How does one ask for time to consider a job offer?
August 28, 2014 3:19 AM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend... If you receive a job offer over the phone and want some additional time to consider the offer, what do you say?

My friend (actually, I promise!) may receive a job offer over the phone. They interviewed for two positions and expect to hear from both potential employers within days of each other. How do you ask for time to consider an offer over the phone? This is in Australia.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace to Work & Money (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I've done this successfully in the past by (a) making it about time for consultation with someone else ("Wow, how exciting! If it's OK, I'd like to discuss all the logistics with my spouse. Would it be all right if I gave you a call back in X days?"); or (b) making it about waiting for more precise information ("Wow, how exciting! I did have some questions-- is there anyone in Human Resources I could talk to to learn more about the terms of the offer?"). Really, though, I think most places should expect that people will take a little time to think about a job offer, so I'd be surprised if any really heavy-duty excuses were necessary.
posted by Bardolph at 3:27 AM on August 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've used the "talk this over with my partner, will call you back in two days" thing successfully. I think it's typical, on the hiring end I've seen most people take a few days to respond. You do need to offer our agree to a timeline, most companies won't wait indefinitely.
posted by Stacey at 4:15 AM on August 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

Your friend shouldn't ask for time to decide. They should ask how much time they get to decide: "I'm going to think over your offer. How about if I get you my answer next Thursday?"

This assumes the premise of "they will let me take time to decide" and asks "how long will they let me take to decide." The offeror is much more likely to ask the question that was asked than to challenge that assumed premise entirely. But really, any employer that won't let someone think over an offer is being sketchy -- something about the offer sucks, and they don't want the person to take time to realize what sucks.
posted by Etrigan at 4:57 AM on August 28, 2014 [6 favorites]

Thank you! I'm receiving multiple offers and would like a day or two to decide which one will be the best fit for me. I'll have an answer for you by Wednesday (or whatever).

It makes them feel good because they are after someone that others want and can sometimes cause them to offer a better package. Don't ask if it's okay for you to think it over or if Wednesday works for them. Tell them what you want in a polite and strong manner.
posted by myselfasme at 5:08 AM on August 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

Any employer that rejects stating you (your friend) will respond within 2-3 days is not worth working for. Taking some time to consider an offer is so normal I don't even think you need to ask - you can simply state that you will take a couple days to get back. More than 2-3 days is in the "ask, but don't expect a yes" category, and more than a week is in the "that's probably too much" category.

To be honest, as an employer, I would be very surprised and a bit suspicious if someone immediately accepted a job offer on the phone. I would likely think that person is a bit fiscally incompetent (due to not negotiating) and also makes hasty decisions (due to accepting a job without any consideration). Neither of these are good qualities for an employee.
posted by saeculorum at 6:55 AM on August 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm in this boat so I asked a friend of mine who's a full time recruiter. He said 1 week is standard, no one gets upset if you ask for it, everyone understands that these are big decisions that need time to be made.

He had a few other pieces of advice:
1. if you're going to negotiate, wait first then counter, don't counter offer and then ask for time
2. if you counter, and they accept your counter, you are pretty much obliged to say yes
3. ask for more money
4. it's not their money - it's their companies.
5. the people hiring you are business people and negotiators. They will not be offended if you bargain
6. It can cost up to 2x your salary to employ you. So if you ask for 10% more, it does not cost them 10% more
and finally
Someone at your job has to be the highest paid person there, miht as well be you
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:02 AM on August 28, 2014 [11 favorites]

I would say "When do you need an answer?" That sidesteps any need to provide reasons (which an employers doesn't really need to know about, and also assumes the answer "yes, you can have some time to think about it" like Etrigan mentioned.

If the employer asks how much time your friend needs, a few days is certainly reasonable. (A week seems like too much time to me but this may be a regional or field-specific standard.)

Congratulations to your friend!
posted by Beti at 7:43 AM on August 28, 2014

Just be careful - as I've recounted here before, I once got a job offer on Friday, asked for the weekend to think it over and was told that was fine, and the job had been given to someone else by the time I called on Monday. True, it was a good sign I shouldn't work for those people. But be firm and make sure you've both agreed to the timeframe.
posted by ldthomps at 8:42 AM on August 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Great, please send over the offer and the paperwork so that I can review everything and I'll get back to you!" You should get an email with everything scanned into it.

Everything should be in writing and you should understand completely what the benefits package includes.

In the US we have to compare health insurance, retirement, and other cool benefits like commute assistance (mass transit) and other options. Also most of us have to be drug tested and background checked. But I'm sure some of this applies to Aussies too.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:01 AM on August 28, 2014

Telephone Script:

YOU: Thank you for the offer. I'm truly excited by the opportunity with $COMPANY. I really like X, Y and Z.

YOU: And I need a few days to sit down and consider your offer and put together a counteroffer. If you can get the written details to me quickly, I should be able to get that prepared by ($TODAY + 1 week).

THEM: 1 week is far too long to put off this hire. We need seats in chairs yesterday!

YOU: I understand, and changing employers is a huge decision. I definitely don't want to decide this hastily. How about I get back to you by ($TODAY + 3 business days)?

THEM: ...Fine.
posted by pwnguin at 9:04 AM on August 28, 2014

Other people have given you good answers about asking for more time. I would just point out (in case this isn't obvious) that if at all possible your friend needs to say yes to a job and have it locked in before declining any others, just in case you wind up in an ldthomps situation.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:15 AM on August 28, 2014

Does your friend have the company on hold right now while we answer the question? Seems like Friend has given an answer, yes?

As others have said, 3 days is a very comfortable horizon for this sort of thing, and a week wouldn't be unheard of.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:35 AM on August 28, 2014

I would simply say, "Thank you for the offer - may I get back with you after I speak with my spouse/significant other, etc".

As someone who has done a good amount of interviewing and job offering, It's a very respectable thing to do, certainly. I don't think your friend should recieve any grief with that answer.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 10:47 AM on August 28, 2014

Goodness I've never accepted on the spot. I just say something along the lines of, "thanks very much for the offer that is good news. I'll need a few days to think about this, how about I call you back on Monday?"

You don't need a reason to think over a job offer, and only bastards in bastard organisations would think otherwise.
posted by smoke at 2:44 PM on August 28, 2014

To be honest, as an employer, I would be very surprised and a bit suspicious if someone immediately accepted a job offer on the phone. I would likely think that person is a bit fiscally incompetent (due to not negotiating) and also makes hasty decisions (due to accepting a job without any consideration).

Really?? A person goes, in person, to an interview, maybe to several for that company, and then later gets called on the phone and told "We want to hire you for X amount of money" and person (who has probably been figuratively waiting by the phone) agrees, and this is not even common? Even in a bad economy? So you're supposed to be super enthusiastic during the interview but when you get an offer act the opposite?

And when listening to a firm voice telling you "This is what the job pays", you're not expected to infer "take it or leave it", despite the tone and content of what was just communicated?
posted by serena15221 at 9:46 PM on August 29, 2014

OK but they're not going to be able to keep someone who takes their first offer and later realizes how low it was. So why do they make it sound like it's "take it or leave it" by saying "We will hire you for x amount of money".
posted by serena15221 at 9:02 AM on August 30, 2014

« Older Help me find the song in "Oblivion Sky Tower...   |   What alternatives are there to the GORUCK GR1... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.