should you keep interviewing after accepting a job offer?

A reader writes:

I’ve been job hunting for a few months now, and in the past few weeks I’ve received a number of interviews all at once. I interviewed for one position last week, but in the meantime I also scheduled two interviews at other companies for this week.

The other day I received a job offer from my first interview and they needed an answer ASAP. It was the job I most wanted so I accepted, but since my other two interviews are for this week and there isn’t much time to let them know I’ve already accepted a job, would it be completely wrong to just go to the interviews and then if I get any job offers from them let them know I’ve accepted a position somewhere else?

Another reason I want to do this is just to find out a bit more about those roles so I never look back and wonder “What if I made the wrong choice?”

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 145 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Detective Amy Santiago

    Not only is it a kindness to other people who might get that interview slot if you cancel, but it’s really unfair to waste the interviewer’s time.

    Reply
    1. Casuan

      I very much agree. OP, the ASAP might be what’s tripping you up here. If this was the job you most wanted, have you any reason to think you wouldn’t have accepted it if ASAP wasn’t a factor?
      Or if you hadn’t received the other interview requests, would you still be wondering about all of the jobs are from the companies who never even contacted you?

      This is also about your integrity, OP. Although I totally understand the tendency, don’t think of “if” scenarios. Instead, concentrate on your new job- which is the job you wanted the most!- & rock it!!

      Reply
    2. Shadow

      It’s only a waste of time if there is zero chance you’ll accept. And it sounds like the lw is at least open to an offer

      Reply
      1. MegaMoose, Esq

        I could see the employers seeing it as a waste of their time given the fact that he’s accepted another offer already, which could come back to bite the LW later. At least in my personal experience and profession, a lot of people really don’t like spending time on hiring.

        Reply
      2. Annonymouse

        But they’ve already accepted another offer.

        That’s the crux of the issue.

        If the offer was on the table and they’re thinking it over its ok to interview with other companies because they can and might take their offers instead.

        No bridges burnt, no wrong doing, no promises broken.

        But OP has accepted the offer. Which means all other offers are off the table because they’re going with this.

        To put it to a dating/literary analogy:
        Lucy from Dracula has 3 men courting her and ends up with 3 proposals.

        After the three offers she makes her choice.

        It would have been very wrong to accept the first offer, continue flirting with the other 2 then dump the guy she accepted for a better offer.

        Reply
    3. Bolt

      It can even be a waste of the interviewee’s time to go and do an interview.

      Not all first interviews are a 30 minute in/out chat. I’ve had interviews go on for hours and once I was stuck there an entire afternoon basically doing a surprise exam.

      For the interview with the exam, I KNEW I did not want the job only a few minutes into the interview… but I didn’t want to decline because my ego drove me to want to get an offer JUST to get an offer.

      It wasn’t fair to waste the interviewer’s entire afternoon goofing around with an exam for a job I had no intention of taking if offered; it also wasn’t fair to myself.

      Reply
      1. Casuan

        You weren’t the only one at fault here, Bolt. If the interviewer knew there was a possibility you might be asked to take an exam, they should have ensured you were given the appropriate infos so you could block your time accordingly. Once you interviewed & were told of the exam, they activated a power dynamic with the expectation that you would comply.
        disclaimer: This assumes you weren’t offered to reschedule the test. Even if you were, there’s still a power dynamic because the applicant might reasonably assume the delay could hinder one’s chances for the job.

        Reply
      2. JM in England

        I too have had unannounced exams and other tests/assessments sprung on me during interviews. Like Bolt, saw this as an instant red flag that turned me off of the employer. However, in my case, did not leave immediately out of courtesy plus I was unemployed at the time and needed to get an offer……….

        Reply
    4. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      This. If I can scratch an interview off my schedule, that’s not an inconvenience, that’s a gift. It already takes massive amounts of time out of my regular work to hire somebody. I don’t want to have my time wasted by someone who already has an offer in hand. I’ll take that hour and get something else done that I’ve been punting on.

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Absolutely agreed. I would much rather cancel an interview than hold an interview that is 1000% useless for both parties. The only downside is if someone traveled from out of area to make the interview, but that would have been a downside, regardless.

        Reply
  2. Ramona Flowers

    I’ve been in this position except I just had one other interview. I was offered the job I most wanted and could take time to think but not enough to go to the other interview.

    My husband asked me: if you don’t take this job, will you wonder what if? And if you don’t go to this interview, ditto? My answers were yes, and probably not. I took the job and never regretted it.

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      Oh and the more you find out about the other roles, the more you set yourself up to wonder what if!

      Reply
    2. NoMoreMrFixit

      I had this happen once. Accepted a job offer after they rewrote the job description and got the position reclassified a couple of paybands higher. 10 minutes after giving my boss my resignation, company B called me for an interview. I told them I just accepted another offer and had to decline the interview. The manager wasn’t terribly happy to hear that but I stood firm. 2 years later the second company was out of business. Glad I stuck to my guns.

      Reply
  3. Elle

    I heard this as Job Hunting Advice a while back – you should keep interviewing and job hunting until you had been in your new job for at least two weeks. It just seemed crazy – what if you had an interview come up the second week of your new job? You won’t have any PTO accrued by then and asking for the time off with that short of notice is going to make you look flaky and unreliable even if you end up not pursuing the other job option. I wonder if whoever was giving that advice suggested other overly aggressive/useless things like making a point to visit all potential employers in person to drop off your resume and application even if they say not to come to the office.

    Reply
      1. Jerry Vandesic

        If there was misrepresentation by the new employer, you might want a backup. There have been some AAM letters that touch on that topic (“I just joined my new employer this week, and already want to quit”), but I would think that this situation would be rare. Continuing to interview in case your new employer was dishonest about the role seems like overkill.

        Reply
    1. Biff

      I think it’s good advice to continue interviewing, and here’s a few situations that illustrate why:

      1. Compensation at new job isn’t as expected. (This just happened to someone I know. The company had glosses over compensation/sugar coated it in the offer, and due to a series of very high deductions, the take home pay is meh.)

