[JobOfferFilter] Bird in one hand, prettier ones in the bush?
February 25, 2015 9:52 PM   Subscribe

I got a job offer from a company that made me a bit uneasy. I'm supposed to make a decision by Friday. Meanwhile, another company wants to move forward... Help me figure out my next move, given the fun snowflakes inside!

Apologies in advance for the length, but here goes...

I was pretty interested in Company A, and after the whole interview process, I got an offer on Thursday. Whoa, right? But something about that company is making me hesitate. Because:
- I was told by the recruiter that the phone interview would consist of general questions and a collaborative coding question. That last question never occurred, and I'm pretty sure I super-messed-up the general questions. Yet they still wanted to move forward to an onsite.
- I was also told the onsite would be about five hours. Instead, it was just two. Two interviews happened then, each of which had two engineers grilling me with questions.
- The folks, while seemingly nice, were a bit...reserved. Like, they were quite quiet and maybe awkward in conversation.
- They gave me an offer the day after the onsite. Like, pop!
- ...which led me to think they were cutting corners on the interview process because I'm female. Or maybe they weren't getting a lot of candidates.
- The salary is lower than average for the area (but I think that's my fault. Long story)
- And the benefits were pretty mediocre for a tech startup in San Francisco.

Well, I told them that I'll make a decision on Wednesday (today). But other companies popped up on my radar, so I pushed for Friday. Those other companies eventually went nowhere.

Meanwhile, I had my phone interview with Company B last week, and they were busy fixing up their recruiting team all the while. I had to poke them today, and they say "yes, would you like to come onsite? Earliest we can do is Friday, ideally Monday".

To be fair, I hadn't thought much about Company B during the past week when I was courting other companies. But I was referred there by a friend, the technical challenges seem interesting, the folks seem friendly and open, and I'm starting to care more about their product than Company A's. And from what I could gleam about their benefits, they're WAY better than Company A's.


Should I:
1) Ask Company A for another extension? Friday would be a week and a day from when the offer letter appeared.
2) Go "fuck it" and take Company A's offer come Friday despite my uneasy feeling, and say sorry to Company B? Or...
3) Accept Company A's offer, continue with Company B, and if magic happens there, tell Company A I changed my mind?

Both positions are web development. Yes, I should have poked Company B earlier, but like I said, I was courting other companies this past week. And I know (3) is borderline unprofessional, but if it's the right choice to make, then so be it.

Happy to provide more details if needed.
posted by curagea to Work & Money (8 answers total)
- They gave me an offer the day after the onsite. Like, pop!

For what it's worth, I've given and received multiple offers the day of the interview, so the day after is hardly exceptional.

I had to poke them today, and they say "yes, would you like to come onsite? Earliest we can do is Friday, ideally Monday".

Did you tell them you have an offer in hand? If not, do so immediately. That should accelerate the process and make them aware that you expect a rapid response once the interview occurs.

Should I:
1) Ask Company A for another extension? Friday would be a week and a day from when the offer letter appeared.

Yes. Option 2 is bad for your career and option 3 is unprofessional. When you accept a job offer, the hiring company (should) immediately stop recruiting other candidates, which means that they will lose significant schedule time if you then decline their offer. This is not to say you are obligated to follow through with your offer or that every company acts appropriately. It is to say that I've been on the side of the company trying to hire an individual and that an individual who requested more time would be considered appropriately professional (albeit inconvenient) and that I'd make every effort to give them more time if it was at all possible, whereas an individual that declined a job offer immediately after accepting it would never be considered for a job again.

You should then consider what you'll say if Company A says the job offer will expire on Friday. If that doesn't scare you, then perhaps you shouldn't be accepting Company A's offer in the first place because you aren't very excited about Company A (regardless of any other offers). If that does scare you, you should be less concerned about ultimately working for Company A.
posted by saeculorum at 10:17 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

This might be a bit long..

