would live to rue the day I turned down Big Investment Company for this other job. Finally, I got sick of it, and just hung up on him.

    I thought that was the end of it, but no. An hour later, I get an email from him telling me that it wasn’t too late to change my mind, and including links to articles about how Big Investment Company had just had their most profitable year ever, and how everyone there was getting rich, and he also claimed the other company I was taking the job at was going to be out of business within a few months. I hit the delete key after looking through it.

    I thought that was the end of it, but no. A few minutes later, he calls me again, and asks if I got his email. I made the mistake of not hanging up on him right away, and instead said that I had. He starts ranting again about how there must be something wrong with me if I still took the other job after seeing that information, and didn’t I realize what I was doing to myself, and I would regret this for the rest of my life. So I hung up on him.

    I thought that was the end of it, but no. He calls me again the next day. Yes, really. As soon as he identified himself, I told him I didn’t want to talk to him any more, and hung up, so I have no idea what rant I would have been subjected to this time. And that was finally the end of it.

    (And for the record, I don’t think he was employed directly by Big Investment Company, which is why I’ve declined to name them here. I think he was just a headhunter who placed people there sometimes.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I love the juxtaposition of “they were the best place that anyone could possibly work” with “this was my last chance to work there, because they were ageist.”

      Also, hearing that you hung up on him two days in a row was quite satisfying to me.

  19. Rachel*

    “Now, all that aside, I am curious about why you didn’t just tell her that you were accepting another offer.”

    Usually, for normal, rational people, that might be a pretty reasonable thing to do. However, this particular hiring manager’s behaviour showed that they were neither normal nor rational. Had the OP informed this hiring manager that he’d accepted another competing job offer, something tells me that the exact same personality traits that made the hiring manager argue the toss about all the other reasonable reasons they’d been given for the OP rejecting their offer, would have led them to argue about the wisdom of accepting another job offer too.

    It’s really none of the hiring manager’s business what the OP’s full and frank reasons for rejection were, and to have overstepped the boundaries of reasonable persuasion in the way that they did tells me that the OP made exactly the right choice in not revealing any more of their personal plans for the future than they chose to. This concept cuts both ways: I’m quite certain that most if not all hiring managers wouldn’t put up with candidates they’d rejected trying to argue that the hiring manager made a wrong/unwise decision in not accepting them. Nor would they dream of entertaining an offer from a rejected candidate to work for less money. Neither too would most hiring managers tell rejected candidates who got the job they had applied for, or why they were better candidates than them. The same goes for rejected employers as it does for rejected candidates: 1) don’t expect people who turn your job offers to explain their decision to the nth degree, 2) don’t think that offering more money will make a rejected offer seem more appealing (unless the candidate has told you that is what the specific problem is), and, 3) don’t expect candidates to let you know which other employer they chose instead of you, or why their offer was more appealing than yours.

  20. Anonymous*

    What about if you turned down the job and then that hiring manager turned around and told other companies you turned them down. That happend to me and I don’t know what I can do about it. I am currently a healthcare consultant and was offered a job for a competitior. I declined because they did not want to match my current salary. The hiring manager then told my current clients I rejected thier offer. I say that is wrong.

  21. Brightwanderer*

    Old thread, I know, but that kind of reaction always makes me wonder if the person has impulsively done something that puts _them_ in an awkward position – like maybe she’d already gone ahead and told the other candidates they didn’t get the place, or told her manager the OP had accepted, or otherwise assumed a positive response in some way that means she is now going to look bad when she has to correct her actions. I’ve run into a it a few times when people got really upset about something for no apparent reason – a bit of digging revealed that they’d overstepped themselves and they now needed someone else to follow through on their expectations to avoid taking a fall.

  22. Siva*

    Here is another point of view. I am a business owner. You were not true on the phone when she asked “why?”, even though it may be argued that “not fit” may not be a false answer.

    If you had the guts to say, ” I got a better offer” there it would have ended. If the HR guy insisted on asking “we can offer a better one too, let us know the details” then i would have said (if I was not interested in them)….”Sorry I am ok with this offer”…and he would have kept the phone.

    Instead you gave some other answers which only leads to questions by an angry and frustrated HR guy who it seems had take it personally as if a boy has rejected a “she-thinks-herself-pretty” girl’s offer. Two things from his point of view
    a) feeling of rejection, not worthy
    b) feeling betrayal since he might have developed hopes during the interview because you were not diplomatic enough

    It happens to me so many times, I spend so much time, energy, feelings and find a good guy, the interview goes very well and now I started dreaming of my company becoming like GE electrical. and then this guy sends me email and sends me a “dumb a#$%” email
    with a dishonest and irrelevant reason.

    Why are not people honest?
    – I went home and my wife said not to take this offer
    – Another company gave me 50 cents more per hour so I had taken that job
    – I actually did not liked your face during the interview, it stuck me later, even though I smiled at you a lot, I am a bit retarded-retarded.

    I agree that the HR guy’s reaction was not professional, but very human. People forget that we are humans first and then professionals…

    I just say “to hell with …and fu…k you…” to the guys who do this to me in my heart. But send them a very decent email…

    “I have completed the offer letter package for you and planning to mail today. If you have any concerns or questions that will help you to reconsider please let me know. You can pursue your interest working for . If earnings are your concern we can work it out. Would like to hear from you.”

    The above is my reply one is because he said he wanted to be a full time hobbyist” I just sent it an hour ago and here I am.

  23. Tony*

    I’ve always had a hard-time turning down a job offer. Sometimes it feels like the employer just forces the job onto you without giving you an option to reject. It’s just so uncomfortable. In the end it’s something that has to be handled if you don’t want the job anymore. I have turned down jobs politely and gracefully as possible with a phone call or email. Sometimes no matter how nice you are the employer just gets anal about it and there isn’t much you can do.
    I usually go with my gut and it says not to take the job than I won’t. No matter how desperate I am if it’s really that bad than I will turn it down.

  24. S*

    I was unsolicitedly sought out by a recruiter from a well-known staffing agency. She flaked on our first phone call which I am OK with but it seems the door swings only one way and hits candidates on the way out.

    Within the next week of various emails, she sent one berating me for not responding to her fast enough. “Please get back to me asap when trying to schedule interviews. It makes it seem like you are not interested in the job to the client with this delay.” I was on two other interviews that day and got back to her in an otherwise timely manner.

    She set up an interview for me –supposed to be a phone call but turned into an in-person interview without my prior knowledge or consent. Followed within two hours by an email with several question marks asking if I got the first one. The interview felt neutral to me and I continued to explore my options.

    To my surprise, the client wanted me for the role and the high-pressure used car sales tactics came out. Her boss called me, demanding instant acceptance to their offer. In the time that had transpired since the interview, I was making other plans. Although I had been interested on Monday I wasn’t by Wednesday and declined the offer to explore other avenues. They were incredulous and made no attempt to hide their feelings.

    After an uncomfortable phone call with her boss, his junior emailed me from her private email address, Subject: “Hi”. Highlights of this missive include, “[NAME WITHHELD] let me know you declined the Job…It’s all news to me and find it frustrating that you lacked to tell me. I never would’ve submitted your resume to our client if I knew…It makes us look really bad.”

    Guess what: and offer isn’t an obligation and a professional behaves as such, no matter what.

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