I Have 1 Job Offer and 1 Interview, What Should I Do?

FROM: R
TO: LOGAN
SUBJECT: HELP

This past Friday, I was offered a six-month contract position working for employer X. The conversation started out with: “Are you interested in this being part-time or full-time?” meaning they were flexible on the hours that could be worked, and I said that I’m interested in full-time only so long as it has the possibility of leading to a full-time, salaried job. There will be two full-time, salaried jobs opening up in 3-5 months, which she made a point to mention, though she also said of course that she obviously can’t guarantee that I’d get it. So we talked about it, and the hiring manager said she would draft a contract and send it my way early this week, like today or tomorrow. She sounded excited about it. And I should probably also mention that they are voluntarily paying me a little bit more than the rate I asked for (actual amount unclear until I see the contract). So I kind of verbally said yes, but did not say “I accept” or sign anything, as I haven’t seen the contract yet.

THEN: This morning I found out I am have a final interview for a full-time, salaried position with employer Y that I would very much want. The interview is tomorrow, but I suspect they wouldn’t be able to let me know their final decision until next week, or possibly Dec 1. I plan to let them know that I have another offer and hopefully ask them if they might be able to let me know by next week (right? this gives me anxiety about pressuring them, but I kind of have to).

WHAT SHOULD I TELL EMPLOYER X??? I have to tell them about this situation, right?

I am a little afraid of telling them that I need to wait a bit, because then they might think I view them as second-best and subtly damage my chances of getting that eventual full-time job, if I do not get an offer from employer Y. But then again, I feel like it would be shitty not to say anything. And what I’m doing is not reneging at this point yet, right?? I said I’m on board on the phone with employer X on Friday, but again, I haven’t seen a contract or signed anything.

Do you think Employer X will understand if I tell them that I need to consider the possibility of this other job offer simply because it is a full-time salaried position, while this one has no guarantee of an eventual job? Do you think they would understand? What do I doooooooooo I have lots of stress about this.

From: Logan
To: R
SUBJECT: RE: HELP

When I read your letter, I started to get really into it: This IS a predicament! Yikes! Oof! What should you do? I was thinking about a lot of manipulation tactics, stalling tactics, strategic lying 101.

But it’s not that complicated actually, no tactics needed at all, not yet. Here’s what you do:

You treat the offer and the interview as two separate things, which they are. Continue with Employer X in the manner that you would if there was no Employer Y. Which there may not be! They could cancel; they could have already decided to hire the boss’s son, but have to interview a woman to satisfy HR; they could be fully intending to hire you and then they lose a client and their budget dries up, oops. Anything could happen. So yes, accept the job from Employer X, get that ball rolling. Be excited, it’s a job that could lead to a better job. Sounds great.

But is it dishonest, to accept one job while you’re holding out for another job? Nope. It’s not personal, it’s business. What a good mantra, especially for women: It’s not personal, it’s business. They don’t care about helping you make the best decision for your life. They are not your friends. They are trying to hire you for a job. Do you want it? Yes you want it. Sign the dotted line. It’s a contract for at-will employment, reserving their right to fire you and your right to quit. It’s not a blood bond. You can break it. No one is going to sue you. (I mean, read the contract before you sign it, butttttttttttt I’m like 99% sure you’re okay unless you’re like, a contract killer? IDK.) (I am not a lawyer, did you know I’m not a lawyer?)

So what happens if you accept this job and then get offered the other job? You will give notice. You will say, “I was just offered a job that I had to take, I’m sorry, but I need to give notice.” You will probably do this over email. It will be uncomfortable. They will be pissed because now they have to find someone else to hire. They might be really pissed! I mean, I probably would be. But also, that’s the way it goes. Sometimes you hire people and then they leave two weeks later. Sometimes you hire people and you fire them two weeks later. Anything could happen. There are more unknowns than knowns, always will be.

Take care of you. Accept the job. Interview for the other job. If you get that job and you want that job, accept that job. This next few weeks is going to be stressful, thinking of what is and what might be. It’ll be stressful waiting to hear about the interview. It’ll be stressful if you get the job, and stressful if you don’t. But it’ll be over soon, and one way or another, you’ll have a job. Transitions are graceless, but then they’re done. You’re going to be okay.

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12 Comments / Post A Comment

clo (#4,196)

Personally I would tell the first job that I needed extra time to make the decision and tell the second job you already have an offer. That’s totally a legit thing on both sides to do.

sherlock (#3,599)

No! Disagree!!! Or at least, I think you are getting way ahead of things. I would ask Company X for a firm deadline for accepting their offer, and then clearly communicate this deadline to Company Y to see if they are willing and able to work within that timeframe. I don’t see the point in rushing to accept the offer from Company X if they haven’t even given you a deadline yet! To me, this is where the “it’s not personal, it’s business” advice needs to be applied. Company X won’t be offended that you are considering other jobs -– they are being upfront about the fact that they can’t guarantee you a full-time job, so they shouldn’t be surprised that you’re considering better offers. If you haven’t accepted their offer yet, it’s perfectly legitimate to ask for more time to make your decision. It’s possible they won’t give it to you, but you won’t know if you don’t ask. And don’t be anxious about pressuring Company Y – outstanding offer deadlines is something that any smart hiring manager would ask about anyways.

