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

interested in this as well...
do people in the industry take it personally when you turn down offers

Feb 7, 2011

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

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. ='[

Feb 7, 2011

Being polite is the key, also make sure to stay in touch - wall street is really a very small club

Feb 10, 2011

thanks guys! I guess I just have to do it....

another question: should I only let the HR know? Or, should I also contact my superday interviewers??

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Feb 10, 2011

Great question, its always tough letting down the people that you were asked to join

"Hold on to your butts"

See all my other WSO posts here

Feb 7, 2011

Get in touch with interviwers

Feb 10, 2011

Air that shit on TV son!

Feb 10, 2011
Lebron James:

Air that shit on TV son!

+1

Feb 10, 2011

you havent signed anything yet, so chill

happy to give advice; no asking for referrals please

    • 1
Feb 10, 2011

When you get the contracts, kindly talk to someone to decline. Congratulations on both offers though.

Feb 10, 2011

Just call or email the contact in HR and decline the offer. You don't need to give much of a reason and they realize that not every kid will accept their offers. Congrats.

Feb 10, 2011

Don't decline the first one until you've signed the preferred offer, you never know what might happen.

Feb 10, 2011

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.

    • 1
Feb 10, 2011

Thanks guys, helped a lot!

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Feb 10, 2011

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

Someone lacks common sense.

Feb 10, 2011

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

That's the thing too...may want to try PE next summer.

Feb 10, 2011

This. Say you want to do a senior year to learn more, take classes you'll never be able to again, screw girls/guys you'll never be able to again (that's not a joke and I'd accept that as a legit reason although you'll have to find a more eloquent way of stating it).

Feb 10, 2011

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

Feb 10, 2011

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

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

Sophomore...and it was supposed to be my junior summer. But I may extend graduation for a year.

Feb 10, 2011

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

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
financeguru:

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?

This can depend. I've seen it/done it both ways. If HR has been your main contact throughout the process, then call HR. However, if you have been discussing the offer with a banker/bankers, call them first (IMO) to discuss the situation. As I said above, be sure to give them your subtle rationale. Then offer to call HR right after to confirm (they may say, "no i'll take care of it" which happened to me).

If you decide on the HR route, be sure to send people you were close to in the process a note to thank them and give a brief explanation. It might be a nice gesture to offer to discuss live as well.

Hope that helps. Let me know if I didn't answer something.

One thing to think about: Don't stress too much about this (even though it can be nervewracking) - at the end of the day, you're just an analyst / associate...the bank will survive without you.

Feb 10, 2011

ummm. good question, I would like to know too

Feb 10, 2011

Dude... horrible time for this post.

Feb 10, 2011

Is he Pepstar's reincarnation?

Feb 10, 2011

you should ask JambaMan for advice on your precarious situation

Feb 10, 2011
numi:

you should ask JambaMan for advice on your precarious situation

Hahaha... the exact same tool popped into my mind

Feb 10, 2011

I am looking to return my Lambo Diablo because I just won 2 Masarati's from an MD at Evercore who gave me a job even though I went to ASU with a low GPA and no EC's. Any advice...

Feb 10, 2011

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

..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

no, it's not burning a bridge if you turn down an offer politely.

it might be considered as such if you throw your rejection of their offer through the MD's window tied to a rock.

Feb 10, 2011

It won't be burning a bridge. It would be rude if you didn't tell him and he had to find out on his own though.

Feb 10, 2011

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

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

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 - http://bit.ly/3x51Pl
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Feb 10, 2011

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

Great advice, Thanks a lot.

Feb 10, 2011

he won't be happy with it . you've built your rep with him and he kind of expects you to reciprocate perhaps by joining his firm and working for him. how would you feel if you mentored some guy only to have him use your firm as a stepping stone? it reflects poorly on your character and given that the industry is very tight knit, it'll bite you in the ass

=========================================
We are excited to formally extend to you an offer to join Bank of Ameria

Feb 10, 2011

I've had some friends with fulltime offers with banks, pretty good banks too. The bankers who wanted them to come on were pretty disappointed that they did not accept the offer and they definitely burned those bridges, but that's just from what I saw in a few cases. These cases are in the minority.

In your situation, I'd imagine the MD wants you to join, and if he is excited for you to come on, then he will be disappointed I imagine, but that's my opinion.

Feb 10, 2011

If you explain why you want to take the other offer he will understand.
He is an adult and a business man and most probably won't be mad at you.
Just be sure you talk to him first.

I worked in a boutique m&a firm and when I left the MD with which I worked most was kind of pissed.
But he got over it after a few weeks and now we are close friends.

I think the guy will surely be happy for you if you follow FormerMD's advice.