      2. The person who hired you/would have been your boss has left or been fired and the replacement SUCKS.

      3. You come into a drastically different job than you thought you’d agreed to, or the hours are not as described.

      4. The company is suddenly doing layoffs or hiring freezes, or otherwise indicating all is not well.

      5. Turns out the job isn’t permanent or is only for the duration of a project.

      Reply
      1. Biff

        Also, needing time off in the first few months should be handled with some unpaid leave. People can and do have appointments and I think that’s okay.

        Reply
      2. Audiophile

        These issues certainly pop up, but rarely are they that immediate.

        1. My current job gave benefits information, but not actual costs/payroll deductions at the offer stage. Yes, it’s reduced my take home by quite a bit. However, going forward I will now be a little more pushy in getting that information at the offer stage.

        2. This happened in my last job. I started, went on a preplanned vacation and came back to no immediate supervisor. Not much I could have done at that point. Though I did start job searching again. It resulted in interviews but no offers. It was super stressful trying to keep all of that a secret.

        3. Last job also had this problem, certain duties were not disclosed until my first day. Had I known all of this, I might have turned the offer down.

        4. A few months into that job, there were payroll issues. Yes, the job had a of problems.

        Reply
      3. Jen S. 2.0

        I agree that getting there and figuring out *immediately* (like, within a week or two) that it wasn’t what you thought, or that things changed a lot between interview and start date, or that the situation was wildly misrepresented, means that you should reopen your job search like you never ended it. Everyone gets a get-out-of-job-free card about once a decade or so.

        But once a decade or so should be rare enough that you shouldn’t assume it will always happen.

        Reply
      4. Jady

        #4 happened to me a few years ago. The literal day I started at the new company, a hiring freeze was implemented. Few months in, things were changing a lot.

        A few months after that, the “Star” of the biggest project in that office branch quit in a very… loud manner. And to make it clear how big a “Star” this person was, they had a contract that ensured a big payout on leaving, regardless of the reason. (This is in the US!)

        A few months after that, massive office layoffs. Shortly after this I got a new job.

        A year later, the entire branch was closed.

        Reply
    2. TrainerGirl

      The only time I ever interviewed after accepting a position was during the period where I’d been laid off 3x in 13 months. I accepted a contract offer, and only attended the additional interview because it was a full-time position and I really wanted some permanence after all of the upheaval. As it turned out, one of the jobs I’d been laid off from had an opening and I went back after 3 months. As a general rule, I wouldn’t do it again but in that situation I didn’t feel bad about it.

      Reply
      1. Jen S. 2.0

        I feel like that’s different because you were on a contract. Just like it’s accepted that temps are likely looking and may need the occasional morning off for an interview, contract folks are likely looking for their next contract (or a full time gig). You’re not searching for a full time gig a week after accepting a full time gig.

        Reply
  4. TeacherNerd

    I think it shows a certain amount of integrity in being upfront: You interviewed for a job you wanted; you were offered the position; you accepted the position. Unless the interview is the same day as the aforementioned job offer (like, I could foresee being offered a job in the morning, but you have an interview for another position later that day), “later this week” means perhaps others who weren’t offered an interview might be able to schedule one.

    You could be upfront: “I was offered a position, but I wanted to sincerely thank you for having been given the opportunity to interview for this position!” (Or you could simply say “my circumstances have changed,” if you wanted to minimize the impact of hurt feelings, etc.”) I would think that this would be more respectful and kind than wasting your time and theirs if you haven’t any intention of accepting another position.

    Reply
    1. De Minimis

      I actually had someone call me with a job offer while I was driving to another interview!

      I went ahead and did the other interview, but it was an odd situation to be in.

      Reply
      1. The IT Manager

        In case it does make sense to interview, though, because you didn’t have time to decided and get all the facts before your next interview.

        In this LW’s case it doesn’t

        Reply
      2. Detective Amy Santiago

        Your comment reminded me that I had a similar situation! I was standing outside the building where I was going for my interview and got a phone call offering me another position that I ultimately accepted.

        Reply
      3. Jen S. 2.0

        These are different to me because you hadn’t yet accepted. All you had was a stronger bargaining position!

        Reply
    2. Mike C.

      This actually happened to me. But I took the interview because the offer was contingent on a background check and drug screen. I knew I would pass (and I did), but I had never done those before so I didn’t know how what exactly to expect.

      Reply
      1. De Minimis

        In my case, it was a tentative offer where they said the salary but I still had to begin the preliminary background checks. It wasn’t a firm offer and a lot could have happened to derail things.

        More recently, I had a call about a job offer almost right after an interview [which had not gone so well] so that was a nice feeling.

        Reply
      2. Your Weird Uncle

        I had the same situation – both with regard to the timing of job offer / interview, and the background check. I declined the upcoming interview and they were grateful to know about it in advance. My background check took aaaaaaaaages to clear, though, because red tape, so it was even a few weeks longer than I anticipated starting!

        Reply
      3. KellyK

        I think that’s reasonable. If an offer is contingent on anything, it’s not final. Even if you know you’re squeaky clean, you shouldn’t take a job offer as guaranteed until all the contingencies are addressed. Mistakes on background checks or drug tests are rare, sure, but nothing is final until it’s final.

        Reply
  5. De Minimis

    For me it would depend on how concrete the job offer was….if a start date, salary, etc. was already hammered out I don’t think it would be right to continue to interview.

    If it’s more vague than that [like if you’ve accepted but are still waiting on crucial details] I think it’s fine to keep interviewing.

    Reply
    1. Antilles

      Personally, I’d say that if you don’t have a start date, salary, and other details nailed down, you don’t actually *have* a Job Offer. You have a general agreement to keep the process going, nothing more.

      Reply
      1. Annonymouse

        Agreed.

        Those details should be hammered out before accepting – because what if suddenly the role or dates change or the salary/time off/benefits aren’t something you’d even consider?

        By accepting though one assumes that those are all agreeable to both parties and moving forward with a firm date.

        Reply
    2. not really a lurker anymore

      Or if the offer is contingent on passing assorted security/credit checks.

      My spouse had a written offer from company A with that clause in it. He interviewed with company B while the background check stuff was going on. What he learned is that he really likes a lot of things about company B but a primary part of the team communication would drive him nuts. So he’s reaching out to company B to withdraw from consideration as he’s accepted another offer. Company B is huge though.

