is it strange to email a job offer?

A reader writes:

I had an interesting experience with a company a few weeks ago that I felt handled the job interviewing process a bit sloppily, something a lot friends who are also unemployed and interviewing are noticing these days.

The interview with the hiring manager went well. In fact, the following day I got a voicemail from HR recruiter asking for references. I knew that that the manager wanted to make a decision quickly (recruiter told me), but I was kind of surprised that there were no additional rounds of interviews, since the team consisted of 10+ people.

This is kind of a red flag for me since I’d like to know more about my future peers and the company culture. Also on their end, is the hiring decision based on one person only?
Seem strange?

In addition, based on a couple of incidences, I knew the HR person was either lazy or extremely busy. But she emailed me the job offer later that week. No phone call that one was even being extended to me! It was a day or two before I realized it was sitting in my inbox. I should note that email was our main way of communicating prior to this.

Is this the norm for companies these days — just email the job offer? I believe a verbal conversation or voice mail that one is coming is still a MUST. As a candidate, you want to hear the enthusiasm and sales pitch of a job offer.

What are your thoughts on my scenario? Should I hold this against the company?

An emailed job offer is a bad idea for a lot of reasons — you have no way of knowing the email was received, for one thing. And you want to hear the candidate’s reaction and get a sense of where they’re at with it. And you want to take that opportunity to express your enthusiasm for them. It’s an odd choice.

But is it a red flag? I’m not sure; it could just indicate an inexperienced or lazy HR rep, or an incredibly email-centric company. What do others think?

On the issue of there not being additional rounds of interviews and the decision being made just by one person: No, that’s not strange (assuming your one lone interview wasn’t just 15 minutes or something). Lots of employers do it that way. But if you feel you don’t have enough information to make a decision on the offer, now’s the time to ask your questions. Ask about the culture and anything else you’re wondering about. And if you really want to, you can certainly ask if you can meet or talk with some of the others you’d be working with. If the company balks at that, that’s the red flag.

Oh, and by the way — call the hiring manager to talk over the offer, not the HR rep. You’re clearly not getting a great feeling from the HR rep, and the hiring manager’s the one you’re going to be working with anyway. Good luck!

{ 15 comments… read them below }

  1. Kaye Monty*

    I agree. The initial offer should be extended over the phone (or in person if that is possible). The offer letter can follow via email, snail mail or in some cases in person. Receiving an offer via email without a prior conversation over the phone is definitely highly unusual.

  2. DrJohnDrozdal*

    Getting an email with a job offer is…well, odd for the reasons you've given. It may also be an indicator of the culture of the company. I worked with the management team of a small company where email was the cultural norm for almost all communications – even if you sat right next to the person you just emailed!

    What also contributes to the oddness of the email behavior is that the phone call to the successful candidate is the one that virtually every hiring manager loves to make because it is good news! The tough communication is to the finalists who did not get the job.

  3. The HR Store*

    It's not a good feeling to get a job offer by email, without prior communication. Being a recuiter among other things, I would feel real bad if I got one that way! The candidate definitely deserves to know about the offer either by phone or in person.

    But guess what, it happened to my wife when she was looking for a job change. The offer landed at her inbox from a HR rep she had never interacted with earlier! Strange. That was big company and the HR rep went on to defend her actions citing process! It's not so much a culture thing, but a HR rep who either didn't use her common sense or was to scared to question the process.

    Good luck with your offer!

  4. Deirdre HR Maven*

    I would recommend that the writer 1) acknowledge receipt of the email to the HR person and let him/her know that the offer was received and that the writer has additional questions for the hiring manager then 2) I would def follow up with the hiring manager.

    There may be issues with the team which is why they aren't involved in the hiring. But I would want to know that going in.

    Also, the hiring manager may not know how the HR person is handling things so I wouldn't let that reflect on the entire company.

  5. Anonymous*

    I think if most of the communication has been via e-mail, then getting an offer through e-mail is OK. For the candidate, it gives them time to craft a response.

    My first two post-college jobs were offered to me by phone. My most recent job was offered to me via e-mail. Since we had so much communication via e-mail, I didn't think twice about it (and did a little dance in my living room).

    We don't think it's strange to e-mail a resume or a "here's more information, just checking in" e-mail to a recruiter, so why is it strange that a job offer would come this way either?

