“I got an offer, but I’m still interviewing with another company” – here’s how to buy yourself time
Congratulations! You’ve done the hard part: the applications, interviews, preparation, and stress are behind you…for the most part. There’s just one step left, and it’s arguably the most important piece of the entire process – deciding whether or not to take the job.
Harder yet, you may have two interview processes progressing simultaneously. Earning an offer from one can feel great, but it can also leave you panicking about making the right choice – especially if your second offer hasn’t come in yet. How are you supposed to compare the benefits, compensation, bonus, hours, equity, and culture, when you only have one offer in hand? What if you delay and the second offer never comes through? Or your current offer expires in the meantime?
That’s when the art of buying yourself time comes into play. Here’s how it’s done:
Be a participant, not an observer
As in all parts of the interview process, you do not simply receive questions or information – you actively contribute your own thoughts and ideas as well. In the case of negotiating two offers, that means setting a timeline that works for both you and your hiring manager.
The easiest way to do this is to use the “ask-tell” method: you first ask your recruiter or hiring manager about their preferred timeline, and then you stretch that timeline a bit by referencing your (very legitimate and truthful) need to consult with family, carefully consider your future, and reflect on everything you’ve learned throughout the interview process. You can say something as simple as “Thank you so much for the offer, I’m really excited for the opportunity. This is obviously a very big decision that I don’t take lightly, and I’ll need X days to discuss with my family while I consider all aspects of the offer package.”
Depending on the urgency of the role, some companies may insist on a quick turnaround time – possibly even 48-72 hours, especially if it’s a contract position. In that case I would reiterate your gratitude, excitement, and desire to create a strong foundation for what you hope will be a very fruitful working relationship, and assure them that you will make an informed decision as quickly as is reasonably possible.
Rationality is your lifeline
Before you push for an extra-long consideration period, it’s important to ask yourself a few key questions – are your skills hard-to-come-by? How many people graduate with your degree? Do you offer a unique combination of skills and expertise that few others possess? How long do similar positions usually stay vacant?
If there is a line of people with similar skills just waiting to get this same opportunity – well then, delaying your acceptance may very well cost you the job.
Putting ego aside and staying informed about your desirability can mean the difference between securing your dream job and letting it slip through your fingers. Being rational about who needs who more – you or the hiring manager – will save you a lot of stress in the long run.
Be honest and consistent
Firstly, I always encourage candidates to be truthful from the get-go about any other interviews. A few reasons why you’d want to share this kind of information:
- Sharing about your other interviews shows your integrity
- Hiring managers will usually speed up their interviews in response
- The fact that other companies are interested is sure to intrigue your interviewer
Secondly, contextualize any mention of other interviews by reiterating that this job is your priority. Hiring managers are people too; they don’t want to feel like just another job. They want to feel special.
Thirdly, sprinkle in mentions of your other interviews throughout your meetings with recruiters/hiring managers. Your goal isn’t to cause them undue stress or apply pressure, but rather to partner with them in aligning your timelines and keeping everything on track so that you can make the most informed decision in the least amount of time.
Will backing out of an accepted offer ruin your reputation?
The short answer is – no. So long as you are operating in good faith and doing your utmost to minimize any inconvenience for others, people will usually understand.
The problems arise when reneging on offers becomes a regular occurrence. Depending on your industry, word certainly can get around – and once you’ve been marked as unreliable or untrustworthy, it’s hard to shed that label.
If you can’t actually see yourself working at this specific job, at this specific company, then you should probably think twice before accepting the offer. Even if it’s the only offer you have right now – even if it’ll make for an excellent bargaining chip – you may come to regret it. People’s day-to-day lives will be impacted by your decisions, from the hiring manager and the recruiter to the entire team that is counting on you.
It all comes down to…
Getting to the finish line with two (or more!) offers is something worth celebrating – yet it’s also a cause for stress when timelines don’t align. But don’t panic; recruiters and hiring managers are used to navigating these kinds of challenges and will more than likely be happy to accommodate your needs. By being transparent from the start, showing continued and genuine interest in the role, and acting in good faith, you’ll minimize stress and maximize your chances of landing the right job for you.
Last thing – once you decide on the job you want, it’s time to negotiate the offer package! You can find a few of our finest negotiating tips here: Fail-proof strategies to negotiate your salary
As always, I’m happy to share more approaches to navigating this too often anxiety-inducing process. Just send me an email at email@example.com