When to Decline a Job Offer


When you're looking for a new job, it’s easy to come down with a case of tunnel vision, focusing exclusively on reeling in an offer without considering whether it’s really the kind of job you'd like to snag. Many of us get so wrapped up in crafting the perfect cover letter or wearing the perfect interview outfit, all in order to snag an offer, that we forget that not every job is one worth taking. mental_floss spoke with career coaches Sarah Stamboulie, head of Stamboulie Consulting, and Jennifer Rosenthal, president of Career Confidence NYC, about the important factors to consider about when weighing a job offer—and when it’s a good idea to turn an offer down. 


Both Stramboulie and Rosenthal agree that it’s important to know what your goals are before going into a job interview. It’s difficult to know whether a job is a good fit, or whether an offer is right for you, if you haven’t thought extensively about what you really want.

Rosenthal recommends making a list of what she calls “key career ingredients” before beginning the application process. These are the criteria that are most important to you, and can include job stability, compensation, brand recognition, and more. Rosenthal notes that career ingredients are personal, not universal. “Some people are looking for stability above all else, and others don’t care,” she says. “Some like to be really independent, while others are looking for a really strong mentor. Everyone has different priorities.” 

Rosenthal also emphasizes the importance of using your must-have list to help keep your eye on the prize during a difficult job hunt. “Most folks do not like the job search process, and find it stressful, so there can be the impulse to say, ‘I just want to stop this process and take a job.’ That’s why it’s so important to have that list,” she says.


Stamboulie recommends strongly against interviewing for jobs you know you don’t really want. “People should prep very hard and very specifically for the opportunities they’re really interested in,” she says. “Because when you get an offer from a job or a company you’re not really interested in, and it’s good money, or your mom says you should take it, all kinds of bad things come from that.” 


Avoiding a bad job offer can be as simple as narrowing down your job search before you start applying. Other times, a job sounds great on paper, but things start to go downhill during the interview. Both Stamboulie and Rosenthal say it’s important to pay attention to your own feelings during an interview. “If you feel like you wouldn’t be happy somewhere, even if the interview process wasn’t overtly negative, it could just be a bad fit,” Rosenthal says. “It doesn’t mean it’s a bad role or a bad company, but it might not be for you.” 

“Some people’s personalities are such that they’re better at seeing, and heeding, red flags than others,” says Stamboulie. “If you’re one of those people who’s not great at noticing red flags, talk to the people around you about your interview experience, and ask your friends for advice.” 

Some interview red flags are more tangible than others. Your comfort level during an interview, and how you mesh with your interviewer, are decent ways to gauge whether a company’s culture is a good fit for you. But some red flags are more objective. “If any employer asks you illegal questions about your personal life, that should be a huge red flag,” Rosenthal says. “Clearly, no one should ask whether you’re married or trying to get pregnant. And if anything feels unethical but not quite illegal, that should also be a big warning sign.” (You can read a list of some of the most commonly asked illegal interview questions here, and questions you might not realize are illegal here.)


Once you make it past the interview stage and finally get a job offer, it’s time to take a close look at both the written offer and the attitude of your potential employer. One of the biggest things to look out for, according to Stamboulie, is the bait-and-switch. “If, throughout the interview, the interviewer referred to the job as a manager position, and now it’s suddenly an assistant manager position, that’s a bad sign,” she says. “Or if suddenly, the interviewer is acting like they’re doing you a favor when they give you the offer—if you were feeling the love during the interview process, and now you’re not—it might be time to reconsider.” 

Stamboulie says it’s incredibly important to look at your job offer in its entirety. “In addition to the written offer letter, you should be looking at the employee handbook, non-compete agreement, or any other legal paperwork you’ll have to sign,” she says. “Sometimes there’s really bad stuff hidden in there: You don’t want to quit a job only to find out there was some vicious non-compete clause you didn’t know about. If you have a friend who’s a lawyer, or someone who understands how to read those materials, get them to help you. It’s always good to get a second pair of eyes on those papers.” 


Make sure to do your research on the company and the position you’re about to fill. “Find out if the company is financially secure and why your particular position is opening up,” recommends Rosenthal. “If it’s a completely new position, that might indicate the company is growing, which is great. If it’s a position that opened up because somebody moved on, you can ask your interviewer where your predecessor went, and whether they were promoted or left the company. If they left, it’s not necessarily a bad sign, but you might want to do a little research on your own, take a peek at their LinkedIn, and see where they ended up.” 