      Reply
    3. cncx

      i agree.

      in my jurisdiction (random foreign country) employees are protected once an offer letter is sent, so where i live, i would continue to interview until i got the offer letter. in the past i have kept interviews until i got the offer letter then shut things down. i think it is a kindess to other people who may want job 2 to free up the interview slot.

      Reply
  6. Shadow

    I did it. And I don’t regret it one bit. I took a job mostly because I needed income and it was In my field, but it was not the job really wanted. I continued looking for the job I really wanted and found it just a few months later. Both my boss and co workers were a bit disappointed, but completely understood and said they would have done the same thing. Every aspect of the job and company was better. I don’t for one bit think you should sacrifice those types of opportunities simply because of the implied expectation to stay for a while. When I accept a job I’m accepting that company’s best offer for my services. If you want me to commit for a specified amount of time in then that needs to be discussed up from and agreed to. Because if you don’t give me any sort of guarantee of employment it doesn’t make sense for me guarantee anything either.

    Reply
    1. kmb213

      I don’t really think that’s all that similar to the OP’s situation. The job offer she’s accepted is for the position she most wanted, not just a job she took out of necessity.

      Reply
        1. Annonymouse

          That’s like saying bread and fish are the same because they’re both food.

          OP has accepted an offer to work for company A. But they have interviews with companies B & C.

          They should withdraw from those because they’ve committed to A.

          If A doesn’t work out they can start interviewing again. But to continue interviewing once committed to another company?

          Not cool and likely to damage their reputation more than leaving a job quickly.

          Reply
    2. Jady

      “If you want me to commit for a specified amount of time in then that needs to be discussed up from and agreed to. Because if you don’t give me any sort of guarantee of employment it doesn’t make sense for me guarantee anything either.”

      My thoughts exactly.

      The employee has so much more at stake, so much more risk, and such higher expectations than (a US) company.

      Just some examples of imbalance*:
      An employee is expected to give 2 weeks+ notice. Employers are not expected to give advanced notice of layoffs or firings, and giving severance’s pay is considered generous.

      The company owns anything and everything you do at your job and can profit off it indefinitely. But they are not obligated to give you any compensation for how much value you contribute to the company.

      A company can expect you to tolerate some awful situations (we read about a lot of them here!), and be grateful to have a job. But an employee could be fired for just missing a day of work, or arguing with the wrong person.

      * Yes, a “good” company won’t do crap like this. Unfortunately a lot of people can’t rely on having a “good” company, and a company is not obligated to be “good” to be successful and profitable. Also, referring to typical businesses, not startups or mom-pop shops.

      What does a typical successful company lose for having a bad employee? Typically, some money and time. Maybe some stress for coworkers or delays in work, depending on the job. Maybe double that for a good employee, but rarely long-term substantial impact.

      What does a employee lose for having a bad company? Healthcare, mental health, retirement finances and dates, stress, vacations, pay increases and advancement of positions – which affect future earnings.

      I know I’m very anti-company / establishment / capitalism. Yet I’m employed on a senior position, 10 years experience, in a business making great money.

      But my opinion, as I quoted – is if they want guarantees from me, they have to guarantee some things to me.

      But US companies don’t do that.

      Reply
  7. hbc

    The potential benefit to you is so very small (hey, little bit more knowledge about these two other companies) and the potential downside is so very, very big.

    I mean, just imagine how many times you’d have to lie or be evasive and just generally be awkward. (What would you say when asked when you’d be able to start, for example?) If they ask to move you to the next step, they will absolutely put two and two together and know you had no intention of taking the job. That’s something that people will remember if you apply there again.

    Reply
          1. fposte

            Well, it’s not until you die; people do get to leave jobs :-). But in general you don’t keep a search going when you’ve taken a job just in case something similar but better turns up. (There are plenty of exceptions like temp vs. perm, PT vs. FT, of course.)

            Reply
            1. Shadow

              Why not? if you want to lock someone in you use a contract? I don’t think you have to commit until you line up your first day to report to work. Because nothing’s final at a job offer. Most job offers come conditionally which means they still have the option to back out if drug screens, background checks, employment verifications aren’t to they’re liking. You’re not committed to working there until you commit to showing up.

              Reply
              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Does that mean, though, that you’re okay with companies continuing to interview candidates after someone else has accepted their offer and maybe hiring one of them if they like them better (and revoking the first person’s offer)? Most people aren’t okay with that, and that goes both ways.

                Reply
                1. Shadow

                  Of course not but the stakes and options are usually very different. Job offers options arent as plentiful as candidates.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Sure, but the whole set-up relies on both sides assuming the other is operating in good faith when they say they’ve committed to a job or a hire.

                3. Shadow

                  And of course a great job is my livelihood while filling a job usually doesn’t have a similar impact on the company.

                4. Shadow

                  are you suggesting that people should pass up a better job because of some unspoken obligation to the first job?

                5. fposte

                  If they’ve committed to a job, that’s not an unspoken loyalty, that’s a spoken one. If they haven’t committed, then they can do whatever they want.

                  Really they can do whatever they want in either case, since the job police don’t come and get them. But in my small field, if I found out you were looking after you’d said yes to us it would be a problem for me; depending on the exact configuration of the job, your level, etc., that problem could lose you some definite opportunities in the field.

                6. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Actively looking for another job after having already accepted one? Yeah, I’m suggesting people not do that.

                  It’s different if something falls in your lap and you can’t pass it up.

                7. Detective Amy Santiago

                  @Shadow

                  You’ve obviously never done hiring or worked for a small business that missing a crucial staff member.

                  How is it okay to let an employer believe that they’ve filled a role and then say “haha just kidding”? Not only are you leaving the company high and dry, but you might have inadvertently screwed someone else out of that opportunity.

                8. Shadow

                  I get where you’re coming from- it’s hugely disappointing to have a candidate back out and it feels like a complete waste. But I just can’t not be sympathetic to someone who’s trying to better their situation. And I would tell all of my friends they’d be stupid to turn down an opportunity to better themselves even if it meant backing out of a prior commitment. And of course I’d also tell them they’d also need to be straightforward and apologetic about backing out.

