how do I juggle different employers’ timelines when I’m interviewing?

A reader writes:

I am in the middle of job-searching and one of the most stressful parts is the different timelines that organizations are on. Some get back to you in 16 hours (as was the case with a first interview I had this week), some get back to you in a month (as is the case for a dream job I applied to). Some, like said dream job, are thoughtful enough to let you know their timeline for interviewing and hiring, which is helpful. But with others, you have no clue if they are looking to hire in a month or in three months. I’m nervous I’ll be waiting to hear back from more desirable roles while potentially getting job offers I am less excited about.

As an applicant, is there any way to navigate the differing timelines of multiple organizations? How do I balance taking jobs as they come, versus holding out for a different job? Obviously, I don’t want to say no to any offers, but I also don’t want to preemptively take an offer if I’m still waiting to hear back about a more ideal role. Can I ask for an employer’s hiring timeline? Is it risky to ask for an extra week or two to consider an offer? Is it okay to reach out to an organization where I interviewed to ask for an update on my status, if I am offered another role? And is there any world in which it’s okay to accept a job and then go back on that if I’m offered a different one?

Of course, these are all contingent upon me getting through many rounds of interviews and getting job offers! But this timing stress is almost as bad as the job search stress itself, so I’d love your thoughts.

Yep — it seems like a nice problem to have (job offers!), but it can be really stressful to figure out how to make different employers’ timelines line up so that you end up with the job you want most, not just the one that made you an offer first. And you can only put interviewers off for so long while you’re waiting to hear back from other companies.

There are some things you can do to make it easier to navigate, though. First and foremost, when you get a job offer, tell the company that you’re very interested and ask when they need an answer by. Ideally they’ll give you a week or two, but in some situations they might only give you a few days. (That might seem unreasonable, but there can be legitimate explanations for it, like if they need to get back to a second candidate who has a deadline of their own.) If they ask how long you’ll need, rather than offering a timeline of their own, it can be risky to say you’ll need more than a week … since that generally telegraphs that you’re hoping to use that time to get a better offer somewhere else. But one week is generally considered acceptable, and if you feel you need to offer an explanation, you can say you need to “talk it through with your partner” or “run the numbers.”

Next, immediately contact any other companies that you’ve interviewed with and whose offers you’d be tempted to accept over the one you already have. Explain that the job with them would be your first choice but that you have an offer from another company that you need to respond to within X days, and ask if there’s anything they can do to work within that timeline on their side.

Upon hearing that, a hiring manager who is very interested in you will try to expedite things if they can. They won’t always be able to; they might have scheduling conflicts, decision-makers who are unavailable, or other red tape keeping them from speeding their process up. If that happens, then you have to decide whether you’re willing to turn down a sure thing (the first offer) for the possibility of a second offer that might not ever materialize. But often, a company that considers you a strong candidate will move faster when they need to, and it’s fair to ask about.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “Hmmm, couldn’t I use that same strategy to get a faster answer even when I don’t really have another offer waiting?” … don’t do it! Bluffing about that can leave you with no offers at all, because there’s always a risk they’ll reply, “We can’t speed things up on our side, so go ahead and accept the other offer and we’ll take you out of consideration here.”

That said, there are some occasions when you can employ this strategy a bit earlier on in the hiring process, before you have a concrete offer. If an employer seems especially interested in you and you genuinely believe you’re going to get a different offer soon, you can say something like, “Do you have a sense of your timeline for making a hire? I’m in the finalist stage with another employer, but I’m more interested in the position with you.” However, don’t use this strategy at this earlier stage unless you’ve actually seen convincing signs that they think you’re a strong candidate (for example, being told you’re one of their top candidates or hearing an unusual amount of excitement about your experience). Otherwise it can become a reason for them to focus less on you rather than more. (For example, a hiring manager might think, “I’m not sure she’s quite what we’re looking for and it sounds like she’s about to accept another job anyway, so I might as well concentrate on other candidates instead.” You don’t want that!)