If you’ve received a job offer and it’s not raising any major red flags, Stamboulie and Rosenthal say the decision is ultimately a personal one. “It just has to feel right to you,” Rosenthal says. “If a job hits the top three things on your list but misses a few lower down, it might still be worth considering. It’s a decision you have to make based on your priorities.” Most people can tell when a job doesn’t feel quite right, says Stamboulie, and unless you’re in dire straits financially, it’s a good idea to turn down jobs that aren’t appealing.

“When should you turn down a job and keep looking? My thought would be, a lot of the time, if you’re asking that question, you should probably keep looking,” Stamboulie says.

Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images
job secrets
9 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Hollywood Body Doubles
Hugh Jackman and his Real Steel body double, Taris Tyler
Hugh Jackman and his Real Steel body double, Taris Tyler
Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

When you see the back of an actor’s head in a movie, it may not be the actor you think it is. In addition to stunt performers, most movies employ body doubles (or photo doubles) with a passing resemblance to the principal actors. While some body doubles are brought on set for specific skills—like helping an actor pass as a professional athlete—the job can often involve just being a body, whether that means being nude on camera, having photogenic hands, or appearing in place of actors who can’t be on set for some reason. Here are nine secrets of the job:


Body double Danielle Sepulveres has played the hands of other actors in plenty of roles in her career, on TV and in beauty commercials featuring close-up shots of her holding moisturizer or makeup. She’s drizzled dressing on salad in place of Brooke Shields. She regularly slides files across tables, makes lists, and pours wine in the place of actresses on The Good Wife. (She has also played Jill Flint's butt on the show.) “I knew only glimpses of my hands might make it into a shot, or part of my shoulder along with a wisp of hair,” she wrote of one of her jobs in Good Housekeeping in 2016. But she overheard the director complaining that her wrists looked “vastly different” than those of the principal actress in the movie, 2015’s Mania Days. “Luckily, I didn't get fired in spite of my wrists, but I wouldn't have been surprised had it happened.”


Yes, body doubles are often brought in if an actor doesn’t want to bare it all on camera. But they are hired for other reasons, too. For one thing, union rules mandate the actors get 12 hours off between when they leave set for the day and their next call time, so if the shoots are running long, the crew might employ someone else to stand in. Other times, it's a matter of particular talents. Most actors may be able to sing, dance, and cry on camera, but few also have the athletic skills to allow them to pass as a sports legend. In Battle of the Sexes (2017), Emma Stone plays Billie Jean King, one of the best tennis players of all time. To realistically represent King’s skills on the court, the movie makers brought in tennis doubles to play in place of Stone and her co-star, Steve Carell. Stone’s double was chosen for her playing style, which resembled King’s, and worked with King on-set to perfect her imitation. The effort was, according to The Wall Street Journal, a huge success. “Not only is the tennis believable, it’s a meticulous representation of the type of tennis played in that era: serve and volley, chipping and charging to the net, touch volleys and soft hands.”


When you are tasked with choosing a celebrity doppelgänger, you’ve got to keep egos in mind. “The choice reflects on the principal actor,” DeeDee Ricketts, the casting director for Titanic, told Vanity Fair in 2016. “We have to take into consideration that they can’t be too thin, or more beautiful, or too heavy, or too old, or else the principal actor will think, That’s how they see me?” Actors often get to give input on who will be their double, and sometimes have final approval rights written into their contracts. When she was being considered for the job of Janet Leigh's body double in Psycho's iconic shower scene, model and Playboy covergirl Marli Renfro had to strip down for both Alfred Hitchcock and Leigh herself so that they could make sure her body looked enough like Leigh's, as Renfro recently revealed at a Brooklyn screening of the documentary 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene. In the case of nude scenes, actors might even have final approval on what physical moves their doubles are allowed to make.


If you’re working as an actor’s double, by definition, you’re not going to have scenes with them, and so some body doubles never meet the stars they’re pretending to be. Danish actor Elvira Friis, who worked as a body double for Charlotte Gainsbourg (and her character’s younger self, played by Stacy Martin) during the racier scenes of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac (2013), never met the actor. “The closest I got to Charlotte Gainsbourg was that I was wearing her dress,” Friis told The Wall Street Journal.