                9. Shadow

                  Set. Santiago,

                  Yes I do hire and I’ve done it for small business and yes it sucks when I’m in employer mode, but when I look at it from their perspective it’s hard to fault them for taking a job and continuing to look for something that usually means they’ll be happier.

                10. Jady

                  I don’t understand why you think that they don’t do that.

                  Just for an ethical example, my company is hiring multiple software developers. I’ve interviewed half of them. We may get one, love them, give them an offer. But we’re still interviewing for the next 4 positions.

                  It’s completely plausible we could interview X people on one day, give an offer to all of them, interview Y more people scheduled for the next month already (because say we need to fill 2 more positions), realize all of them are stronger than the previous. Since it’s not in budget to hire X+Y, an offer(s) could be pulled.

                  Even if it’s rare, we know companies do pull offers, for whatever reason. And we know companies aren’t always run by ethical people.

                  I think we don’t see it frequently only because it’s rare for a company to get too many top quality employees interviewing for the same position.

              2. Annonymouse

                Shadow you seem to forget something: You accepted an offer!
                This means you agreed to work at company starting on date doing job and getting paid monies.

                If the offer is on the table – meaning it’s made and you haven’t accepted it yet then yes, of course we all agree that you can try to get more offers and accept the one that suits you best. But once you accept an offer and sign the employment contract it is dishonest to keep looking.

                Let me put it to you another way.

                You are selling your house. Someone makes an offer and you accept. They pay a deposit (not the settlement) and start to do the paperwork.

                Based off this you make plans to move out. Maybe into your new property that you need the money from this sale to complete.

                The day before settlement the person buying it goes “Yeah, found another property I like better for cheaper. Sorry.”

                You of course are floored. Technically and legally they are right but they acted improperly.

                Based off their accepting your price you took your house off the market and will have to try and go through it all again to get another buyer.

                You also made plans around the money you thought they were going to give you – you had no reason not to and you are in a bind.

                And you did the right thing – once you accepted their offer you didn’t keep shopping around for buyers to get a better price.

                Reply
                1. Shadow

                  would you take your house off the market based on a verbal agreement. Most home buyers/sellers I know know nothing’s final until a contract is signed and all of the contingencies are worked through.

                2. Jady

                  You’re forgetting from the other perspective too. I can offer X on a house and get an agreement with the owner. At any point until I’ve gone through and signed all the legal paperwork, the owner can sell to someone else or just refuse to sell at all.

                  That happens. A lot. And that’s the employee’s side.

                  The key problem is: “Technically and legally they are right but they acted improperly.”

                  As long as one party can technically and legally do something to screw you over, it’s typically smart not to put all your eggs in one basket.

                3. Annonymouse

                  You made an agreement and started on the paperwork. They’ve give you money.

                  You have/had no reason to believe they’d not follow through.

                  What you and OP are suggesting is worse. You’ve (presumably) signed an employment contract. You’ve set up a start date. You’re all set to go and then you don’t.

                  And it’s not for an exceptional circumstance (serious illness, suddenly need to move, witness protection etc) it’s because after you gave your commitment you went with someone else.

          2. Detective Amy Santiago

            What fposte said.

            You’re going to develop a bad reputation if you leave jobs after a few weeks because something better came along. Once you accept an offer, you need to make a good faith effort at performing in the position. Sure, not every job works out, but if you’re going in with one foot out the door, that’s a recipe for failure.

            Reply
            1. Shadow

              That’s only true when it’s a really tight knit niche field. most hiring managers don’t go around warning all of their colleagues about specific candidates.

              Reply
              1. Detective Amy Santiago

                Not necessarily.

                My boss told me about someone she was planning to interview who happened to work for the same mega corp I used to work for. Guess what? I worked with that person at mega corp and it was not a good experience. Boss has decided not to interview after all.

                People talk.

                Reply
                1. Lisa

                  I had pretty much the exact same experience – they did not get the job they were applying for.

      1. fposte

        So long as you’re okay with getting an offer rescinded if they find a better candidate at a lower salary.

        Reply
      2. Antilles

        Also simple: If you have another interview scheduled that you think will lead to a better offer/job, don’t immediately jump to accept the first offer.

        Reply
      3. Tuxedo Cat

        I think it would have to be a pretty big upgrade. For example, in higher education, if it were the difference between a tenure-track job and an adjunct or non-tenure track instructor position , I think people on a whole would be understanding but that’s a huge difference in jobs.

        Reply
      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        Accepting a counter offer from your current employer to keep you is completely different.

        Reply
        1. MegaMoose, Esq

          But I would think that if you’re in the position to consider a counter-offer, you’d raise the issue before accepting the new offer. It’s possible something amazing comes out of left field after you accept the new offer, but I still don’t see it as a wise move, career-wise.

          Reply
          1. Detective Amy Santiago

            I wouldn’t give notice until I accepted an offer. If I did that and my current employer was so determined to keep me that they were willing to match/go over my offer, I would probably consider it. Depending on my reasons for leaving.

            Reply
            1. MegaMoose, Esq

              I’ve never been in that kind of situation myself, but that makes sense. I just realized that, once I got out of my retail stage, I have actually never quit a job for the reason of going to a better job.

              Reply
              1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

                Very common in the IS/IT world. If I was at to accept another slot – before accepting I would always give my own management one more shot at negotiation.

                While some “experts” – usually recruiters who stand to lose their fee if you accept a counter offer advise never to accept one, sometimes a manager’s hands are tied in a “stick to your guns until he makes good on a resignation” policy. In my career, I’ve had some counter-offers work out well for me. There have been some I would have been crazy to accept.

                Reply
          2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

            The way you approach this – is “well, I love working here, but I have a job offer from (whatever) company. They’re going to give me the chance to do A, B, and C, which I’ve wanted to do here but never given the chance. I’m also going to be higher up on the ‘food chain’ and (if relevant) (financial increase).”

            Then gauge the reaction. It might be “I would like to discuss the matter with others before accepting your resignation” or “good luck, you’ll do well.” If it’s the former, you give them a chance – but do not get pulled into “gee whiz or maybe next year” or the classic “this is something we can work toward, maybe”.

            Reply
        2. Jady

          Factually or not – I don’t know.