  6. Dustin*


    It was a day or two before I realized it was sitting in my inbox. I should note that email was our main way of communicating prior to this.

    is a problem. Whatever form of communication you're using, you should be following up on. If this had been a phone call and been sitting in your voicemail for two days, this would be more obvious, but it counts for email, too. If your communication with this company was through email, you should be checking that at least daily, especially since you knew the hiring manager was in a hurry and that a response would be forthcoming. You talk about the need to judge the company's enthusiasm, where's your enthusiasm at?

  7. Charles*

    No, it is not strange that the writer received an email job offer. Perhaps not what most companies do; but not that odd to hold it against them.

    I agree with AAM, not interviewing with others is not unusual. I once worked at a company where my supervisor did not want potential candidates to meet anyone but her. She felt that it was her decision and her decision alone to make on hiring. It wasn't until after I pointed out to her that maybe the job candidates would want to meet future co-workers that she finally agreed to have others meet with them. So maybe this lone interview is a sign of an inexperienced manager and/or HR rep. That's something to think about – but not hold against them.

    If it is that important to the writer I would also follow AAM's advice to ask to meet some of the potential co-workers. Depending on the response the writer can move forward with an informed decision. And maybe by asking the writer will "teach" the manager and HR rep something about interiewing with more than just one person; just as my previous supervisor need to learn.

    Most importantly, I agree with Dustin – email sitting there for a day or two! That doesn't look good for the writer; especially knowing that they wanted to move on this and that much of their correspondence was via email.

    As a job seeker I check my email a couple of times each day. And given that so much correspondence with this company has been through email, why not check it everyday, at least once?

  8. KCQ*

    As an HR rep that frequently emails the offer I have to offer a different perspective.

    In our company, it is the hiring managers responsibility to make the verbal offer followed by the email from HR.

    I make it a practice to never send the email until I have confirmed the verbal offer has been made.

    Maybe both the manager and HR are inexperienced in hiring.

  9. LA*

    If the process seems strange � ask about it. I suspect, similar to KCQ's company, the hiring manager was responsible for making the verbal offer and you received the e-mail first due to simple miscommunication; the root of so many problems. Too many people fail to give others the benefit of doubt and do not take time to clarify an odd occurrence. Do your own research on the company and the team – if you think you will like the work and you like the hiring manager, take the job and feel good about doing so well in the interview they want to hire you immediately.

  10. Anonymous*

    The hiring process for my current job was really strange. I met an analyst at a conference, emailed my resume to her that night, heard from HR the next day, had a phone screen the day after, one week after the phone screen, had an invite to fly in for an interview the week after, and an emailed offer a month later with literally no communication in between (with the offer also sent via US Post.)

    But as strange as the hiring process was, I couldn't have found a better job and couldn't be happier.

  11. Anonymous*

    I had a similar experience with a previous company. The recruiter sent me the offer letter, which ended up being sent to the spam folder because of the Word attachment.

    A couple of days later, I get a phone call from him asking about the offer. Then I responded, "What offer?". Suddenly he went into panic mode.

    I have no problem using email to send an offer, but at least make a phone call first. Emails fail to arrive for many reasons, and frankly I would prefer getting an offer mailed to me on letterhead.

  12. Just Another HR Lady*

    We always e-mail the job offer, however ONLY after we call and speak to the person to let them know it's coming, or at the very least, leave a voicemail. If I leave a voicemail, I will typically call again at the end of the day "to make sure they received the offer". I can't imagine just sitting around "hoping" they received it.

    It would be strange to cite just e-mailing an offer with no other communication as process, since that could significantly slow your process. (i.e. the person didn't even know it was there)

  13. jaded hr rep*

    Sounds like either ultra-casual or very inexperienced (and yes, perhaps lazy too) HR and company. I'd be more worried about what this says about the company culture.

  14. krisandra*

    I was also emailed a job offer. I accepted it, although I had a funny feeling about it. The result was that I ended up working in a company that didn't know how to communicate. That became even more evident and intolerable later on – I resigned after about 5 weeks (that job is not going on my resume). Next time I will insist on a face-to-face meeting regarding a job offer, it's more professional.

  15. Mary*

    I think it’s very tricky. A company contacts you via e-mail without talking to you face-to-face? Sounds kid of a trap… I recently got an email with a job offer. I contacted them. Not for the purpose of getting the position, but because I was curious what it is offering. I called. It was some money games. I just hung up. You can really get into a trouble.

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