But how much time an actor spends with their doppelgänger really depends on the role. Some actors spend plenty of time with their doubles on set helping them get into the role. In What Happened to Monday (2017), Noomi Rapace plays the roles of seven identical sisters, making body doubles a necessity on set. Rapace helped direct her doubles during filming, “as they needed to know how the star would play the scene for each character so that it would sync up when she performed the part herself,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Game of Thrones star Lena Headey (who plays Cersei) worked closely with her double Rebecca Van Cleave for a nude scene in the show’s fifth season finale. Headey walked Van Cleave through her character’s thinking and movements for each shot. Then, Headey did the same performance herself, wearing a beige dress that could later be edited out. In the final product, Headey’s facial expressions were merged with Van Cleave’s nude body.


Because body doubles are often only seen from the back or side, they may not look quite as much like their acting counterpart as you’d think. Brett Baker, who worked as Leonardo DiCaprio’s body double for Titanic, is several inches shorter than DiCaprio and seven years older. From the front, you wouldn’t peg him as a Jack Dawson lookalike. But with the same clothes and haircut, shot from above and behind, he passed easily as DiCaprio. Once Leo’s closeups were done, according to Vanity Fair, Baker was often brought in to stand opposite Kate Winslet as she played through her half of the scene. In some cases, he didn’t make it into the final shot at all, but still had to be on set for those 14-hour days.


With the help of technology, filmmakers can put their leading actor’s face on a body double’s torso, so they don’t have to limit their body doubles to just back-of-the-head or partial shots. This allows them to seamlessly meld both the main actor and the body double’s performances in post-production. That can allow directors to get exactly the scene they want in shows like Orphan Black, which features Tatiana Maslany playing multiple roles, or in cases where actors don't want to get totally naked on-camera. In rare cases, it can also be used to bring actors back from the dead. When Paul Walker died in a car crash midway through filming Furious 7 (2015), the filmmakers used his brothers and another actor as body doubles, superimposing computer-generated images of Walker’s face on their performances. Around 260 shots featuring Walker’s doubles appeared in the final cut.


When Matt Damon was filming The Martian (2015), he wanted to lose 30 to 40 pounds to portray astronaut Mark Watney after he had been surviving on meager rations for years. But the filming schedule made that impossible, so a body double had to be brought in for some shots. “I was going to lose a bunch of weight in the third act of the movie, then put the weight back on,” Damon told Maclean’s. However, as the schedule shook out, they filmed the NASA interiors in Hungary, then immediately went to Jordan, which doubled as the Red Planet for the film’s purposes, and shot all the exterior shots from the beginning, middle, and end of the movie, with no time for Damon to lose a significant amount of weight. The skinny body double isn’t on screen for long. “It was, like, two shots,” Damon describes. (Still, fans noticed.)


When it comes to nude scenes, sometimes body doubles are hired but never used. Veteran body double Laura Grady was cast as Robin Wright’s lookalike for State of Play (2009), but didn’t shoot a single scene. “I just sat in my trailer, ready to go, and then at the end, [Wright] decided to do her own scenes,” Grady told Vulture in 2014. “That happens sometimes. Sometimes they just get a body double because they think they might need one, and then all of a sudden the actress is comfortable and she’s like, ‘No, I’ll just do it.’ Or they change a scene and they don’t make it as risqué.” Don’t worry, though—the double still gets paid.

Visual Capitalist
Live Smarter
Looking for a Job? Here's the Largest Employer in Each State
Visual Capitalist
Visual Capitalist

Whether you love or hate Walmart stores, they're a vital component of America’s economy. The big box store is the top employer in nearly half of America’s 50 states, according to a new map spotted by Thrillist.

Created by Visual Capitalist, a Canadian media and news firm, the graphic below breaks down the nation’s largest private employers, state by state. Based on data collected by the website, it excludes state governments and military bases but includes public universities, hospitals, and airports, in addition to other businesses.

Walmart reigned supreme across the South and Midwest, with presences in states ranging from Alabama to Wyoming. Together, the map’s data suggests, Walmart hires over 1.5 million Americans, including nearly 172,000 employees in Florida alone.

Health care was also big business, with hospital services making up the brunt of the local economy in states including Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, and Minnesota. In Washington state, the airplane manufacturer Boeing dominated the local market, while MGM Resorts International employed 55,200 people in Nevada. And in both Maine and New Jersey, regional grocery chains like Hannaford Supermarkets and Wakefern Food Corporation helped locals pay the bills.

Check out the full map below.

A map of the top employers in each state, created by Visual Capitalist
Visual Capitalist

[h/t Thrillist]


More from mental floss studios