Now, what if you can’t make the timelines line up and so you accept the first offer … and then later you get a more appealing offer from a different employer? You can back out of the first offer to accept the second one, but be aware that there can be a cost to doing that. There’s a good chance you won’t be considered for any future job with the first employer, even if you end up wanting to work with them down the road. And particularly if you’re in a small industry, people talk, and “she backed out of an offer two days before she was supposed to start and after all the other candidates had been cut loose” can harm your reputation. That said, if the second offer is clearly better for you, you need to act in your own interests. As long as you’re clear-eyed about the potential repercussions, sometimes backing out of the first offer to accept the superior one’s the decision that makes sense. (And companies act in their own interests all the time. You get to do that, too.)

Originally published at New York Magazine.

{ 63 comments… read them below }

  1. kiki*

    I really appreciated that Alison called out that companies will always act in their best interests, so it’s okay for candidates to as well (re: backing out of an offer for your dream job). Especially recently, we’ve seen more employees rescinding offers to candidates due to the company’s own financial considerations. When backing out of an offer, it’s important to keep potential repercussions in mind, but I think a lot of advice out there treated it as an unconscionable betrayal to the company to do so. I don’t think candidates should accept offers as leverage or knowing in advance they will back out, but if a better offer comes along, a better offer comes along. And truthfully, most people understand that a candidate’s going to do what’s best for them, especially if their dream job comes along. It may be frustrating and they’ll probably be reluctant to hire you in the future, but most people won’t actively hold it against someone.

    1. irene adler*

      I agree! Only you have your best interests at heart and only you can act to serve your best interests. Life is too short not to.

  2. PP Halpert*

    This happened to me nearly 15 years ago and it was so scary! My job had been eliminated and I interviewed with 2 places at the same time. The first made me an offer and I let them know I was in the final stage with another company as well and asked if I could have some time to consider it (something to that effect, and I believe this was on a Wednesday and the other company planned to make a decision on Friday of the same week).
    The first company told me no, they need an answer the next day. I declined it in anticipation of getting an offer with the second company, who I was more interested in anyway. The first company was flabbergasted when I declined and actually came back to me a few weeks later to offer it to me again. I had, by that time, accepted an offer from the second company and was working there. They didn’t change the offer at all, just thought maybe it didn’t work out and I’d reconsider. Guess their timeline wasn’t quite that tight, or none of the other candidates worked out either.

    1. Wisteria*

      “or none of the other candidates worked out either.”

      Entirely possible! And possibly the reason their timeline was so tight was so that they could make offers to back up candidates quickly.

    2. SpaceySteph*

      I know Allison says employers can have reasons for a tight timeline but next day seems absurd even by that standard. Unless its a dream job or a truly desperate situation where you already know you’ll say yes and the details don’t matter, that’s really short turnaround to assess. As someone with 3 kids and a full-time job, I probably don’t have time to sit and pour over a benefits package and compensation THAT NIGHT.

      They probably were counting on people to be desperate but clearly they bet wrong.

    3. Powercycle*

      Being rushed to make a decision is a bit of a red flag for me. Most job offers I’ve gotten would give me the weekend to look it over and think about it.

  3. irene adler*

    If one asks for time to think the offer over, say 5 days, is it normal for the employer to start sending paperwork to the candidate PRIOR to accepting the offer (like during that 5 days you are thinking the offer over)? Or is that being pushy?

    By paperwork, I mean documents regarding orientation information, acknowledgement that employee manual has been received, info on pre-employment physical exam, background check form, etc. I’m not talking about the offer letter itself.

    1. kiki*

      I’d think it’s odd. I’d appreciate more details about benefits and some notes about what the next steps will be if I move forward, but basically starting in on the onboarding process seems pushy to me. Especially because if I’m really not sure if I’m taking this job, who does it benefit for me to have received a background check form early?

      1. irene adler*

        Thank you! Seemed that way to me too. I rationalized it as their wanting to get things to me ahead of time. I ended up not taking the job (other red flags popped up).

    2. ferrina*

      At a mid-sized or small firm, yes, that would be very odd. For a large firm where they might do bulk trainings it might make more sense (like they want you in the training in 2 weeks, and if you miss that the next one is in 8 weeks) but if that’s the case they should be talking to you about why they are sending it.

