How to tell a company offering me a job to wait a little?
May 16, 2007 2:06 PM   Subscribe

I have a job offer from company A. I have a second interview coming up with company B. Company B is my first choice. Company A wants an answer ASAP. How do I ask them to wait another week?

Company A is asking for my answer before my second interview with Company B. If I don't get an offer at company B, I would still like to work for Company A, so I don't want to tell them "no, because I'm not sure what company B's decision is." What's professional in this situation? How do I keep them waiting on my answer without making them feel like they are, indeed, not my first choice? Help!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've come up empty on the search, but nearly this exact same question has been asked before. Maybe someone with better search capabilities can find it.
posted by FlamingBore at 2:16 PM on May 16, 2007

I'm not sure the ethics in this situation, but what if you tell A yes, and then, if you get the job at B (say after your first day at A) just tell A you realized you weren't a good fit for the position?
posted by drezdn at 2:17 PM on May 16, 2007

I don't know if my opinion is a popular one, but I think you should cover your ass unless you're willing to lose both Job A & Job B.

It's kind of obnoxious to company A, but accept the job and ask to start in 2-3 weeks so that you don't start before you find out about Company B. If Company B doesn't make an offer, then you've got your job. If Company B does make an offer, then you will send Company A a letter thanking them for position but let them know that you were given another offer in the interim that you have decided to pursue, and apologize. You will probably have burned a bridge with Company A, so take that into account.

Yes there is a lot of work involved in hiring someone, but a company will always put itself over any individual new employee if it needed to cut corners, so it's your responsibility to put yourself first since no one else will.
posted by tastybrains at 2:18 PM on May 16, 2007

I vote in favor of tastybrains & drezdn, assuming that you're in an at-will employment state.

In the best of all possible worlds, both A & B will want you, in which case you can play them off against one another for extra money.
posted by aramaic at 2:30 PM on May 16, 2007

How do I ask them to wait another week?

Ask them to wait another week.

If you're looking for a job, it's commonplace to receive interest from several possibilities and those possibilities be a little out of sync. So the professional answer is to simply ask Company A to wait. If, however, you're asking if you can have your cake and eat it, then the answer is no.

And from a philosophical point of view, if you do go the drezdn/ tastybrains/ aramaic route, then whether or not you piss off Company A, and no matter how many people respond to this question and tell you it's OK, at the end of the day it's still you who will have to answer to yourself.
posted by The_Partridge_Family at 2:45 PM on May 16, 2007

In this situation, I told company A I had an offer from company B and was trying to decide between two very good fits; I implied that I was leaning toward company B but waiting on more details. Company A gave me an extra week and a half, during which I finished the interview process with company B and was informed that they weren't going to hire me. I called A up and said I'd decided to work there. Obviously, this only worked because I told B I had an offer that I needed to deal with posthaste.

I'm glad it worked out the way it did, because I was smitten enough with the position at company B that I might have just turned down A to wait on interviewing with B (the way B treated me throughout the process made me less smitten as time went by). A would have been out an employee and I would have been out a job. I still haven't started the job (graduating in June); it may be a little less ethically admissible if A are being so hardnosed because they need you to start by Friday.
posted by crinklebat at 2:54 PM on May 16, 2007

...without making them feel like...

sorry I missed that bit - but it compounds my answer above: you should keep this strictly as a business decision, not an emotional one.
posted by The_Partridge_Family at 2:57 PM on May 16, 2007

Just say that you want to consider all offers carefully, and ask for another week. If they're pushing you for a reason, then you can use a joke excuse ("I need to consult my psychic), or if you have a significant other you can say something like, "I don't make employment decisions without consulting my partner, and s/he's out of town for a few days".

It's pretty common to be interviewing for more than one job at a time. I would be surprised if the company balks at giving you another week. If they do balk, then I would personally just let it go, on the assumption that it wouldn't be a good fit.
posted by muddgirl at 2:59 PM on May 16, 2007

I've been in this situation. What I opted to do felt pretty bad at the time, but it turned out well for me. I took the offer from Company A, who was pressuring me to answer and start NOWNOWNOW, and worked for them until I heard back from Company B. I ended up getting an offer from Company B, accepted, and resigned from Company A. They were, needless to say, unhappy but understanding.

I'm still at Company A three years later.
posted by hollisimo at 3:22 PM on May 16, 2007

Rather, I'm still at Company B.

Math is hard.
posted by hollisimo at 3:23 PM on May 16, 2007

"ASAP" is almost always just a management technique. Of course they want an answer right away, but that's no reason to submit to a hustle. You want the best job and offer possible, so asking them to wait a week shouldn't be a foul.

Disclaimer: I currently have a job.
posted by rhizome at 3:27 PM on May 16, 2007

This happens all the time. It's perfectly acceptable for you to accept the offer from A and then resign if B comes through. Try to buy some time, either for travel or to discuss things with your family, before you have to show up in the office. The trick is to simply tell them when you are going to start and not leave it as a matter of discussion; a simple 'I'll be in the office June 1 but please mail me the paper work now' should do.

Either way, businesses know how to care of themselves. Your only responsibility is to do what's best for you, your career and your family.
posted by nixerman at 3:37 PM on May 16, 2007

The answer to this question will also depend somewhat on the relationship between A and B. Are they both in the same industry? Will you be expected to interact, at some point in the future, with someone from Company A? If so, you really have to weigh that into the decision. Having to work with someone from a company that has informally "blacklisted" you can be really tough.