          But, there’s a common sentiment rolling around that if you do this, your employer takes this as a sign that you’re unhappy and looking at other places. Therefore, they start looking to replace you, and may find that replacement and then you’re out the door without a job at all.

          Reply
      1. Sibley

        Yes. Accept a written offer. It’s been that kinda of day – sent an email to a coworker that said “squirrels” accidentally.

        Reply
    1. Cookie

      I disagree whole-heartedly. I once got an offer for a job with a start date one month out, so I accepted it and stopped looking. Then something happened in the interim and their situation changed and I was out of a job and had to start my search all over again. My philosophy is keep interviewing until you actually start, because the job doesn’t exist I til day 1 on the job.

      Reply
  8. Mike C.

    I presume the advice changes if we’re talking about accepting an offer pending a background check or other conditions? I think in those situations the offer isn’t complete, and something could still go horribly wrong.

    Reply
    1. Lily Rowan

      I’ve gotten a job offer contingent on their talking to my then-current supervisor, and I still think that’s the worst thing ever. I mean, a horrible boss could just tank your offer to keep you on their team, right?

      Reply
      1. Mike C.

        That is such a terrible contingency. The current boss has a massive incentive to influence the final decision and if they decide no, it really screws over the candidate. Given that so many other hiring managers are able to make a decision without hearing from the current manager, I think it’s an incredibly unreasonable thing to ask.

        Reply
    2. Parcae

      Yeah, sometimes a job offer is not actually a job offer. Personally, I think that if an offer was firm enough that I felt comfortable giving notice at my existing job, then I’d decline any other interviews. There’s nuance in that too, though. I don’t think I’d judge anyone for going on an interview unless there was no way they could accept an offer and still deal in good faith with any other current or prospective employers.

      Reply
    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yeah, if there are still contingencies, it’s not a done deal until those are removed. The level of commitment needs to be the same on both sides.

      Reply
      1. Lison

        My current job I interviewed and was offered the job at a salary which was slightly lower than what my effective salary was at the time (higher than my base and shift allowance but not higher than I was earning because of compulsory overtime). I accepted because I hated three shift and mandatory overtime even if it was well compensated and after I had accepted got told that the corporation had eliminated the position, sorry. Luckily I had not handed in my notice. I didn’t have a signed contract so I wasn’t telling anyone. A few months later the recruiter got a message that corporate had accepted the position needed to exist and I was their top candidate and would I consider taking the job now. After due consideration I agreed I would but no more interviews and then the HR person who hadn’t been there when the original offer was made started trying to get me to accept a lower salary on the grounds it was outside the band for that job (think like 700 dollars a year) and I said no I didn’t ask for more money but I wasn’t going to take less. The same HR person then pressured me to give in my notice before I had the signed contract so I could meet their desired start date. That was a hard no. You offered me a job, withdrew the offer, try to lowball me on my salary and want me to quit my job without a legally binding contract? Nope. Even though my job at the time would have taken me back if I had asked, still no. I’m not doing that. It was an example of very bad HR and not the company itself (I have other stories about this HR person) but the TLDNR is never consider a job offer as a done deal until it’s final and you should still interview if it is conditional keep up the search but personally if it’s a done deal don’t waste other people’s time and give someone else a shot.

        Reply
    4. Bye Academia

      Agreed.

      A major exception to Alison’s advice above is academia. You don’t have a job until you have a signed contract. You can negotiate and accept the offer, but final approval still usually has to go through some deans/the provost. Until they rubber stamp the hire, it’s not a done deal. While it’s not exactly common, jobs still fall through at that stage and it would be foolish to cancel an interview.

      Plus cases like you mention, where it’s still a soft offer contingent on a background check, references, etc.

      But in most cases the process is not so formal, and once you accept the job offer it’s considered complete. For a position like that, I would stop interviewing.

      Reply
      1. Mike C.

        Wasn’t there a really famous case where the practice was that a professor could start teaching with the expectation that the contract would come later, but then the contract was later revoked over some public statements made by the professor? I want to say that it happened in the past few years or so but I can’t think of the name. I want to say it was at the University of Chicago, but I could be way off there.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          You are thinking of the University of Illinois. And it was handled really, really poorly, the university was censured, and Salaita got money.

          Reply
  9. Lisa

    Having been an interviewer I would be extremely irritated that someone wasted my time when they already had another job and had no intention of actually taking a job I was interviewing them for. Now it depends on the type of position but the positions we were hiring for took a lot of time and effort to interview and there were limited amounts of candidates we could look at. Someone taking one of those slots is not only unfair to the interviewer but unfair to someone else who might lose out on an interview. If I figured it out that you had interviewed and wasted my time I would have kept your resume around with a big NO in the future written on it. Now if it was an industry that quick interviews with a lot of candidates come through that might be different but in mine it would be a big no no.

    Reply
    1. Lisa

      Oh and even if you think it’s “too late to cancel” it’s not. I’d rather have a last minute cancellation and get an hour of my time back and not have to have a candidate in the mix who doesn’t want the job.

      Reply
      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        For real! I probably have 100 emails to go through or other things that I can spend that hour doing.

        Reply
  10. Not a Real Giraffe

    I think it’s situations like this where it’s important to learn how to firmly push back. You accepted the offer because they wanted an answer “ASAP,” even though you knew you had other interviews in the pipeline. I think it’s reasonable (and important) to stand your ground and say politely, but firmly, “I’d like a few days to think this offer over.” If they give you a hard time, I think it’s fine to say, “I have a few other roles that I have been interviewing for and I want to be sure I’m moving into the right role.” It’s possible that saying this will cause the company to pull the offer, but I don’t think I would want to work somewhere that pressured me to drop my entire decision-making process in order to agree to work for them.

    At any rate, the time for that is past, and I agree with Alison that you need to stand by your word and withdraw from consideration in the other roles.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      I also think it’s okay to try to push the other interviews up a bit, too. I’ve certainly been in situations in which a school wants me (but hasn’t made an official offer) and has said “If another school makes you an offer, please let me know immediately.” There’s no reason if your interviews are next week at the other places that you can’t say to those other places “Hey, I’m interested in your company, but I have a job offer on the table now, and I’d like to get back to them soon. Is there any way to move up my interview schedule?” They may so “Nope. We have things planned the way they are, and we don’t have flexibility,” or they may say “Thanks for letting us know, can we get back to you to see if we can arrange to get you here earlier?”

