How to turn down offers without burning bridges?

I got a couple of summer internship offers, and I pretty much made up my mind which IB to join. Now comes the hard part - how can I turn down the offers without burning the bridge? I might have to apply to those positions full-time next year.

Especially for one offer, I got it back in December. I was able to extend my deadline, and the HR and MD of the group kept "calling" me. They were really nice about me never giving them an answer...

What should I do? Any good ideas? THANKS!!

Comments (55)

Feb 7, 2011 - 8:46pm
Rupert Pupkin, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Unless it is your dad's best friend, no. Even then they still might not take ti personally. Just be honest and tell them that you have decided to accept an offer from another bank. Don't feel required to tell them which bank. Keep in mind that you're not the first, or last, to get an offer extended and not take them up on it.

Feb 7, 2011 - 9:12pm
GoW, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Best honest with everyone and once you make your decision, call or email everyone else so they know. Also state that you appreciated the opportunity and would love to keep in contact with such high caliber individuals, etc.etc.

Congrats for having multiple offers to choose from. How did you do it? I've been rejected from every Superday thus far. ='[

Best Response
Feb 10, 2011 - 1:45pm
BuyFixAndSell, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Two offers, how to decline (Originally Posted: 02/06/2014)

Hey there,

I was lucky enough to get two internship offers at two very attractive firms, but I obviously have to decline one of the offers.

Basically, company 1 gave out their offer earlier this week and I told them that I am really interested in the offer and they will send me the contract in the next couple of days. However, company 2 was my preferred company, hence I more or less "lied" to company 1 just not to risk their offer when they asked me if I wanted to join their firm. Now company 2 called and extended me an offer as well and I really want to join company 2 due to several reasons (especially better time period and a good chance of a FT offer after the internship, which is impossible at company 2, also more money, prestige, etc.).

So how do I correctly decline company 1's offer? As said before, I haven't received the contracts of both firms and hence haven't signed anything definite. Do I just email them and tell them why I want to decline the offer or is it common to call them and explain my reasoning? I really liked the people at company 1 and it would be an attractive employee post 2 years of IB, so I really don't want to burn any bridges, but I feel like they would be pretty pissed since I already said on the phone that I would be looking forward to joining them..

Any advice how to handle this situation is highly appreciated. Thanks in advance and have a good rest of the week!

Feb 10, 2011 - 1:46pm
Matayo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

you havent signed anything yet, so chill

  • 1
Feb 10, 2011 - 1:50pm
Carnage, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Wait until you have signed your preferred contract and confirmed delivery with HR (call them if you have to). Then simply call the HR department and say you unfortunately have to decline the offer. It is for SA and still early in the process, don't think to much about it, they wont. Just don't blow off the other company, you might have to come back to them for FT.

Feb 10, 2011 - 1:52pm
Mr., what's your opinion? Comment below:

Urgent; How to turn down FT offer without burning bridge? (Originally Posted: 09/08/2010)

Hey guys

Thanks for all your advice on this site. It definitely helped with my summer experience. I'm in a dilemna however. I received an offer from the desk I interned with this summer, but have decided to accept an offer elsewhere. What's the best way to call my desk to tell them I won't be accepting their offer? I really don't want to burn any bridges because I really liked them but I just feel the other option I have would be better for me.

Also, I will inevitably get asked where I accepted, and why etc. What's the best way to answer this? Both offers were from similar ranked BBs but I do strongly believe the one I plan to accept will be the better choice for me.

Appreciate any advice.


Feb 10, 2011 - 1:53pm
brotherbear, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Easy (and you're welcome in advance).

When you call them, start by saying, "This is THE (your name)." Don't say anything else or ask to speak with anyone in particular, and continue to refer to yourself in the third person throughout the conversation. Whomever answers the phone, do NOT engage them in polite conversation. Instead, wait at least 5 seconds after they have stopped talking to say, "You're a nobody, and I never liked you." Then, you ask to speak to someone else on the desk.

When they get on the line, you're going to want to establish dominance by insulting their manhood (any 'small penis' joke wll do). You are then going to want to make some demands. Let them know that you have another offer, and that offer comes with fringe benefits. Here is when you let them know that you're pointing at your dick and waiting expectantly (as they won't know since you're on the phone). No matter what they say (or don't say), you cut them off after 5 seconds with "BLOW JOB" in your best Stewie from Family Guy voice. Now's when you hang up and never call them again.

Seriously, though, just be honest with them. Tell them you got an offer from another bank, and you want to go there for XYZ reason. You said you believe the other offer is 'the better choice for you,' so you must have a reason for that belief. Share with them that reason, and if they give you push back, ask them for their candid opinion of the situation, and what they would do in your place. You've hung around these guys for several months, right? Be a fucking man and talk to them like an adult, then. And don't forget to wear your adult diaper during the call just in case you shit yourself again.

Feb 10, 2011 - 1:55pm
Decliningoffers, what's your opinion? Comment below:

How to decline a FT offer (Originally Posted: 08/11/2014)

I interned at a BB in SF. Worked on a lot of deals which were super interesting and loved the firm/culture/office. I am on track to graduate in three years, but have recently been considering going four years. On my last day at the office, while going through exit interviews, I was given an offer. I really don't want to slight the firm as I thoroughly enjoyed working there. How should I go about declining the offer?

If it makes any difference...I go to a west coast target, solid GPA, leadership, etc.

Feb 10, 2011 - 1:56pm
Mr. Hansen, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Be honest? Pretty simple and they'll understand if you explain it. Do you want to work there after your 4th year?

