If you’ve been particularly industrious when it comes to your job search you might be feeling overwhelmed with emails, phone calls, and interviews, but what happens when you receive a job offer while you’ve got a bunch of other post-interview responses pending? Here’s how to handle a job offer while you’re still interviewing.
Make a List of Priorities
As you make your way through your job search and the application process, be mindful of what’s most important to you in a job. Are you looking for a higher salary? Do perks such as unlimited PTO or an onsite fitness center appeal to you? Along with this, consider other aspects of a job such as the tasks you’ll be performing, workplace culture, or whether a company promotes from within. Once you’ve got your list of priorities, use it to draw comparisons between the companies you’re applying to. This will allow you to rank the companies from most preferable to least preferable, or perhaps “least best,” if you will.
Let’s say you have five companies in your ranking and the top-ranked job makes you an offer. Here, the decision to accept the offer and discontinue the interview processes for the remaining jobs seems to be an obvious one. On the other hand, if the fifth job in your ranking makes you an offer, you might want to stall in hopes of receiving an offer from one of the higher-ranking jobs. This can be a tricky situation, and how you respond to an offer in this scenario is incredibly important, which we’ll get to in just a bit.
First and foremost, it’s always best to be transparent during the interview process. If you’re asked whether you’re interviewing with multiple companies, explain that while you’re exploring your options and you’ve got some additional interviews lined up, you’re most excited about the job you’re currently interviewing for. If the interviewer gets the impression that you’re less than enthusiastic, you probably won’t receive an offer. In other words, don’t make a potential employer feel as though they’re your fall back plan.
It’s worth mentioning that there’s another advantage to being transparent about interviewing with multiple companies. If you’ve effectively demonstrated your value to a potential employer and they’re aware that you’re currently interviewing elsewhere, they are now involved in a competition for you (yes, you!). This could work in your favor when it comes to an offer, as an employer may be inclined to offer you a higher starting salary or additional perks in order to win you over.
Responding to an Offer
Whether you receive an offer from your dream job or the job that ranks last on your list, your response should always be the same. Regardless of whether you intend to take an offer, always respond promptly and say thank you. Now, there is an art to stalling on an offer when you’re unsure or in the event you’re waiting for a response from another potential employer. Throughout this process, maintain the same level of enthusiasm and gratitude displayed upon being notified of the offer. Remember, you might wind up accepting the offer, even if it wasn’t your first choice.
The first thing you should do is ask for the offer in writing. Often, a potential employer will notify you of an impending offer before sending any official paper work. In your initial response, remember to say thank you, and then politely ask them to send the offer in writing at their earliest convenience. Typically, it takes a day or two for an official offer to be drawn up, and most employers expect that you’ll take your time reviewing the offer before signing it. This should buy you some time without coming off as uncertain or hesitant.
Another tactic is to ask for an extension on the offer’s deadline. More times than not, the deadline should be included in the particulars of the offer; however, if it isn’t you can always check with the contact person and ask them to provide you with a deadline. In your response, explain that you would like an extension on the deadline so you can take the time to review the offer in detail. In this case, make sure you ask for the extension right away and provide a reasonable timeline for your response in order to maintain transparency.
Keep in mind that the longer you take to respond to an offer, the more likely it is that a potential employer will seek out other options. The bottom line is, don’t delay your response by more than a business week—if you get an offer Monday, explain that you’ll respond by the end of the week. In addition to this, only interview with companies that you’re legitimately interested in working for, this way any offer you get is something you could seriously consider.
Leveraging an Offer
If you’re delaying your response to an offer and you still haven’t received word from any of the other companies you’ve interviewed with, you could leverage your offer to speed up the process or gain additional information. Let’s say you received an offer from the third company in your handy ranking. Here, you could notify the top-ranked company that you’ve received an offer, and you’re following up because you’re most interested in working for them. In this scenario, you might get another offer, or you might get the old “we’ve decided to go in a different direction” conversation. Either way, you’ve done your diligence and you still have an offer waiting in the wings.
It’s important to remember that time is of the essence. Try not to delay any job offers for too long, as you don’t want to hurt your candidacy or burn bridges. If you’re only interviewing for jobs that you really want, you should have little trouble deciding whether or not to accept an offer.
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