      Reply
      1. Not a Real Giraffe

        Absolutely. This also gives you the benefit of getting some insight into how strong of a candidate you are to them. If my top candidate said this to me, I’d be much more willing to rejigger my hiring timeline than someone who I’m less enthusiastic about.

        Reply
    2. Kate

      Yes, I am always suspicious of those “we need someone ASAP” job ads. It tells me:

      1) they can barely handle having one position open, or can’t handle coverage at all 2) they might not be as careful as they should be when hiring to make sure they have a good fit and what kind of team might you be walking into
      3) they don’t care much about your time and what else might be going on in your life that you want even just 2 days to consider the offer.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous Educator

        In all fairness, this wasn’t, if I’m understanding the situation correctly, a job ad saying they need someone ASAP but a job offer needing an answer ASAP. That said, I do find that off-putting for a job offer as well. Every good place I’ve worked has always encouraged me to take time to think over the offer before signing anything or even making a verbal agreement (e.g., “Take a couple of days, and talk it over with your spouse”).

        Reply
      2. Annonymouse

        My work needs an answer ASAP to fill my position because mine is a pivotal role, the new person needs training and I’m out on maternity leave in 3 weeks.

        Even then they’d let them have a few days to think it over.

        Reply
  11. Breda

    Here’s my question: if the job that was offered to you was the one you most wanted, you’re happy with all the terms and the position, and you’ve accepted with no pending issues that could tank the whole thing, why on earth would you want to deal with the hassle of other interviews? Set yourself free! You’re done with job-hunting!

    Reply
    1. I Before E

      It’s sort of like the advice you get when you’re wedding dress shopping. Once you find one you love, you’re supposed to stop looking! If you keep looking, you may find another one you love more, but you’re out the cost of the dress or the deposit at the very least, and then you start questioning your own choices because if you found a dress you loved more than the original, maybe there’s another one out there you’ll love even more than this new one!

      Reply
    2. Jen S. 2.0

      This. Sometimes you don’t have to see absolutely everything else that’s “out there”(wherever that is) to know you’ve done a good job finding a really, really good one that suits you very well. If you’re happy, stop looking and start appreciating the one you have. You generally can only have one at a time.

      (Note that this generally goes for spouses, wedding dresses, houses, used cars, and several other things. A few years back, my sister wanted to drive every used car in her budget on Craigslist before deciding on one, and then she was miffed that the owner sold the one she wanted while she was still looking around. I told her so.)

      Reply
  12. Niccola M.

    Why would you want to? Interviewing sucks.

    Unless, of course, you’re not really feeling the job you thought you wanted. Did one of the higher-ups come off as a bit of a jerk, or a bit loopy? Did a bunch of people leave suddenly, or are about to leave? Does everything just feel off?

    If so, there may be something more here. But you should still make a decision – to keep the job offer and cancel the other interviews or to call the job offer back and “upon further consideration, blah blah, not the best decision for me at this time, apologies”

    Reply
    1. De Minimis

      For me one reason was the job offer I had involved a relocation I didn’t really want to do, and the later job interviews were local. I think that would be one reason to keep going, but it’s pretty rare to be in that situation.

      Reply
  13. RPL

    My partner is sort of in a similar situation, except it’s not a firm offer and the job sucks. She just finished grad school and has an unofficial offer from an employer that threw up HUGE red flags during the application process. She has other interviews scheduled, and I’ve been urging her to hold out for an offer without a bunch of red flags. She argues that we’ve already been hurting financially while she was in school and now we get to add more student loans to the mix, so we can’t exactly afford to be picky when she doesn’t know when another offer will come…which, well, is a good point. Fortunately, we’re waiting on a version of her transcript that lists the conferred degree (which the employer requires before making an official offer, and which the school takes it time providing), so we’ve got time still for another interview to pan out.

    Reply
    1. RPL

      Meant to say: she feels bad about “stringing them along.” I keep telling her not to, and I stand by that. It’s the best she can do in the situation.

      Reply
      1. KellyK

        She’s not stringing them along; she doesn’t have a final offer yet. She knows her field and knows how likely it is, but it’s always possible that things will change on their end while her school is dragging their feet getting her paperwork passed along.

        Reply
  14. Trout 'Waver

    In regards to #4, how often do people interview a strict number of people in such a way that you’re taking a spot from someone else? My organization’s practice is to interview the best candidates regardless of number, usually 2-5 people.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      There are usually degrees of “best” though. I’d cut a candidate who’s good but doesn’t seem quite as good as the other four people I’m already interviewing.

      Reply
    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      And what about #6, who is good, but not quite as good? If #3 bails, why shouldn’t they get a chance?

      Reply
    3. Shadow

      I never really think of it that way- that by interviewing this person I’m eliminating someone else from consideration. Because if that person looked like a good candidate I’d just interview one more…..if that makes sense. And if you’re on the cusp you probably don’t have the best shot of getting the job anyway.

      Reply
      1. Annonymouse

        Not necessarily.
        Some workplaces are very strict on the number of candidates you can interview.

        Also sometimes people interview well but their resume isn’t awesome. (I’m guilty of this.)

        Reply
  15. Anonymous Educator

    Not all interviewees are ethical, just as not all interviewers are ethical. I would never keep interviewing after taking a job, but I know people who have done it, and they have no regrets about the bridges they’ve burned. One person I know accepted a job and a few days later got a job somewhere else, and then she told the first employer “Sorry, but I’m actually going somewhere else.” Kind of skeazy, but the employer was gracious about it. I would never do that, but my friend got the job she ultimately wanted more than the first one.

    I do think the severity of how impolite or unethical it is also depends on what industry you’re in. Some industries are very cutthroat, and there isn’t necessarily as strong a stigma attached to breaking an agreement to work some place. I work in private education, and there is a definitely a strong stigma regarding breaking a contract. I still know people who have done it, but it’s severely frowned upon. You sign on to teach at a school, and you’re really not supposed to keep interviewing elsewhere and potentially sign a contract somewhere else.

    Reply
    1. Former Usher

      What may be different about your industry is the use of contracts. Most jobs in the US are entirely at will.