Feb 10, 2011 - 1:59pm
temporary123, what's your opinion? Comment below:

would you not want to work for the firm in a year? why not just extend the start date

Feb 10, 2011 - 2:01pm
thebrofessor, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would say something like (in more words) "I know I originally told you that I would be graduating in 3 years and this has been a great experience for this summer, I recently decided to stay in school for a 4th year for ____ reasons. I hope to stay in touch over the course of my final year and again, thank you for the opportunity."

the reason you say you hope to stay in touch is because you're not saying "I'd like this offer again in a year" but you're also not saying "fuck off." you may feel differently then than you do now, so just leave the door open. They may have filled your spot, or you may be jaded from PE and want this job. No sense in making promises you can't keep or burning a bridge. Whatever you say, just leave the door open.

Feb 10, 2011 - 2:04pm
TravelBonobo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Holy shit, you got a FT after your freshman summer internship? That's incredible

I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things
Feb 10, 2011 - 2:08pm
masnariktap, what's your opinion? Comment below:

1) Always call 2) Be honest, but not brutally honest (e.g. do not say it is a prestige issue, but say you think you fit a little better with the other culture or some bs excuse) 3) Stay in contact with the people who you really liked and who really liked you. As long as you are tactful, no one will be too upset. And if they are, they are babies.

It's a crappy convo to have, but you really HAVE TO call.

Feb 10, 2011 - 2:09pm
financeguru, what's your opinion? Comment below:

thanks for the input!

when you call, do you usually call the person who called you for an offer? if HR called you for an offer, do you need to call the MDs/partners who interviewed you? if a partner called you for an offer, do you call HR or the partner to turn them down? Or call everyone that had a say in the process?

Feb 10, 2011 - 2:12pm
YellowLime, what's your opinion? Comment below:

How do you turn down offers? (Originally Posted: 03/18/2008)

I got into GS, Lehman, JPMorgan and some others (rejected from Bear's Fixed Income), officially accepted GS. The deadline to reply for the others is tomorrow. Do I send an e-mail or call saying I'm not accepting the offer or do I just let it go and they'll assume I'm not accepting?


Feb 10, 2011 - 2:15pm
numi, what's your opinion? Comment below:

you should ask JambaMan for advice on your precarious situation

Feb 10, 2011 - 2:17pm
fafa, what's your opinion? Comment below:

well to quote mark klein md ............................................. "This is a very complicated ritual, not just anybody can pull it off: Start by sending a gift basket (any kind) to each and every person who has interviewed you at that firm. Don't leave anyone out, even a 1st year analyst, because that would fuck it all up. Then call up each one and engage them in a lengthy conversation; try to steer it toward their feelings about the possibility of you interviewing with another firm on the Street besides theirs. Here's where you have to use your judgment - if he/she doesn't seem to mind if you interview elsewhere, then call them back in 3 weeks and tell them that you're sorry, but you're taking another offer. If they sound like the jealous type, you're going to have to show up in person. Go to the office in your best suit and track down all of the guys who came off as the jealous type... then ask them if they have a few minutse to sit down and talk. Break the news gently, and if it gets violent just walk away and keep it professional. Don't fight back if they get physical."

Feb 10, 2011 - 2:19pm
l2010, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Advice-burning bridges (Originally Posted: 11/12/2009)


If a MD helped me with a school projects and gave me an internship at his (MM) firm (I still had to interview), and by the end of the internship I turn the firm down for a full time offer.... will that be considered burning the bridge. Will my relationship with that MD be the same?

He will sooner or later find out it's bc I got an offer from a bigger name firm. Is that really bad?


Feb 10, 2011 - 2:20pm
Cornelius, what's your opinion? Comment below:

..ur not reneging so ur just turning down an offer.

he'll either be happy for u or try to convince you that working at a mm is a better experience and that you'll hate it at the big firm.

i don't see any reason why he'd stop talking to you or stay as a part of your network

------------ I'm making it up as I go along.
Feb 10, 2011 - 2:23pm
PiperJaffrayChiang, what's your opinion? Comment below:

he'll be mad that you used his firm as a stepping stone to a "bigger" name firm. he built this relationship with you for what? so you could run off to another firm when he invested so much in helping you and gave you an internship basically?

you're playing with fire here

========================================= We are excited to formally extend to you an offer to join Bank of Ameria
Feb 10, 2011 - 2:24pm
l2010, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm afraid he may think like the above ^ comment, ......... That's why I feel bad if I decide to turn it down b/c it seems he invested a lot of his personal time with me

Feb 10, 2011 - 2:25pm
formerMD, what's your opinion? Comment below:

He's a grown-up. He won't pout or hold a grudge if you handle it professionally. The worst thing you can do is turn down a better offer (and just because it's a BB doesn't mean it's better) to avoid potentially pissing him off. The second worst thing you can do is decline the offer without handling it well. To avoid burning a bridge, make sure you - talk to him first. Tell him that you wanted to talk to him first because you value your relationship with him. Tell him you've decided to take another offer and why. You should tell him why it's going to be better for you - thank him for being so supportive of you and tell him you view him as a mentor and hope he can continue to be a sounding board and provide advice going forward

I'm sure he hoped you would join the firm, but he knows there are no guarantees. The fact that you're turning it down for a bigger name won't make him look bad. Firms do not expect to get acceptances from everyone they extend offers to.

How to Decline an Offer -

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Feb 10, 2011 - 2:26pm
jerome123, what's your opinion? Comment below:

No big deal if you're transparent on the process. Just be clear what your objectives are; and also, maybe you're overlooking some real benefits of staying at the smaller shop. Bigger isn't always better.

![ ]( " ")
Feb 10, 2011 - 2:28pm
PiperJaffrayChiang, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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========================================= We are excited to formally extend to you an offer to join Bank of Ameria
Feb 10, 2011 - 2:29pm
MittRomney, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Feb 10, 2011 - 2:30pm
EuropeanBob, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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