      Otherwise, yeah, that feels pushy but maybe not a red flag by itself (someone that does HR on top of a lot of other jobs may just send all the stuff in bulk so they can get back to the other jobs they need to do- I’ve worked with a supervisor who was supposed to do a lot of the HR stuff on top of her full time job, plus she was on-call if one of the staff missed a shift and we needed her on the floor). If they’ve been pushy in other ways, yep, that’s not a good combo.

      1. irene adler*

        Thank you, too! You and kiki confirm my feeling on this. Thought maybe this was efficiency on their part. I turned them down as there were other red flags. They continued to bug me about the job (sent me the next steps in the on-boarding process).

    3. Zee*

      I’d want info about that physical exam since it would affect whether or not I’m accepting the job… and usually background checks are part of the application process, so I’d also be cool filling that out ahead of time (I’d want that before accepting the offer anyway, just in case something shows up that has to be straightened out). And I guess parts of the employee manual like about PTO would be useful for making the decision too. But I agree, it is a little odd when taken as a whole.

  4. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    I remember I got an job offer and knowing that I was one of four candidates for a different job where I interviews around the same time, I did reach out to the 2nd place per Alison’s suggestion.

    They never returned my call. Ah, well. I took the first job offer (turned out good for me, in the long run).

    1. Snow Globe*

      I think that if you contact the second company to ask about moving up their timeline and they say no (without expressing strong regret) or don’t respond, that’s a sign that you probably weren’t their top candidate anyway. So if you try this and it doesn’t work, that’s not a sign that you shouldn’t have asked.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        Agree with this. If they don’t try to work with you, they likely were only so keen on you to begin with, and turning down other offers to wait for them could land you with nothing. This isn’t a reason to start bluffing or playing games, but you don’t want to risk everything for a job you were never going to get.


        “Obviously, I don’t want to say no to any offers…”

        Frankly, you should have a very good idea by the time you get to the offer stage whether you would accept the job on its merits, and that should be part of your calculus. It’s a luxury to be able to turn down a job offer, but it should be on the table. If you didn’t really want the job and you feel good about your chances elsewhere, then yes, you ideally should turn down the job. If you really like this job, but are in the running for one you would love, then you can start trying to maneuver. But if you just think it’s wrong to turn down a job offer? Nuh-uh. Sometimes you can turn down an offer and keep looking, if the offer wasn’t right.

  5. cbdnyc*

    I received a job offer from company 1, but preferred company 2. I reached out to company 2 and told them they were my first choice and they sped up the application process. I was hired — still working here 22 years later! So can work out well!

    1. ThatGirl*

      A similar thing happened to me in 2017; after a lackluster offer from company A, I got a sped-up offer from company B that included a sign-on bonus! unfortunately I only worked there 3 1/2 years (layoff) but that had nothing to do with my performance :P

    2. Dr. Clara Mandrake*

      That is what happened when I got my current job. I was tentative to even reach out to the company I preferred because I thought it was presumptuous at the time, but I really wanted the job. I had an email back within hours saying that if I could wait before accepting they would have information for me, and I had an offer within a day or two. Lesson learned, it never hurts to ask!

  6. InsperitySucks*

    Thank you for posting this – I’m in this exact situation now and it’s so stressful!

  7. HelloFromNY*

    You have to be careful and “read the room” because if you try to delay or push for an answer (or even a timeline) this could backfire. I once interviewed with company A and company B. For various reasons Company A was my first choice. But their hiring process was longer. Company B gave me an offer. I went back to Company A and let them know I had another offer, but I was much more excited about their organization and felt it was the better fit. I asked did they have a timeline and I was simultaneously was trying to get a feel if I was among the top contenders Company A was very offended and said “Well you have another offer, so I guess you don’t need us.” And they hung up on me. In retrospect I probably wasn’t among the top contenders. But I learned everything I needed to know about that place.

    1. Snow Globe*

      That’s not actually a bad outcome; you learned that your “first choice” probably would have been a terrible place to work

    2. Kevin Sours*

      To be honest, that doesn’t sound like it backfired.
      But yes, you should assume that if you push a company for an expedited timeline that the answer is going to be “good luck on the offer you have”. But if you need to an expedited response or you are going to take that offer anyway then you haven’t really lost anything. And no decent company is going to hold it against you for asking.

