Declining job offers

17 April 2019
Things related to the changing of jobs, in particular the fact that I am even looking for a new role, is is something that I prefer to be hush-hush about until after the fact. However today I did something that I have not done before — I turned a job offer down. The nearest thing to turning down job offers before now was turning down Ph.D funding grants, but those were were something like 15 years ago and are not quite the same. I only got the offer yesterday evening, but circumstances meant I could not do anything other than promptly decline it.

Beyond expectation

Because the interview invitation went to an email address I tend not to use much — companies have in all other cases used contact details on the CV itself but this was apparently lost in transit — there was a critical delay of a few days before I saw the invite, and then a further delay due to a whistle-stop trip to London. As a result I went into the interview with little preparation having just flown back, and on the whole I felt that the interview went quite badly. Maybe I felt so bad about the aptitude test that I discounted doing well on the programming test and the final technical discussion section. I went into the interview knowing that I already had an offer in the back pocket — in fact this is partly why I squeezed the interview in rather than delay it even further — which although was calming also made me not take the interview quite as seriously as I ought to have done.

Although I did not let on that I already had an offer from another company, I would not be surprised if the interviewer suspected it, and in any case I left with the impression that I would hear back within a few days. I reckon that had I got a positive result this time last week I could have seriously considered it, but to go back on the other offer at this stage would at best be exceptionally bad form — not exactly bad faith but certainly something bordering on it in terms of trustworthiness. Long story short I had more or less written off the prospects of a positive outcome pretty much even before I left the interview.

What about the offer?

At least financially the declined offer was better than the one I already had, but this is a moot point as the comparison of offers was not the reason for the turning-down. Quite honestly the details are something I saw little benefit of even looking at, let alone balancing out different factors, because I simply was not going to accept it. At the very least the offer was not going to be better enough to justify the aggravation and uncertainty of doing a U-turn on the other offer. Considering that I was expecting to get rejected, as is the typical result when feedback is significantly later than anticipated, I do wonder if them giving me an offer was with enthusiasm or reluctance — the latter possible because preferred candidates had themselves declined. In contrast with the existing offer they actually got back to me a bit quicker than expected, so prima-facie they consider me a much better fit.

And the accepted offer?

There is no point in denying it — the other offer is one that to all intents and purposes I have accepted. I had intended to maintain silence on the whole matter of changing jobs until I had been in a new company for a significant length of time, but I wanted to specifically cover the turning-down of offers while it was still fresh in my mind. I will therefore cover this accepted offer in a future article.