1. Why are you uneasy? All the things you mentioned are not out of the ordinary. I just started a new job three months ago so I just went through this process as well.

(a) I can tell you that interviews don't always go as structured. Interviewers can get a feel for you and decide they don't need or want to ask the rest of the questions or they may ask more.

(b) Again, they might've expected you to interview with three people but one was unavailable at the last minute. Or who knows. The timing varying isn't unusual either.

(c) You interviewed with engineers.. reserved seems pretty typical.

(d) Getting an offer the day after or even the day of the interview is quite common. You should be happy! When companies want someone, they will make an offer right away to not lose them. Typically, if you interview and don't hear back quickly, it means they aren't interested or they want someone else more and are seeing if they get them before going to you as their second choice. So this is as expected, actually.

(e) Who cares how many candidates they got? They want YOU.

(f) Did they offer a salary lower than what you told them you were looking for? Or you asked for lower than market? You can always negotiate. You can go back to them and ask if they would be able to offer X amount. Just be professional. Typically, when you negotiate, you want to ask for everything you want at once, not ask for a better salary and if they say yes then ask for more vacation and then ask for something else. You ask for all the things you want and the expectation is that if they come back and agree to your terms, you'll accept the job. You don't HAVE to, but it's standard practice. They may come back with a higher offer than their original even if it's not as high was what you tried to negotiate. Either way, you won't get it if you don't ask.

(g) Try to negotiate the benefits at the same time. Some things are not going to be negotiable, but again, you won't get it if you don't ask. And the worst they can say is no.

So from there, I don't think they sound suspicious at all.

2. I have a few questions for you:

(a) Do you currently have a job?

(b) What did you tell them when you asked for an extension? Depending on what you told them already, I would be hesitant to ask for another extension. It doesn't make it look like you are interested in THEM and that you're waiting for a better offer to come around. If you can word it well and carefully, you could explain you have another interview scheduled for Monday and even though you are HIGHLY leaning towards Company A, you want to be fair to Company B and give them an opportunity. Just stress that you're strongly leaning towards Company A even if it's not true.

(c) Have you told Company B you have an offer on the table that you need to answer by Friday? If not, do so right away. Be humble about it, but tell them that you have a job offer that you have to respond by Friday. And even though you like Company A (no need to tell them WHO they are), you're really interested in Company B and therefore want the opportunity to meet with them before making your decision about Company A. They will appreciate you being upfront.

3. If you can't get another extension, I personally would accept the offer with Company A and still meet with Company B on Monday. I would tell Company B that you have to make a decision by Tuesday, though. That way it lights a fire under their ass, so once they meet you on Monday they know they have to either jump on making an offer, or they will lose you. And to be honest, refer to what I said above, if they don't offer you a job the day of or soon after your interview, they don't really want you. That's just the harsh truth.

And yes, it's not ideal to accept an offer and then turn it down, but it happens. More often than you'd think. And really, you would be accepting and declining within a couple of days. They wouldn't really lose a lot of time. Try to avoid this, but at the end of the day, you need to do what's best for YOU. No one else will look out for you. Ever. You have to look out for yourself in ANY and ALL jobs. Period.

4. Given the low salary for Company A, I would make sure that you communicate your expected salary to Company B better than you did for Company A (unless they offered you something much lower than what you asked for). I'm actually thinking that Company A might want you even more because you're cheaper than the other candidates. :P

Good luck!! Let us know what happens!
posted by Georgia Is All Out Of Smokes at 11:57 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

If ending up with no offers is a non-option, Option 3 is the obvious answer. You're protecting your needs while potentially inconveniencing an employer. Not the end of the world.