I think it’s a bad idea to accept the offer and then renege on it if you get the second job. Again, I agree with the “it’s not personal, it’s business” line, but being businesslike means acting professionally and respecting professional norms. Maybe this is different for your industry (and it very well could be, so take this with a grain of salt), but for a lot of fields, this type of thing is extremely frowned upon and would reflect badly on you. A company that gave candidates offers and then rescinded them would get a terrible professional reputation, and it’s no different on the other end.

EDaily (#4,396)

@sherlock Yeah, you have to be careful if you’re going to burn a bridge like that.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@sherlock I agree with you. “It’s not personal, it’s business” is what makes it okay to ask for another week or two weeks to decide. (This is a case where I draw different boundaries for salaried office work versus a job like waiting tables — where a new person could start later today if we needed.)

tussock (#1,296)

I agree with the spirit of Logan’s advice but not the substance. I would advise the writer to inform Employer X that she needs more time because of Employer Y’s interview, explaining that while a full-time salaried job at Employer X is her top choice, she can’t pass up the opportunity at Employer Y in the given circumstances. And if necessary tell Employer Y that she needs action sooner than Dec. 1 because she has an offer from Employer X. In other words, be honest, but use this situation to your advantage!

OllyOlly (#669)

I do not agree with this advice. Don’t be afraid to ask for more time reviewing your contract, I think especially with Thanksgiving you could say, “I am really excited about the position, but with Holiday travel I would like I a few extra days to review things.” They probably won’t even be in the office that week either. Then if your interview goes well, follow up with a “thank you so much for the interview opportunity. I was really excited about XYZ. I did want to mention that I recently received another offer and have to make a decision soon.”

I did this for my first job. The second company even found a way to issue a contingency offer while waiting for my reference check as a means of speeding things up. This type of thing would happen all the time, people are usually always applying for multiple jobs at a time and HR departments know this.

Don’t feel guilty about making the first company wait, if they could provide the best offer- you’d work there, so that’s on them. I even remember in college getting advice that “shotgun offers” are a bad deal, having a bit of time to review a new contract is normal.

raw money (#3,975)

I was once yelled at by an interviewer who hadn’t yet made me an offer when I told her that I had accepted another offer (a way better one). I hadn’t meant to deceive her into thinking she had more time to decide, and she was wrong to yell at me, but it made me realize that it’s better to be crystal clear about your timeline to avoid burned bridges. I agree with the commenters who say to ask Company X for a firm deadline and let Company Y know about it.

WayDownSouth (#3,431)

I think this is very bad advice by Logan and would definitely not pursue the action she recommends.

If you accept the first job offer, then you have made a commitment to them. They will take action based on the verbal commitment. It’s very poor form to then back out on it. I assume that they would be very unhappy. It’s a small world. Someday you may need help from one of the people involved and you’d have wasted their goodwill toward you for nothing.

j a y (#3,935)

It depends on the situation – how large your industry is, how petty your potential hiring company can be.

If yours is an everyone-knows-everyone kind of field, you have to be very careful not to damage your reputation. If it’s a large city with a starter/low-rank job then you don’t want to risk your bird in the hand.

Personally, I would err on the side of not telling them and the possibility that it might affect (maybe needlessly) their perception of your ‘loyalty’.

If the second job results in an offer that you want to take, then don’t lose your cool, be SUPER professional and apologetic IN PERSON – “I’m sorry, I know this is an inconvenience but I’ve received an unanticipated job offer that I cannot turn down financially.”

(You didn’t know you’d be offered the job when you took the interview, you don’t have to give details about the interview.)

Offer as much notice as your new company will allow (new company should be understanding and appreciate your ethics – otherwise it’s a warning sign). If you love the old company, tell them you’d rather stay if there was a full time job you could work at. Act sad.

If they act like jerks, they’d probably act like jerks after spending so much time interviewing you.

Liz the Lemur (#3,125)

Unlike other people, I wholeheartedly agree with Logan. Your evaluation is what matters most in this situation, and even though it might make other people a bit unhappy, you have to do what’s right for you. If that means that you place your security and happiness above an employer’s feelings, that’s okay. They know it’s tough out there. They know you’re making difficult choices. As long as you’re sincere, you should be fine.

baf (#5,342)

I work in HR, and I would totally do what Logan advised. They are two separate things. Plus job X is a conrtact for 6 months, nothing permanent. And yes, who knows if Job Y is going to pan out? And if I know anything in HR is that it can take up to month to get offer letters out etc. Also, if they want to hire you full time they will be ok with waiting for you to finish your 2 weeks notice or whatever.
Also the ‘we will have full time in 3-5 months’ half of the time is a big fat LIE! They can say whatever they want at the interview then go back on it later. HR folks are sneaky like that! (not me though!)

Kissy (#5,345)

Hi I’ve lurked on this site for ages now and have today registered for the sole purpose of saying that whoever selected that pic that accompanies this article is an absolute star!!

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