Personally, I would opt for asking for another week to make a decision. If they can't wait that long, they will tell you, but more than likely it will be fine. I would be much angrier with someone who accepted a position - causing me to drop the backups I have in line - and then quit/resigned, rather than someone who really took the time to determine where he/she wanted to work.
posted by gemmy at 4:13 PM on May 16, 2007

Company A wants an answer ASAP. You want them to pay you $1,000,000 a week. I want a pony. You getting my drift here?

Everything comes down to how willing you are to risk losing an opportunity, but I personally think you should at the very least make them wait till you've had the INTERVIEW with the other company and, in your shoes, I would flat-out say that you have already scheduled another interview and want to go to it first before you make a decision.

Then again, I personally feel like I have something to offer an employer and that the job selection process is a two-way street. It doesn't do either of us any good to make a poor choice in a hurry. Not everyone thinks that way, either on the employer side or the employee side. I'm okay with not working for people who don't feel the same way but maybe you want this job and aren't willing to walk away from it.

That's the thing you have to decide more than anything else: are you willing to walk away from this opportunity? It's an important question to know the answer to in any negotiation, whether it be for a job or buying a car. They could agree to wait and find someone who is a better fit in that time. They might be into instant gratification.

If you're willing to take that chance, this is what I'd say: "I understand you want to wrap this up, but I'm still making up my mind. I want to take a position somewhere that I'll be at for a long time and where I'm a good fit, and part of that for me is making sure I feel like I explored all my options. I'm interested in working for your company but I can't feel good about the decision until I've finished exploring my options, and part of that is going on the interview I've already scheduled. If there'd been another place that had made me an offer before we had our interview I'd have made the same request of them."

And realize they may just go on to the next choice, with or without agreeing to wait for you.
posted by phearlez at 4:32 PM on May 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

Unless Company A and B have a special relationship where they hug each other all day and share things, than you accept with Company A, and put the start date (you need to move right? right?) a couple weeks ahead. You wait for Company B.

I've accepted and then recanted the next day. It is not a big deal, unless you are a c-level position.
posted by geoff. at 4:36 PM on May 16, 2007

My default answer, when anyone wants a decision now now now is always "No."

I seriously doubt they need you that darned soon. Typically, people pressure you for an answer in order to deprive you of the ability to think things through. They want you to say "yes" because they are afraid that, if you had the time to look over the data, you'd say "no."

Alternatively, there's some Type A guy in the food chain who bangs around a lot and has to have everything instantly, including new job hires. Boy, that sounds fun to work for.

Neither is an appealing cause for their sudden demands.
posted by adipocere at 5:35 PM on May 16, 2007

Do you work in any kind of niche industry at all? Or one where reputation or networking is important? Or even just somewhere geographically somewhat small? Because being anything less than straight with these companies is going to look bad, and taking then dumping a job most definitely will piss them off and word will get around too. This can hurt your future career including with company B, I've seen it happen. Think carefully about implications before you make this kind of move, I've seen the resulting reputation follow someone around for years. I work within a community ('the research science community') where this shit matters, you may not.

Tell them you need an extra week. Tell them you have other options to pursue. Give them a deadline by which you can make a decision so they're not left hanging. Then negotiate from there. Most companies will understand and give you some leeway. At the least they'll tell you why they need to know so soon and you can decide how to deal with that. Don't lie, don't dick them around, act with integrity, then suck it up and make a decision.
posted by shelleycat at 5:51 PM on May 16, 2007

I'll concur with previous posters. I've seen people start a job and quit a few weeks later for something better. People are miffed, but a month down the road, everyone has forgotten their name. It's not a huge deal (depending on your line of work - perhaps this would not work well for lawyers. It works for DBAs.)

And, as others have said, tell them you need another week or two. They'll probably give it to you.
posted by GuyZero at 6:15 PM on May 16, 2007

I was in this exact position a couple months ago. My industry is very tight-knit, and people talk.

I asked Company A for an extra week to make my decision. They said OK. I think they realised I wanted to work at another company, because they called me the next day with a slightly better offer.

At my interview with Company B, I (quite honestly) explained that I needed their offer within two days, so I could take care of other employment offers. I presented this like I wanted to "be fair" to other companies, and I implied that it was inflexible.

Company B offered me the job two hours after our interview :)

Remember, they want you to work for them. They might not like it, but they're unlikely to give up on your offer just because you need an extra week.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 6:23 PM on May 16, 2007

Oh: if Company B had not gotten back to me two days later, I would have first called Company B to try to get a response.

Without a response from Company B in time for the 1 week extension I got from Company A, I would have taken the job with Company A.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 6:27 PM on May 16, 2007

I would tell them you are considering all offers, just like if you were selling a house, and you need another week. They may up their offer!
posted by thilmony at 6:30 PM on May 16, 2007

ASAP answers make sense for company A as recruiting is a massive pain in the arse and the sooner they close the deal the better it is for them. You could accept the offer to later decide to reneg ... that is the idea of the probationary period ... and it is a common occurrence ... but it ain't professional IMHO.

Option 2 is stalling ... ask for more money and better conditions, tell them that your laywer will need to review the contract, send them back a marked up version of the contract for them to review, send their version of the contract back to your lawyer for a 2nd review ... that has to be good for a week and a half of stalling. Ask them to explain their understanding of the [non-compete clause] [confidentiality clause] [some other clause in the contract] with reference to [your industry?] ... tell company B that you have another offer pending and they need to make up their minds ASAP ... even to the point of moving your interview forward to expedite the process.
posted by jannw at 8:14 AM on May 17, 2007

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