A reader writes:
Recently I had a second interview with a company where I met with the other owner and learned a lot of new information, including salary and schedule. At the end of the interview, I was offered the position and I said I would like a day to think it over and talk about it with my family. They said of course and that they would always expect that. Later, when I was talking with my parents, my dad got mad that I would even think about asking them for a day. He said that nobody should be at an interview if they didn’t already know they want to take the job, and furthermore if anybody he interviewed ever said that to him, he would rescind the offer immediately and show them to the door! I was astounded that he has never encountered this, as I have always found it quite the norm. People like to go home, talk with their spouses about what this means for their future, do the math on whether they can afford to take the job for the salary and benefits offered, and sometimes wait to hear back from another company.
My dad hires people all the time and works for a large government contracting company but has not been on an interview since 1984. From what I have read on your site, what I did does not seem egregious, but it has become pretty obvious that everybody hiring has their own rules and expectations and as a job seeker it seems like a losing battle trying to meet all of them. And what do you do when you’re getting information that is clearly outdated (like my mom telling me that offering to work for free is a good idea) but the people who are hiring you are older and may be following this info?
Ignore your dad. It’s very, very normal to ask for some time to think over an offer (and a day is nothing). If your dad is seriously pulling offers from people who ask for a few days to think it over, he must be losing the majority of his top candidates, or he’s working in an industry with really weird norms. An employer who reacts poorly to someone asking for a few days to think over an offer is an employer whose offer you should turn down — it’s a really bad sign about their understanding of professional conventions and how reasonable they’re likely to be in other ways.
About your dad’s statement that no one should be interviewing if they don’t already know they want to take the job — half the point of interviewing is to figure out if you’d want the job, be good at it, etc. No one can come into an interview already knowing that; an interview is a two-way interaction for both sides to assess the other.
I’m sure your dad is a lovely person, but do not take work advice from him.
It’s true that there are all sorts of hiring managers out there with all sorts of ideas about how things should work. You can’t cater to all of them — it would be inherently contradictory — so the best thing to do is to pick the practices that are most likely to screen out bad managers and screen for good ones.