If you can stand ending up with no offers, ask for the extension.
posted by paulcole at 12:00 AM on February 26, 2015

I think you'll be disappointed if you accept the offer from Company A, knowing that sexy and remunerative Company B may have been within your grasp. That being the case, I think you need to:
  1. Tell Company B that you have an offer in hand and they're pushing you to make a decision, can you please be interviewed on Friday.
  2. Tell Company that you will not be able to give an answer until Monday.
  3. If you fail to get the job with Company A, you can still tell Company B that you require more money and better benefits. If they've given you extra time twice then you really are highly desirable.
But please: don't accept an offer unconditionally if you're not committed to keeping the agreement. It may possibly be illegal; it can be very bad for your reputation; and it's a sucky thing to do.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:40 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

If the offer from job A isn't what you're looking for, decline it or negotiate it. I have found that if I've felt uneasy about something, for WHATEVER the reason, trust your gut. But the interview stuff...that's normal. Recruiters give you their best idea, but interviewers often go off script.

Job B looks promising, but there's no guarantee. It may also not result in the kind of offer you want ultimately.

What about job c? The one that's the right money, the right benefits and the right chemistry?

If you're not pressed to get a new job, if this is just you dipping your toes into the pond, tell Job A, "I'm sorry, the offer just isn't where I need it to be. I appreciate the opportunity to meet with you."

I would tell Job B that you have an offer and ask them if they can accelerate their process, if they're interested in you, they will. If you're just another candidate and they won't. And if that's the case, you now have a new data point to consider.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:32 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Option C is exactly what you should do. This situation happens all the time. You have a job offer in hand, accept it. Go to your interviews with the second company. If you get a better offer, yay! As long as you handle it professionally with the first company, you are fine.

"I have unexpectedly received a job offer from B that is a much better fit in terms of salary and benefits, which I have accepted. Thank you for the opportunity you provided."

Company A should already know their salary offer is low, so you have moved them forward in their search by confirming it. This is a business decision on your part, your first responsibility is to yourself.
posted by raisingsand at 7:58 AM on February 26, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far. Good stuff to think about. I want to add some more details; they might change the equation a bit?

- I left my previous job about a year ago to chill and pursue my own interests. I started job-hunting in December.
- Yes, when I pinged Company B yesterday, I told them about the offer. They said Friday (tomorrow) is their monthly hackathon day and typically interviews aren't done then, but they'll try to make an exception.
- When I was in early talks with Company A, they asked what I was expecting in compensation. I said "fair market rate" because I didn't have a hard number in mind, to which they pressed "do you have a number?" I bumbled and stated the way-below-average salary at my previous job as a baseline. So they said "ok, we can do higher, but because you've been out of work for a year, it's going to be below-average". So I might have shot my negotiating foot there? I suppose I can try the benefits, though it's all a cafeteria plan. (Company B hasn't asked me anything about compensation yet...)
- While Company A's interview process may not be that uncommon, the other companies have been very professional and on-point; if they said "you'll be meeting with this and asked that", it did happen. So I probably did apples-to-apples when it should be oranges...?
- My first extension went like this: "Earlier I said I'll have a decision by Wednesday, however, I'm now estimating that to be Friday. I'm excited by the opportunity, but I also want to make sure I've fully explored all my options".
- My financial situation is fine, but I don't want to keep living off my savings for another year either, especially since my own interests hasn't really gone anywhere financially.

Either way, I should be hearing back from Company B this morning.
posted by curagea at 9:42 AM on February 26, 2015

So they said "ok, we can do higher, but because you've been out of work for a year, it's going to be below-average". So I might have shot my negotiating foot there?

Ya think? Even so, their answer is a no-go. Just get back with them and say, "I'm going to have to decline because I'm entertaining other, more lucrative offers. thank you for the opportunity."

When pressed in the future, give a range, "I expect to make between Foo and Bah, depending on total compensation." That gives you room to negotiate.

You know what you'll take, don't EVER talk about less. Talking money early is smart, it weeds out the jobs that aren't going to pay.

Also, give Job A a miss because anyone who thinks you're less valuable based on time out of the workforce, when they clearly want your skill set...that is a big ball of bullshit and you should run from them like you're hair is on fire.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:44 PM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

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