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How to Handle a Job Offer While Waiting for an Interview

by Beth Winston

Getting a job offer at any point in your search is reason to celebrate. Being picked out of the competition for a job you are interested in should boost your confidence. But, if you have interviews arranged at several companies, and your favorite is still to come, that job offer is a dilemma as well as an opportunity.

Timing

You can be saved by timing. It’s reasonable to ask the company that offered the job for five business days to think it over. If your next interview falls within that time frame, things should work themselves out. You’ll get a good read at the second interview about whether to expect an offer, and if you are not their pick, you still have the first offer in your back pocket. If your second interview is more than a week away, you’ll have to be more proactive.

First Company

Speak to the hiring manager at the company where you have the job offer, and ask if you can delay your decision for a few extra days. List legitimate reasons such as relocation or your spouse’s input. If you really are the candidate they want, and they’re a good company to work for, they should be prepared to give you a little more leeway before requiring an answer.

Second Company

Contact the company which has yet to interview you. Explain your situation with the first offer to the hiring manager. You should not demand to have your interview moved up, but you could ask respectfully if there is anything they can do to help you. If you’re one of their top prospects, they might be open to interviewing you early. In addition, showing that you already have an offer should make you even more desirable. At no point in this conversation should the hiring company ever feel as if they’re being held to ransom.

Risk Tolerance

If you cannot manipulate the time frame for either company, you’re going to have to make a decision. You will have to weigh how much you want each job, and whether the second job is really so much better that you would consider turning down a concrete offer. If you really want the second job, and you have a high tolerance for risk, wait it out until the second interview. But if hiring is slow in your industry, and you believe it would be difficult to find another opportunity, go with the job you have been offered.

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