    3. ferrina*

      Whoa, that Company A had a massive overreaction!
      I had a candidate do the same thing, and I was grateful. We were pretty sure we wanted him but were moving a little slower on the timeline due to other priorities. When he reached out, the internal team made the decision immediately, and a couple days later HR got him the offer letter. We were so happy to be able to get him.

  8. Seriously?*

    I might be facing that now. Add in that I am over 50 and changing careers from education and yikes! I finished a new degree and I’ve been job searching for about 3 months, not that long. I’ve had a bunch of screeners and several real interviews. One large local org would be good to work for, and I’ve applied to several jobs in my new field. Finally had an initial interview last week, it went well, they have 3 open positions, they said recruiter will set up next interview. But everything with them takes a week or two between steps, and I’m waiting for this interview. Meanwhile I had applied for a different job, they called and asked if I was interested in a position other than the one I applied for, and I interviewed Friday. It went very well, and they are making a decision this week. There are pros and cons to both. Assuming they are both actually interested in me, I may be juggling timelines. I’m lucky in that I don’t have to rush into a job, but I’d also like to start working again! This is hard!

  9. Anonforthis*

    As an employer, in a small business, I’ve experienced this recently. Candidate A accepted the job when it was offered, but phoned back the following morning to say they’d changed their mind for various (sensible) reasons. They were apologetic, acknowledged they should have asked for time to think about it and behaved graciously and professionally. I would interview them again. Candidate B accepted, signed a contract (I’m not in the US, contracts are a legal requirement here), gave me all the paperwork to get them set up etc. I rejected all the other candidates. Over a week later, they sent an email saying personal circumstances had changed and they were pulling out of the job. I work in a small, tight knit industry, and it took a very short amount of time to hear they’d accepted a job with a competitor. Now I’m certain they had their reasons, but they did not handle it nearly as well as Candidate A and I would be reluctant to interview them again in the future as a result. So the way you deal with this is as important as whether or not to do it in the first place!

      1. Anonforthis*

        No, but they’d accepted and done all the onboarding paperwork, and given us no cause to think there was anything amiss. So a phone call to tell us they were withdrawing and why would have been far more professional from my point of view – but in reality they’d interviewed at the other firm already – they should have asked us for time to think about it, not accepted and then pulled out when the other offer came in. They were due to start relatively soon with us, they put our whole process into disarray, and it made me question how they’d deal with awkward or difficult situations in the workplace in general. But that’s Alison’s point, isn’t it? You can do it, but you have to be aware of the possible consequences, which include that the first company might not consider you in future! It’s entirely possible that Candidate B sees that as a feature not a bug – perhaps they wouldn’t dream of working for us in the future anyway.

        1. Re*

          That’s precisely opposite everything I’ve read from Alison on this subject.

          Perhaps a phone call would have been better than an email, but do you call all your rejected applicants?

          You have no idea what the person’s timeline was for the other job, what they offered, etc.

          Employers use job applicants like interchangeable parts all the time. Candidates can do the same.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            Perhaps a phone call would have been better than an email, but do you call all your rejected applicants?

            This situation isn’t analogous to an applicant rejected during the interview process. It’s more similar to a hiring manager extending an offer, then learning their budget is getting slashed and they can’t hire that candidate any more. In that situation, I would expect the hiring manger to call the candidate and explain that the company is rescinding the offer, regrettably, because of forces outside the hiring manger’s control.

            1. Anonforthis*

              And no, I don’t call rejected applicants because that’s a horrible thing to do! No-one wants a phone call for that! They want an email with time to digest it. I sent feedback to all rejected applicants as well, via email. I had some really nice replies from them.

              And I don’t think it’s the opposite of what Alison has said – she literally says in that post that you can do it but it will potentially have negative consequences for you.

              Listen, I have zero issue with someone turning down a job. I was super impressed with Candidate A who rang me, to the point that I offered them freelance work at a decent rate until they had secured a permanent position (if they wanted it).

              But by a) sending an email to me with no explanation and b) doing it a significant amount of time after they’d both accepted and done all the paperwork, I now won’t look favourably on B in the future. That’s just the way it is. If B had (ideally) phoned and said they were really sorry but they’d been offered this other thing they thought was a better fit, they understood the optics were bad and they were sorry for inconveniencing me, then you know, I’d have been mildly irritated but no harm no foul – you have to do what’s right for you.

              But to accept a job offer, given in good faith, do all the paperwork and be starting fairly soon and then pull out with no explanation – well, I can only imagine what the commentariat would say about an employer who did that to a new hire after they’d quit their previous job!

              Our industry is full of awkward and tough conversations. This for me was a bit of a litmus test and Candidate A redeemed themselves fully, whilst Candidate B gave me enough cause for concern it would mean I’d be reluctant to spend time on an application of theirs again. That’s all. I don’t think they’re a terrible person, I don’t think I’m a terrible employer, and it’s weird you seem to think this isn’t an indicator of Bs general approach to tricky situations.

      2. Coconutty*

        That’s a pretty strong reaction to a very practical comment simply giving us another perspective

        1. Anonforthis*

          I really hope I didn’t give the impression that I expected B to stick with the job! I just felt that like A, it was a phone call and not an email situation, and that if they really felt unable to do that, an actual explanation and apology for the inconvenience would have gone a long way. That’s all.

          1. Coconutty*

            I didn’t get that impression at all! Your comment seemed perfectly reasonable to me.

      3. Person from the Resume*

        No. B should have followed Alison’s advice. Ask for a week to think it over and then declined once they got their preferred job offer. Then AnonforThis would not have rejected all the other candidates.

        1. Anonforthis*

          Yep, and we would have gladly given them that time. We expected it! If they’d said ‘can I have a few days to think it over’, I’d have given them a timescale and asked them to get back to me by that date. It would have been totally fine! They’re allowed to interview elsewhere and choose the best position for them. That’s just how hiring works.

      4. Ben Marcus Consulting*

        At the very least, B should not have signed a contract they weren’t committed to executing.

  10. Karath*

    I know it’s stressful, I’ve got a friend in this exact position (she’s in a high-demand field). But I have never been in the position of having to balance multiple job offers – it’s always been one offer in while the other companies haven’t responded at all. Which puts me in the position of needing to take that one sure thing offer so I can pay bills, and hope that it was the best I could have gotten. I think I am very bad at job hunting in the sense of FINDING the jobs!

    Definitely this is one of those situations where it looks great from the outside (me) and is very stressful for the inside (bff).

  11. ThatGirl*

    My husband had a mostly good but slightly odd-to-me experience getting his latest job — he was interviewing at two places and felt good about his chances at both, but slightly favored A. He thought he might get an offer from B first, but A actually came through first — at which point he asked for a few days (as I’d encouraged him to do) and they basically said “we’d really like to know within 24 hours”. That seemed a little odd to me; I know they are juggling their own timeline but a couple days seems reasonable? In any case, he did immediately reach out to B, and they were just like “thanks, we’ll be in touch” and then he never heard back — well, until a week or so later, when they formally said “thanks but we’re going with another candidate.”

    To me, B’s response was also a little odd, in that nobody ever called him; I know he was a very strong candidate there but maybe they thought since he had another offer, he was going to take it so might as well reject him??

    1. Wisteria*

      “ they were just like “thanks, we’ll be in touch” and then he never heard back — well, until a week or so later, when they formally said “thanks but we’re going with another candidate.”

      B’s response was also a little odd, in that nobody ever called him;”

      I’m not sure I follow. They said they would be in touch, and they did get in touch. Are you saying it was odd that there was no telephone call, just email? That’s common for rejection, and a lot of people prefer it.

    2. Snow Globe*

      He may have been a strong candidate but they may have had another that was stronger. They wanted to wait until their first choice accepted before cutting him loose.

      1. ThatGirl*

        They were actually hiring two people, but yes, this is certainly possible. It worked out, in any case.

