HR Hotline: I accepted a job, but I’ve changed my mind. Now what?

Posted on Posted in HR Hotline, Job Search

“I recently received an internship offer for the summer. The deadline was tight and I had to respond before hearing back from other companies. I didn’t want to end up without an internship, so I accepted, even though it wasn’t my first choice. Then I got a better offer from another company. How do I get out of the internship I already accepted?”


Rescinding (taking back) your acceptance of a job offer is a tricky situation. While in some industries and organizations this may be commonplace, in others it can get you blacklisted. Rescinding your acceptance of an offer is generally not something I recommend. However, I’m all about pursuing your passions and listening to your intuition. There may be a situation where it IS the best decision for you.


  1. Really think about your WHY. WHY did you accept the first offer? WHY do you prefer the second offer? Are you making a financially-based decision? Are the professional risks worth the extra cash you would make from the other job? Are you willing to give up the possibility of working for this company in the future? Or is it about the experience? Is this internship unrelated to your interests or career path? If this is just about money, I strongly encourage you to reconsider. While having a few extra bucks in your pocket may seem like the most critical thing in the world right now, I can tell you with absolute certainty that it is not.
  2. Weigh your options. Think about what makes one offer more appealing than the other. Can you take this opportunity to negotiate? Or can this job simply not offer you what you need?
  3. Look forward. It might be hard to think about your future, but try to picture yourself one, three, or even five years from now. Imagine that you made one choice, then imagine the other. Where do you see yourself as a result of that decision?
  4. Go with your gut. How do you feel when you imagine making each choice? Tune into your gut instinct. If your imagined choice makes your stomach churn, you’ve got your answer.


Once you’ve made your decision, contact the employer ASAP. As soon as you’ve decided to rescind your acceptance, you have an obligation to inform them so they can continue their recruiting efforts. Deliver the message over the phone, tactfully. Be sure to apologize for any inconvenience you have caused them. If you’re able, offer something to help them – maybe you can refer a friend who would be perfect for the job.


Here’s an example of what I might say in this situation – but please, use your own words! As with anything else, sincerity is key.


“I’m calling to let you know I will not be able to work for [Organization Name] this summer. After giving it a lot of thought, this is not the right opportunity for me and I’ve received another offer that is a better fit for my skills and career goals. I am sorry for any inconvenience I’ve caused. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you find the right person for this position.”

Have you ever rescinded your acceptance of an offer? Did you go with your gut? Share your experience in the comments below.
Have a burning HR question? Send it my way! I may answer here on my blog as part of my “HR Hotline” series. (Your first name may be used, unless you request to remain anonymous.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *