How long do you need to consider an employment offer (in the US)?
July 14, 2009 1:51 PM   Subscribe

What timeframe do you need to consider and respond to an employment offer (in the US)?

I just made a job offer to a chemical engineer in Chicagoland and gave what I thought was a reasonable amount of time to consider it – until the close of business Friday, or Monday morning at the latest. 3-5 days. He asked me to wait until a week from this Friday – 10 days.

I’m sure he is waiting to see what else pans out. He confirmed that our offer was in line with his previously stated expectations.

I told him I’d let him know shortly how long we are willing to wait for a response.

In your opinion, what is a reasonable amount of time to have in order to consider a job offer? Was I out of line?
posted by mockjovial to Work & Money (12 answers total)
Give him until Monday morning, absolute latest. That is a very generous amount of thinking time, especially in this job economy. 10 days is ridiculous.
posted by meerkatty at 1:54 PM on July 14, 2009

I think a week is fair - until next Monday.
posted by pravit at 2:05 PM on July 14, 2009

How bad do you want to hire him? Is there some reason you can't wait 10 days? Do you have a backup candidate who's exactly as good and will work for the same money?

If the answer to both is "no" there's no reason to issue ultimatums. Give him the time he needs.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:07 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

How good is your second-choice candidate? How long you're willing to wait depends on what sort of cards you're holding. If you have someone else is line who's nearly-as-good as this guy, he's not really in a position to negotiate while he waits for his first-choice place to come through.
posted by booknerd at 2:08 PM on July 14, 2009

At least a week. Ten days is not unreasonable.
posted by decathecting at 2:13 PM on July 14, 2009

A week is fair.
posted by ohyouknow at 2:23 PM on July 14, 2009

Best answer: I don't think there is one right answer to this question and we don't really have the information required to make a proper judgement call on this. we do not know how desirable you are as an employer both to this candidate and generally in your field or how good the offer is (is the salary outstanding or adequate, are chances for promotion, learning, growth, etc distinguishing, those sort of things) or what that particular area in chicagoland would be like to live. we do not know where this candidate hails from, whether he has to talk this other with a significant other or make a call on abandoning his twenty-year love affair with that local squaredance group that finally mastered this one, unique move together or if he is talking to other potential employers. we have no clue whether he should be lucky to have received your offer or is able to choose from twenty or so. we just don't know and you don't either. all you have to go by is your own gut.

if you can wait for him to make up his mind and are willing to do so, do it. if you find this offensive, tell him you changed your mind. if you need to make a decision by a certain date, give him a call and explain your situation. don't try to pressure him, be honest. that says a lot about you, too.
posted by krautland at 2:25 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Less than a week to consider an offer isn't usually the best form. Also, try not to feel upset or surprised about other potential offers he may be fielding right now. Who knows what may end up happening... it is a small world.

Have you interviewed other candidates for this position? Do you have other people in mind you might want to hire? You should certainly keep interviewing until he makes his decision.
posted by ohyouknow at 2:29 PM on July 14, 2009

Best answer: It sort of seems like the answer to this question depends on how you're viewing the situation. In particular, it seems like what matters is whether you're viewing yourself as the adversary of the person you're hiring, or whether you're viewing yourself as trying to find a good match between employer and employee.

If you're viewing it in the adversarial way, you're trying to get this person for the least cost. If you've read the situation correctly, and they're going to take the job if you threaten to take it away, then allowing for more time is only going to cost you more. Who knows if the candidate wants to see if they can get a better offer, or run the offer by a lawyer to get it modified, or whatever. More specifically, I suppose the candidate will probably weigh your offer against whatever their expected alternatives will be, though you may gain some advantage because your offer is concrete.

If you're viewing it as finding a good match, you're trying to get an employee who will be productive, like your work environment, and feel like you're treating them equitably and with respect. In that case, if the ten days isn't a problem, then why not give it to the candidate? If the candidate gets a better offer, then they might have been bitter anyway, or left in the middle of things. If they don't, then they'll probably be happier with the offer they have, and do a better job.

I'm not sure if it's better to view things as an adversarial process or a match making process, and it probably depends heavily on what industry you're in, what level of skills you're looking for, psychological factors, economic factors, and so on.

The answer to your narrow question about timing depends on which process you're assuming. If you're adversarial, who cares what is reasonable? If you're trying to find a good match, I think it depends on the length of time it takes companies to complete their hiring process in your industry. In mine, it can take on the order of months, which means that even if the candidate applies with a few companies in good faith at exactly the same time, the offers could eventually arrive a few weeks apart. I would be pretty unhappy if I didn't get to consider all of the offers for a group of companies I had applied to at the same time, though I suppose I would probably decide based on expectation.
posted by pbh at 2:32 PM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Its a process engineer position requiring a BS in Chem Engineering and ~3 years of experience.

I've interviewed 11 and have identified 2 others who can do the job.

I am under pressure to fill the position.

He lives in Chicago - no relocation needed.

I tend to view things in the 'matchmaking sense', not the 'adversarial way' as described by pbh.

Many good points were raised above. I may compromise and give him until next Wednesday if our hiring manager will allow it.

posted by mockjovial at 2:43 PM on July 14, 2009

I've been given a weekend to decide and it really turned what had been a pleasant interview experience into something quite adversarial. Of course the pleasant interviewing was with my potential coworkers, whereas the offer/negotiation was with HR. So it just left me disliking HR, but didn't change my view of the potential boss/job, which is why they are the ones to handle offers/negotiations..

I think had the offer actually come from my potential boss, it may have colored my view of him/the job more, right or wrong.
posted by gomess at 3:01 PM on July 14, 2009

Just to be a Devil's advocate - if he needs that long to "decide", then he may be waiting to see if another offer comes in. If you give him a definite final deadline, he'll probably accept the offer at the last minute, because he can't wait so long that his "bird in the hand" flies away. The more time you give him, the more likely he won't actually accept the offer.
posted by Citrus at 7:46 AM on July 15, 2009

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