When interviewing for a job, it’s hard to know what to do when you have an offer in your hands but are hoping another company will make you one too. You want to keep the offer you have on the table, but you also want to see how the hiring process is going at the other company. The author presents several ways to cope with this unpleasant situation. Try to buy yourself some time, turn down any companies you’re not interested in, and see if your favorite company can speed up the recruitment process. Regardless of your decision, always be respectful of the recruiters you interact with. At the end of the day, you want to find the right fit for you and companies want to find the right fit for you. Being as authentic and professional as possible through proactive communication will be critical to your success, making you feel comfortable not only with the job you take on, but also with the companies you leave.
After months of interviewing for new jobs, you finally have an offer in your hands. You’re excited, but it’s not your first choice. You’re still interviewing for your dream job and a few others you still don’t know enough about. They don’t want to lose the current offer, but at the same time want to see how the hiring processes of the other companies are developing. What to do? Here are five ways to manage an offer in hand when you don’t know if or when another is coming.
Ask for time to decide
The most important thing is to express enthusiasm. Without setting a positive tone, you risk the offer being withdrawn. By letting a recruiter know that you’re excited about the position and the company and grateful for the offer, you show that you’re interested in potentially joining their company.
Then you can ask for up to a week to consider the offer. Assess the recruiter’s response. Some companies won’t want to wait that long because the market is so competitive, and the company will want to know whether it needs to switch to a replacement candidate or start the search from scratch. If the recruiter’s reaction is cold, ask them for a reasonable amount of time to respond—without giving any further details. You don’t want to tell them you’re still interviewing because it will give the impression that your excitement about the role is not authentic.
Meet more people or take a tour
If you can’t control how much time you have to consider the offer, you can try to extend the deadline by asking to meet up with someone you haven’t already met or (if applicable) taking a tour of the office prior to the offer is a decision. A tour, even through an empty office, will help you get a feel for the culture and the common spaces. Try to schedule the meeting or tour a week in advance so you have a chance to wrap up interviews with other companies.
Reject companies you are not interested in
If you’ve interviewed at companies that you’re not that interested in during this period, call or email the recruiters to let them know you have an offer and want to take it. While most candidates have been ghosted by a recruiter at some point in their job search, don’t imitate bad behavior. You’ve developed a relationship with them, and you may need them in a few years. Treat recruiters with the respect you wish to be treated, even if you’ve had a bad experience before.
Determine if you are a suitable candidate elsewhere
Contact your company’s first choice recruiter or hiring manager to reaffirm your enthusiasm for the job and let them know that they are your first choice but you have a second choice offer from your company. Mention that you don’t want to lose the offer if you’re not a suitable candidate for the first-choice job, ask if you’re really in the running, and listen carefully to the energy in the response. If they say you are not a suitable candidate, you can move on. When they say they are just beginning the recruitment process, it means that no matter how great you are, they are willing to lose you as a candidate.
If they say you are a suitable candidate, there is great enthusiasm and you are well advanced in the interview, you can ask if there is anything else you can answer so they can make an offer. If the interview is just beginning, you can ask them to expedite the rest of the process to determine if you are the best candidate for the job. If they can speed things up, great! If that’s not possible, you’ll have to decide if you want to take the risk of turning down the offer you already have.
Accept the job and ask to start later
The average new hire starts a new job between two and four weeks after accepting an offer. If you can sustain it financially, accept and ask for a start date in a month. This gives you time to complete the interview process with other companies to see if they are a better match for you. There are pros and cons to doing this:
If you accept, you have a job waiting for you, so you don’t feel as much pressure to get another offer. Asking for four weeks also gives you time to either successfully receive an offer from your first choice company or to exhaust your other options, which allows you to fully focus on the job you have accepted.
If you wait a month and are currently unemployed, you could go longer without a paycheck, which could lead to financial difficulties. While it’s nothing to worry about, changing your mind after accepting an offer could reflect badly on your character, especially if you’re not good at handling uncomfortable conversations.
If you want to accept an offer from another company after you’ve already accepted one elsewhere, it’s best to call the recruiter at the company you wanted to work at as soon as possible and tell them you’ve changed your mind to have. You might think an email is fine, but a phone call with an apology is better, no matter how awkward it may be. I remember a new hire not showing up on their first day and calls and texts going unanswered. The recruiter knew he would have to drive a long way on his first day and sent the police to his home for a social check – and the new hire answered the door. He sent the recruiter an angry email saying they “went too far to send the police to my house”. He had just changed his mind and didn’t feel the need to tell anyone.
The rejected company will need another 60+ days to find a new hire, so don’t forget to let the company know and don’t hesitate to let them know. Even if you have that interview perfectly, you may never work again at the rejected company or at other companies that the recruiter and hiring manager later move to.
At the end of the day, you want to find the right fit for you and companies want to find the right fit for you. If you feel that the company that offered you a job is not right for you because of your professional aspirations, culture, or any other reason, it is best to decline the offer and continue your search if You can overcome your fear and survive financially. Being as authentic and professional as possible through proactive communication will be critical to your success, making you feel comfortable not only with the job you take on, but also with the companies you leave.