      I interviewed once with an employer who was worried that I would leave within a year to return to a (larger) previous employer. I said I was open to considering an employment contract, but they immediately shot down that idea. They wanted to maintain the flexibility of terminating my employment. The employer/employee dynamic is very asymmetric.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous Educator

        Well, there’s what’s legal and there’s what’s ethical. Right now, I’m not in a contracted role—I am at will. And a lot of what private schools call contracts are usually just teaching assignments (you would be teaching X, Y, and Z classes next year, for this salary). I’ve never known (I’m sure it may have happened, but not that I’ve seen) a school to take legal action against a teacher for breaking a “contract” by leaving mid-year. Usually the stigma around leaving mid-year is enough to stop a teacher from doing so… sometimes it happens, though.

        That said, even though I could quit right now legally, it is good form to give at least two weeks’ notice. Yes, there is an asymmetric dynamic, whereby an employer could just fire or “let go” an employee with virtually no notice, but that’s how it is. However hiring managers and CEOs like to complain about how bad they can have it, ultimately they have more power than the employee does. If an employee leaves, it’s a temporary inconvenience, and the employer can always find someone (maybe not someone just as good) to fill the position as long as they pay money. The employee who is fired or let go cannot always find a job, though.

        Reply
  16. Anon Anon

    I think this is largely dependent on if you are employed or not.

    If you are currently employed then I think Alison’s advice makes sense. However, if you are not and you are in a financial position where you have to work, then I’m all for continuing to interview. In those situations, often you are taking the first job offered regardless of any misgivings you may have about the fit or the work. You don’t have the luxury to turn down a job offer when you desperately need one. So I think you continue to interview until you start to try and give yourself a few options in that situation with the understanding that if you rescind a job offer you previously accepted you will have burned a bridge.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Though it also has to be remembered that you might lose both jobs by doing that, too; companies that discover you consider your commitment to be meaningless may well pull their offer.

      Reply
      1. Anon Anon

        Absolutely, that is a risk. But, to be honest it’s a risk I think is worth taking. And to me it’s no more risky than looking for a job while you have a job. Early on in my career, I had more than one person I knew who has had a job offer pulled between the time they accepted the offer and their start date.

        I believe when possible you should act as professionally as possible. But, at the same time I think you need to do what is best for you, and sometimes what is best is to keep looking.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous Educator

          And to me it’s no more risky than looking for a job while you have a job.

          I disagree. If I’m a hiring manager, and you’ve said you’re going to take the job, I’m taking the job ads down, and I’m notifying my other candidates they didn’t get the job, which means they’re likely to move on (either just psychologically by writing off my company or actually by taking another job offer). That’s a lot of investment of time and energy down the drain just because you wanted to hedge your bets.

          That is an entirely different situation from a current employee just looking at other jobs.

          Reply
          1. Shadow

            You’ve never called a candidate back and said “the position opened back up. Are you still available.” Isnt it more “how dare they” than “now I have to start all over.”

            Reply
              1. Shadow

                Agreed. But you don’t also think “He probably accepted my job because he needed a paycheck so good for him for finding something that’s more rewarding/fulfilling?”

                Reply
              2. Shadow

                Oops. Hit submit too soon. Would you rather someone stay for say 6 mos who wanted to leave or have them leave before they start?

                Reply
                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I’d rather they leave before they start.

                  That doesn’t mean though that it’s okay to actively job search once they’ve committed accepted a job offer.

              3. Lablizard

                How do you feel when you are out bid? Once I was given a verbal offer, but had nothing in writing, so I told my ThenJob and the other places I had interviewed that I had an offer. Next thing you know, a bunch of them (including my ThenJob) started throwing out some incredible offers. Finally one did a “WOW!” offer that I couldn’t reject. I accepted and let FirstOffer know what SecondOffer pitched. They couldn’t match (hiring manager said, “Whoa, really? You are getting that?”, so SecondOffer became ThenNewJob.

                To my knowledge, there have never been repercussions, but I am not sure if it is because I only had a verbal offer or because the second offer was so good that no one in their right mind would say no.

                Reply
                1. Jen S. 2.0

                  But it sounds like you hadn’t yet accepted the first offer. They had offered, and you were still considering / negotiating with them. That’s very different. OP has said, “yes, I will take the job, at X salary, and I’ll start on Y date,” and they have said, “great, we all agree, see you then.” There’s the distinction. It’s not the existence of an offer, it’s the acceptance of an offer.

                2. Lablizard

                  @nestingisgone

                  Oh no, I accepted. It was verbal. They just hadn’t put anything on paper yet.

  17. Jen

    The week I got my current job, I had interviews for three jobs in three states (two in New England, one in California). Weird ways interviews lined up. (Week with about 40 hours of interview travel, wow.)

    I did the interview for my current job Monday morning, and they called me an offer while I was on the train pulling into the city on Tuesday for the Wednesday interview. They gave me the rest of the week, because I wanted to go through with the other two interviews (especially the Friday one, which would have been a non-reimbursable plane ticket if I had cancelled), for which I’m very grateful.

    The Wednesday interview was not as big a deal, but the Friday interview was one of those possible major pivot points in my life kinds of jobs, and I felt I’d wonder for the rest of my life about that (basically, if a bunch of things had lined up differently, it would have been amazing , and it turned out they didn’t line up into ‘amazing for me’ but I had to do the interview to know.)

    I was pretty sure by about half way through the day (it was a day-long interview) and I basically walked out the door, called a cab, and called the recruiter at my current job to accept when I was done.

    I really adore my current job, a lot, and it’s an amazingly good fit for me on several dimensions (what I get to do, but also work environment, and people I get to work with), but I also really love working somewhere that was willing to give me a few days so I could accept wholeheartedly and without any lingering doubts about whether I was making the right choice.