  12. Spearmint*

    Alison, it seems like you’ve warmed up to the idea of candidates accepting an offer but backing out for a better one, is that right? I recall older posts where you said candidates should never do so unless it was a extreme scenario, like the first job wasn’t in their field but the second job was.

    1. ferrina*

      I think it’s more that a candidate needs to look out for their own self-interests and to weigh their options. This may lead to burning a bridge (or at least a singe), but that’s sometimes worth it.

      See Anonforthis’s comment above on the kind of repercussions of backing out once you accept a job.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      I don’t think it’s a change in stance at all. You shouldn’t accept an offer somewhere already planning on backing out and taking a different offer, that would be in bad faith. But sometimes you end up with a better offer you didn’t think was coming and I think the advice has always been: if taking the new offer is what’s best for you in the long-term then you should probably take it, but know that doing so will likely be burning some bridges. It’s a risk assessment.

  13. kiki*

    It may have been that B had pretty much settled on a top choice, but were waiting on their response. So they couldn’t really speed along your husband’s timeline or make an offer until they heard back from top choice, but they also didn’t want to pass on him completely in case top choice rejected their offer

  14. DivineMissL*

    I just went through this too. Juggling Company A (gut feeling this was the right move for long-term advancement) and Company B (would still be a great job, albeit more limiting, if A didn’t work out). B made a lowball offer that I asked to think about. I went to A and asked them about their timeline; they agreed to try to speed it up but it would still take about 2 weeks more to finalize. Meanwhile, I negotiated back and forth with B, partially to buy time but they had legitimately lowballed me.

    Eventually, I ran out of time; I had to turn down B’s (by this point very reasonable) offer and sweat out one more week of waiting to hear from A. The happy ending is, I start working at A in two weeks! But if that had fallen through, I would have lost the opportunity at B. I trusted my instincts, and it worked out in this case; but I was also prepared if it didn’t.

  15. just another queer reader*

    There was a new hire in my department who left about a month after they started. We figured they’d gotten a better offer elsewhere. It was a bummer for my team, but the company adapted.

  16. WockaWocka*

    I am currently applying for two different jobs, but both are internal (local municipality, but entirely different departments). Their timelines are a couple weeks apart, I would prefer the one with a closing date two weeks after the first job I’ve applied for, do you think Alison’s same advice would apply?

    1. SpaceySteph*

      I would think if they’re both internal you should level with them. The departments should want what’s best for the organization overall which is retaining high performers in the best job for them. Very different than 2 competing organizations where one loses out to the other. I was in the running for a internal promotion and also an internal lateral transfer. When the transfer offered me the job I flat out told them I was waiting to hear back on the promotion and if I got it I’d be taking it. They waited and also worked with the other department to get me an answer ASAP. The promotion passed, so I took the lateral and there were no hard feelings.

      That said you know your organization best, are these managers the type to be petty? Gotta keep that in mind.

    2. Powercycle*

      I had something similar happen to me years ago. I had applied to two very different I.T. jobs weeks apart within our large department. The CIO got in touch with me and basically offered me both positions, and left the decision up to me. Job A (less hands on technical but CIO’s preference) or Job B (more hands on technical, my preference.) I took Job B. The CIO did not hold it against me, they were happy to have me working there.

  17. Zee*

    Oh man, my last several employers have all wanted a response right away. They begrudgingly would give me 1-2 days… except one that said I had to call back within the next few hours, or they’d go to their next candidate.

  18. Blueberry Grumpmuffin*

    I recently went through this too! Company A gave me an offer while I was still interviewing at 5 different companies, and I quickly notified those other companies about the pending offer. I was still interested in those other companies, but Company A seemed a bit antsy about getting a decision, although they never gave me a hard due date, just “soon”.

    I managed to delay my decision by 2 weeks, during which 3 of the other companies rejected me, and the other 2 couldn’t speed up their process fast enough, probably due to summer vacations and holidays. It was nerve-wracking telling them I had to “weigh my options”, “see if it’s the right fit”, yada yada, while stressing through interview gauntlets (looking at 6+ total hours spent interviewing PER COMPANY, whew!), and praying like crazy that Company A doesn’t give up and rescind.

    But the good news is, I’ll be starting at Company A on Monday!

