Interviewing for a job with another offer already out there
June 6, 2007 1:11 PM   Subscribe

I was offered a job that starts next week. I have an interview tomorrow for a job I'd rather have. How should I approach this during the interview?

When it rains, it pours.

After not working for a while, I was just offered a contract job with one company. They want me to start at the end of next week. I have accepted the offer, but tomorrow I have an interview for a full-time job that I would much rather have. I am not sure how long they would take to make the decision, but I am wondering how, or if, I should mention that I need an answer as soon as possible about my prospects with the company.

Some additional info: the job I'm interviewing for is an entry-level position for a smaller company and I believe there's only one round of interviews. I'm also fairly confident that I will be offered the position (I'm not sure, of course, but my general feeling is one of positivity). Advice, personal anecdotes, and anything else helpful or interesting would be appreciated. Thanks :)
posted by apple scruff to Work & Money (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
go to the interview as if you had no other offer. if they ask, tell the truth (you do have an offer but this job sounds very interesting, too), otherwise don't bother disclosing it.

should you get an offer, disclose your preference to the other, less desired, employer. see if they are willing to throw you an extra bone. their response should tell you a lot about your possible future there. if you feel lucky, ask for a few days from your more desired employer and explain that there is another offer that's *technically better* (and hint that you like them more ... which might prompt them to sweeten the deal a bit).

it's not pouring. it's fucking sunshine. you have two potential jobs. you should be grinning from ear to ear. now be nice, be professional and see what happens.
posted by krautland at 1:21 PM on June 6, 2007

Until you get offered the second job, you don't have a problem. Once offered, you have a problem of the good variety ;)

I think this easy, particularly since job 1 is contract. If the interview at job 2 goes well, do tell them that you are interested, but have a contract gig starting the next week. If the feeling is mutual they likely have the flexibility (being a smaller co) to speed up the process.

I assume the contract gig is structured so that they can cancel it at any time, and you can likewise? If so, start the contract as planned and if the new job pops simply provide two weeks notice telling them that a full time gig with benefits etc that you interviewed for weeks ago just came through. They won't be happy, but they will most likely understand.
posted by COD at 1:24 PM on June 6, 2007

I'd just keep schtum, if you get the job and you've already started at the other place just leave, not like you'd put it on your resume or use anyone there for references.
posted by zeoslap at 1:36 PM on June 6, 2007

Response by poster: FYI, the saying "when it rains, it pours" isn't meant to convey a positive or negative assessment of the situation; it's just referring to the fact that after a dry spell I have had one offer and one very promising interview in a span of three days, hence my question.
posted by apple scruff at 2:00 PM on June 6, 2007

I did this once. Accepted a job, got an interview for a dream job and ended up taking the dream job. Called up the first place, told them the deal, told them sorry and that was that. Never thought about it again until today.

Of course, the first job was not in my field and there was absolutely zero chance that I would ever encounter those people ever again, and I haven't (in 30 years).

So I say if you get the other job, just be upfront with the first place. Better you should piss off people you don't know than regret this for years. Ditto the second interview. Let them know you have to weigh options and any help they can give in terms of getting you an answer would be appreciated (don't make it an ultimatum)

P.S. The dream job changed my life. It was one of the better decisions I've ever made.
posted by nax at 2:37 PM on June 6, 2007

If you've negotiated a price for the first job and signed a contract then I think you should follow through with it.

Either way though, you should follow through with the competing interview, if only for the interviewing experience. It almost always takes longer than you think for companies to come to a decision and it might not end up being a conflict. Even if you're ultimately not able to take the 2nd position, you might be able to reopen that door later on down the road. If they ask, be straightforward about your job situation.

Also, regarding "when it rains it pours," I think the idiom you're looking for is an "embarrassment of riches."
posted by Jeff Howard at 2:49 PM on June 6, 2007

(Since you didn't mention the circumstances of this contract assignment, I'll write this from the perspective that you're just labor in this situation - brought on to be part of a team delivering a project for a large company.)

