Can a Firm Rescind a Job Offer Before Acceptance?

by Ruth Mayhew

The emotions you experience as a job seeker can range from elation to disappointment if the hiring manager rescinds the offer before you've had a chance to accept it. Look on the bright side, though. If you're already employed, it's always prudent to wait until you accept another job before you resign from your current one. This way, if the new job offer is rescinded before you accept it, you still have a job.

Conditional Job Offer

When the hiring manager first extends a job offer, it's often conditioned upon you passing the background check, employment verification and any other pre-employment and post-offer steps. If you have more time to respond than what's necessary to conduct the background investigation, and the investigation reveals information that justifies rescinding the offer, the hiring manager has the right to withdraw the job offer. Provided the reason for rescinding the job offer isn't discriminatory, employers can take back away from an offer at any time, including before you formally accept it.

Employer Circumstances

Poor planning or just being oblivious to what can happen when the company extends an offer might underlie rescinding an offer before you accept. In some instances, an employer will extend an offer and then learn that the position can't be authorized or that the organization doesn't have funding for the position. When this happens, it's incumbent upon the employer to let you know as soon as possible so as to prevent you from incurring the huge loss of being out of two jobs -- the new one and your old one.

Wise Steps

To prevent the extreme disappointment of being offered a job and having it slip through your fingers, wait until you accept a final offer and have a firm start date before you tell your current employer that you're quitting. You'll have to rely, in part, on your intuition and trust in the organization that makes the offer that you have a firm offer that the hiring manager won't rescind. Asking the right questions can also help reassure you that you have a firm offer.

Candidate Questions

Although there's no sure-fire way for you to ensure that the offer is a final one, it might be safe to assume that once the background check is complete and all of the pre-employment and post-offer steps are fulfilled, your job offer is close to being written in stone. But asking pertinent questions, such as "How certain are you that there's funding for this position?" or "Will you inform me about when to expect a final job offer as soon as you receive the results from my background check?" can lock the hiring manager into assuring you that the offer won't fall through.

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew began writing in 1985. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry" and "Human Resources Managers Appraisal Schemes." Mayhew earned senior professional human resources certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute and holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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