    1. Blueberry Grumpmuffin*

      I meant “telling *Company A* I had to weigh my options…” in case that wasn’t clear.

  19. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

    About 15 years ago I was in a similar situation…. I’d been going through the interview process with Big Famous Teapot Corporation, when Small Indy Teapots recruited me. Looking back, it may not have been the wisest choice, but I was was up front with Small Indy and told them I was in the process with BFTC, and asked them for a couple of weeks to make the decision.

    Two weeks pass, and I still haven’t heard from BFTC, so I accepted with Small Indy. Fifteen years later, I’m still quite happy in my position with Small Indy Teapots.

  20. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

    Sorry about the duplicate post ( I had originally posted this comment on the wrong story.

    About 15 years ago I was in a similar situation…. I’d been going through the interview process with Big Famous Teapot Corporation, when Small Indy Teapots recruited me. Looking back, it may not have been the wisest choice, but I was was up front with Small Indy and told them I was in the process with BFTC, and asked them for a couple of weeks to make the decision.

    Two weeks pass, and I still haven’t heard from BFTC, so I accepted with Small Indy. Fifteen years later, I’m still quite happy in my position with Small Indy Teapots.

  21. Jean*

    So grateful to this question today, I’m in this situation currently. I’ve accepted an offer that would be really good for me, and set my last day at my current job. The day I received that offer, I received an invitation to interview at a dream job that I had applied to a month earlier!!!! I let them know that I had a verbal offer but they were my first choice, and asked about the timeline. They’re trying to move pretty fast now, and my start date with the other job is 5 weeks out, just because of how things happened to work out. I feel incredibly anxious about it, but I know that if the dream job gives me an offer, I will absolutely take it. I have to do what’s best for me, and incredible benefits, $11/hr more, and more exciting work is absolutely worth the anxiety of having to back out of a job I already accepted a couple of weeks before starting.

  22. Ayla K*

    My department once had a candidate accept an offer, then go back on it when he got a better one (I couldn’t blame him at the time, it was a REALLY great offer from a major company)…and then he came back to us when the second company pulled that new offer! Luckily for him, we hadn’t made any other offers yet, so we were able to bring him on after all, but I did tell the hiring manager to be aware of what caused him to back out in the first place. Sure enough, he left in less than a year because he didn’t like the company culture.

    All that is to say, everyone is always going to act in their own best interests, so big yes to candidates making those choices too. And it won’t ALWAYS burn a bridge, if you’re gracious about it!

  23. zlionsfan*

    I had this happen the last time I was job-searching: I was doing contract work at one place and that led to the offer of another contract position that would have me placed somewhere else … but in the meantime, I found out about a permanent position that seemed like a really good fit, and the timelines ended up being a bit too close. The contract position needed an answer before I knew if I got an offer from the permanent position (I had already made the last round of interviews), so I turned them down and explained why … and I didn’t get the permanent position.

    But! They didn’t end up filling that contract position, they reached out the next month and offered it again, I took it, and it eventually led to a permanent position doing the same work. In the meantime, I found out that the other position would not have been as great as it seemed, so it worked out for me … but it doesn’t always work that way. If you can afford to wait for the better/best offer (and not everyone can), sometimes it does work out in your favor.

  24. Caitlin*

    I had this happen recently, where I’d interviewed at two companies within a week or so of each other, both same pay and 2 yr contract (typical in the industry), and slightly preferred company A over company B, but I would’ve been happy to accept a job at B if that was all I got.

    I got an offer from company B first for a 3 month contract, which I declined, and then they followed up a week later with an offer for a 2 year contract, having obviously had behind the scenes conversations. At that point, I knew I was a strong contender at company A – I’d received extremely positive feedback, done second round assessment tasks, and they’d asked about reference checking.

    I asked B for a few days until the end of the week to think it over, and immediately contacted A with a very similar message to what Alison suggested. They moved up their reference checking, made me an offer, and I’ve been there two months now!

    I’m very glad I was going to handle it amicably and professionally though, as the two companies work quite closely together, and I’ve already met one of my interviewers from company B while at my new job!

Comments are closed.