    Reply
  18. Non Profit Teapot

    I had something sort of similar to OP happen, and here’s how I handled it.
    1) I’d worked for my employer for about three years before applying for promotions. It’s a friendly employer in a friendly industry.
    2) Six months later, while interviewing for a promotion, I was recruited for a better job in the industry at a new organization.
    3) The outside interview process started first, even though my internal promotion application was submitted first.
    4) I ended up being offered the promotion, which I took. This also involved a transfer of location across town.
    5) In my very first week of my new role, outside employer called with an offer. (They had been waiting for HR to come back from vacation to run the background check.) It was in almost every way a superior job, so I took it.
    6) I bought donuts. I sat my boss down and explained the situation. I played up the “this is better for my family” aspect. I gave a generous amount of notice, then I worked my ass of while there. They were able to promote the runner-up, who was thrilled.

    Was it a perfect situation? No. For the life of me, I’m not sure if there was a better way to handle it. I still send donuts or cookies two or three times a year with a note. I know the relationship is strained with my old boss, but others in the organization have been very understanding.

    Reply
  19. Liz

    A similar situation happened to me when I was interviewing for internships in college. The morning of a scheduled interview, I received a call from another company saying I was reconsidered for an internship after their first choice could no longer fulfill his duties for the job, and that since the internship would start the following week (this call happened on a Friday and they needed me to start on Monday), I was put in a position where I’d have to make a quick decision. Fortunately, I was able to ask that they give me until the end of the day to respond, since I had the interview still scheduled. I went through with the interview but I don’t recall whether I said to them at the interview or after it that I had received an offer and would probably accept (that might’ve been out of line, in retrospect, but it would have been more wrong to say I needed an immediate decision from the second place because of the situation with the first). In the end, it was at least helpful for me to have had that interview to see what the job would’ve been like.

    Reply
  20. Hiring Mgr

    Several years ago I was interviewing with two companies, one I kind of liked, and one I liked more for a number of reasons…Of course the first one progressed more quickly, and they made me an offer before the second was fully played out. I asked for a few days to think it over, then extended that by a couple more days…Anyway I was still in the mix for the job I really wanted but I had to give #1 an answer, so I accepted, figuring I would be happy there.

    Of course #2 then comes around with an offer that was better in all phases…So i accepted that one, then had to call #1 and say things had changed. I felt terribly guilty for all the reasons mentioned–i knew i had wasted people’s time, it was a key management role so I set things back on their end, possibly caused other candidates hardship, etc.. I wasn’t too worried about the reputation part, i’m in a large city and there are tons of employers..but i felt pretty bad nonetheless and clearly burned bridges. But in the end I was ok with my decision since I truly felt I was doing the best thing for myself and family.

    Karma ended up winning I guess, since job #2 despite all the great things was probably the worst job of my adult life and I only made it 18 months before I had to leave–…So take that for what it’s worth :)

    Reply
  21. Heffalump

    Continuing to interview after accepting a job offer is a crappy thing to do to everyone involved.

    If I were the interviewer, I would rather the applicant cancel the meeting than waste my time discussing a job they weren’t going to accept in the first place.

    If I were the employer whose job you originally accepted, I would have rejected all my other good applicants after you committed to accepting the job. Other staff may have spent their time processing your employment (HR preparing your contract, payroll to set up your wage payment, admin staff setting up your staff car park arrangements, etc).

    If you are uncertain about whether to accept or not, you should be upfront about that. Yes that risks you losing the offer but it’s better than messing around with other people. This is something you just have to weigh up as with a lot of other decisions. Do I accept now and commit to this job? Or ask for more time and risk being declined?

    I had someone who actually started working with us while she was actively interviewing at other places. She quit 5 days into her job with us. We wasted a lot of time setting her up to work, training her, and we had to pay for the 5 days where she achieved nothing because she was training. That was pretty awful. If she wanted to defer the start date by explaining she wanted to consider other options, we would have been happy to give her time.

    Reply
  22. WaitingforMacaroni

    I did this once. My name was presented via an agency to an employer I was very intrigued by and they were so close that I could walk to work and the salary was right. However, they presented the candidates and the key decision makers all took a three-week vacation and candidates would be looked at when they returned and who knew how long that would take?

    Since I know that I could not reasonably put my life on hold for a maybe since I was unemployed, I continued interviewing, received an offer for a one-year contract at a very different firm and accepted the offer.

    About two weeks into the new job, the first employer wanted to interview me. And I did the interview – the job was permanent (not contract), close to my house, with a competitive salary. I’m glad I did it as the person interviewing was clearly overworked and not a skilled interviewer; the job was not at all what I thought it would be and I discovered during the interview that the owners sometimes brought their personal relationship issues to the office and that there was an office dog, either of which I wanted in my work environment. It turned my “what-if” into a glad I didn’t take it.

    However, the one-year contract turned out not to be a good choice either. You just never know…

    Reply
    1. sstabeler

      That’s actually different though- it’s generally accepted that a temporary worker will be looking for permanent work.

      Reply
  23. HireFreeze

    Hello!

    What if you accepted an offer and that company is now on a hiring freeze with expectations to lay people off due to financial performance?

    I accepted an offer and realize now that it was a mistake! Not only is the company not doing well, but the role wasn’t what I expected. In this instance, would it be fair to continue interviewing? I had just been let go from my last company and would like to avoid that situation again.

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
  24. Grant Marzette

    I’m in a similar position right now.

    I’ve been unemployed for about 4 months now and have been doing a ton of phone interviews. Some have gone to 2nd base and some have not. The first place i interviewed with ended up sending an offer letter but the salary is lower than the job I just left 4 month ago. I need a job, so I accepted the offfer. Overall, I wanted this job more than any other. A second job reached back out to me and they have their benefits as well – a lot of more healthy benefits – and they pay much more. They haven’t reached out to me about an in person interview just yet but employers are getting much slower with that nowadays, where it’ll take them almost 2 weeks to contact the prospective candidate to go into the office and interview. I start the signed offer position on Monday and am afraid that the other employer will ask me to go into the office and interview when I’m only 1-2 weeks into my new job.

    Not entirely sure how to handle the situation. With more money on the table and healthy benefits I feel like I should keep that situation in arms reach, but I also don’t want to burn bridges with the employer that just hired me full time. Sort of a fragile situation, especially when more money for me right now is the key with not being employed for months. I’m still within the twirl of decisions right now and don’t have any choice but to come up with some excuse on why I have to take off from the position I just got hired, to make sure I’m not passing on something I should’ve waited on in the first place.

    What do you guys think?

    Reply

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