I am not your recruiter, nor the purchasing agent/HR department coordinating your contract, but I've got a number of years of experience in both those roles. Here's the truth from both perspectives:

If you're working with a recruiter who has placed you on a contract assignment with their client, you have likely made only a verbal commitment and have signed some employment paperwork (the usual government stuff, not an "I will fulfill or else" set of documents) at this point. Basically, you represent to them two things - a positive income stream, and further proof to their client that they can supply good people when called upon. They don't really care about you until you present a problem in one of those two areas.

As the representative of the client (HR, Purchasing, and/or the Hiring Manager), you are a means to an end of their project. The reason you are offered a job on a contract is some combination of the work having a level of completion which satisfies your contribution, and a labor philosophy that dictates having some flexibility with some portion of their workforce - and by "flexibility," I mean that contractors are disposable.

Neither the recruiter nor the client are willing or able to commit to you as an employee they wish to hire, train, mentor and grow into something more valuable. You're temporary labor. You get a line item on your resume, some valuable experience, and (hopefully) fair compensation for the skills you bring and the risks in this situation you absorb.

If you decide to back out of the contract offer, you'll never work with that recruiter or that client company again. If the client is your "dream employer," don't screw with karma. If they hold no special meaning for your future, don't worry about it.

People back out of contract offers ALL THE TIME. Speaking from the client side, it can and does cause "pain" to the production cycle of a project, and it does cause a little unnecessary anger and resentment.

What do you care? You were an income stream, a means of establishing brand credibility, a stop-gap solution, and a disposable worker to them. They are all looking out for their own best interests by coordinating your services. You should look out for yourself too.

Go on the interview, tell them about the other offer if they ask, take the job you feel gives you the best opportunities for your future, and don't worry at all about the contract job. This isn't unusual in this industry. You're going to be seen as a little bit of an a-hole by both sides for a day or two for screwing them over, but that is forgotten quickly.

Don't worry about it. Go after what you want without regrets.
posted by peacecorn at 3:59 PM on June 6, 2007 [3 favorites]

A new guy was supposed to start on Wednesday in the IT/NetEng department of the small company for which I work. Not even as a contractor, but as a full-time employee. He called Tuesday night and said that he wasn't going to come in; he insinuated further that he had received another offer.

I can tell you we don't think highly of the dude. But, that hardly matters. Unless he's naive enough to apply at our shop again, I cannot imagine seeing this dude ever. Furthermore, I completely understand why someone might do that. It's a dick move, but human.

Don't mention anything to anybody about anything, unless asked. Don't even mention it as a means of pitting them against each other; nobody hiring a contractor is going to get into a bidding war.
posted by Netzapper at 4:15 PM on June 6, 2007

Yeah, this depends very much on the circumstances of the field you work in -- is it a tight=knit community where everyone knows everyone, or are you just another face in the crowd? Don't assume that just because it is an entry-level job at a small company that they will move quickly. I would go ahead and do the interview without mentioning the new job (you could tell them you have another, less appealing offer, if asked), and start work at the contract place without telling them about the interview. If you get the better job, now is the time to come clean to your current employers. They are human, and will understand the concept of a better offer. And even if they don't, so what, you've got another job already!
posted by Rock Steady at 7:55 PM on June 6, 2007

i would definitely vote against seeking a counter-offer from the contract employer. Especially since you haven't even started yet. If you do throw that out there, they're always going to think of you as a strongly-probably short-timer (which i guess you are anyway if you're only on a contract job!).
I would definitely continue with your current interview plans, and if they do ask you what you've been doing for your job search indicate you have interest from other employers. I wouldn't necessarily say you've accepted another job because then it will look to them as though you are willing to go back on your word at the drop of a hat, just say you have another offer when asked . That is also something you could consider bringing up when you meet with HR as part of your interviews -- that you're very interested in their company, they are your first choice, but time is of an essence. I would think there to be little contest between a contract job and a full time permanent position. The only leverage you might try to get is to have the contract job offer you something permanent, but it sounds like you don't even want that.
posted by Soulbee at 7:49 AM on June 7, 2007

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