should I tell my recruiter and a potential employer that I’m still interviewing?

Here’s a different spin on yesterday’s debate in the comments section about whether a company had led a job candidate on. (My answer then: No. While an interview process is ongoing, interest on either side is far from a commitment.) Here’s today’s question:

I have been aggressively pursuing jobs, all of which include relocation. Additionally, I recently started with an industry-specific recruiter under the terms that I am completely open and looking to relocate.

Well, last week a perfect job opportunity came up in my local area and I applied. Within a week, I had an interview completed with this local company, which went extremely well, including an upper level executive being pulled in at the last minute (meeting with him had previously been described to me as a second interview step). I was given strong feedback, including that they had been looking for a while without luck and were very excited about my qualifications compared to what they had received from other applicants. If offered the job, I will accept. It had made me completely rethink relocating.

In the meantime, 3 phone interviews have been scheduled for next week — all with out-of-town companies. One includes a big opportunity being scheduled through the recruiter.

1. Should I tell the recruiter about the unexpected local opportunity? I don’t want him to stop working with me because I might be a waste of time, since the local position may fall through.

2. Should I email the HR coordinator and “leverage” (really just make aware that I have other opportunities arising) the other interviews and let them know I don’t want to lead other employers on if I am a top runner for their position?

No and no.

There’s no need to tell the recruiter about the local opportunity because it might not be offered to you, regardless of how enthusiastic they seem (again, see yesterday’s post). And even if they do offer it to you, you might not be able to come to terms on salary or some other factor.

If you’re offered and accept this job, then you’ll inform the recruiter — but meanwhile, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by potentially slowing his efforts for you. If you don’t get this job, you’d end up really regretting that.

(By the way, this is exactly why it’s bad for job seekers to interpret enthusiasm from an employer as a sign they’re about to get an offer:  It will often cause them to make decisions that can hurt them, such as slowing down their efforts with other companies. I’m not saying that you’re doing this, by the way — just making a general point about why it’s so important not to, since so many commenters yesterday were insistent that it’s reasonable to interpret signs of interest as a promise that an offer is forthcoming.)

And no, you should not contact the local company to let them know that you have other interviews and that you don’t want to “lead on” those companies if you’re a finalist for the local job. All of the employers you’re talking to — local and out-of-town — assume that you might have other interviews and that you’re talking to other companies. This is normal, and you’re not leading anyone on. Your job search continues until you accept a job, after all — just as their search for the right candidate continues until a hire is made.

You would, however, want to contact this local company if you had an offer or seemed to be about to get an offer from another company. At that point, they have a window of time that they’d need to act within, and it’s to your advantage (and theirs, if they want to hire you) to let them know that. (See here for how to do this.)  But contacting them just to let them know you have interviews set up would look naive and presumptuous.

You’re not leading anyone on by continuing to interview until you’ve accepted a job offer.

{ 12 comments… read them below }

  1. Jamie*

    The whole time I was reading the OP portion I kept thinking no, no say nothing…of course they know you’re looking.

    Very few people are in the position to want to work for one company only…and if not, a viable option is not working.

    That said there is certainly no reason to tip your hand and give anyone specifics. This kind of info should be given on a need to know basis – and once you officially accept a position and take yourself off the market is when they need to know (or, as Alison stated, when you have a window of consideration which would then be a factor.)

  2. Josh S*

    Better title: “Should I hamstring my employment search on the misguided hope that this one job pans out?”

    It’s a bad move to take yourself out of the running of jobs, or even to disadvantage yourself a little bit. ‘Nuff said.

  3. Rob*

    Much like yesterday’s discussion, the OP should not presume to be getting an offer from the local company and just drop everything with everyone else.

    Until that offer is in hand (either from the local company or someone out of town), keep the pedal to the metal with not only all of these other efforts, but any others that come along.

  4. Kimberley*

    As the resident staffing company representative I do agree with Alison. I have seen many times over what happens to candidates when they tell their recruiter that they are in the middle of the interview/offer process – the recruiter stops presenting them for other opportunities. Remember, recruiters work on commission. If they get the feeling that you are not going to be 100% committed to their opportunity, they will pass you over for another candidate. Good luck!

      1. Josh S*

        There *could* be, if you’d switch to another commenting system… (Yeah, I know I said I’d leave you alone. But the threading/nesting broke on the other post and you have another person asking for features here. I gotta comment. Squeaky wheel and all…. )

  5. Elizabeth West*

    I would add, don’t slow down your job search even if you haven’t interviewed yet.

    Monday, I discovered the listing for my dream job. It’s with the police department, it fits all my skills and even my DEGREE, and it was only just posted with an end date of 8/10, so I’m kinda thinking they are in a hurry to find someone (also background checks for the PD are intense. I did one at the start of college for an internship there that I ALMOST got.).

    I have to continue to plan as though I will not even be called. Friday I have an interview with a local company. I would dearly love to say “No thanks, I got this city job instead! Woo hoo!” But I still have to go and see what the deal is, because I need something soon or I am going to lose everything. As much as I would like to say “Stop the presses! This is the only job I will accept!” I can’t do that.

  6. anon-2*

    People know you’re looking — otherwise you wouldn’t be in their office interviewing.

    The only time I’d “tip my hand” — seriously — is if you have a solid job offer from “Company A” — but are still a candidate at “Company B” and you really wanted to go to “Company B”.

    In such an instance — it is not improper to call Company B and inquire about your status, indicate that you have an offer from another company — but you’d rather be at Company B. And if your candidacy is still alive there, it might cause good things to happen.

    If you were under serious consideration at Company B, it could expedite the process there. If they were going in a different direction, they may tell you, and you wind up at Company A anyway.

    Just as long as it’s not presented as a bluff.

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