If I'm interviewing with more than one company, and one of the companies makes me an offer while I'm still going through the interview process with the others, can I delay my decision to accept or reject the offer, to allow the other companies to potentially make offers as well? And if so, how long a delay to the decision would be reasonable?

I assume that a day or two is reasonable, just to let me talk an offer over with my partner. But would it be reasonable for me to delay a little longer than that, in order to finish interviewing with the other companies?

jrosenau's picture

It is generally acceptable to expect 24 - 48 hours in which to make a decision on an offer.  Any longer than that, and the company will move on.


buhlerar's picture

Bottom line, you can let other companies know that you have an offer, but in practice it will only help if you're already at the offer stage with another company.  There isn't time to schedule any more interviews, evaluate you against other candidates, prepare an offer, and give you time to consider the offer before the first company is out of patience and moves to their next candidate.  You realistically can't do any more interviewing so you'll have to make a yes/no decision (not a decision between A and B).

For me, this is one of the most frustrating things about the interviewing process (I was in your shoes a few months ago).  As M&M describe it, you're all about collecting offers.  However, chances are you won't receive multiple offers within a specific 24-48 hour period.  So you must make a decision to accept or reject the first offer without knowing whether you'd get any others, or how they'd compare.

It's completely OK to let the other companies know you've received an offer. However, there are a couple of caveats. First, you can't come across as trying to manipulate the process or timing.  It's OK to share facts -- they certainly want to know if you've received an offer -- but stay away from any nudging. Second, if company A extended the offer, and you know you prefer company A to company B, then you might want to just accept the offer from A and then let B know that you're bowing out of consideration. Last thing you want to do is get company B whipped into a frenzy in order to put together an offer for you, and then you reject it.

One other small thing -- there might be a perceptual difference between a candidate who is currently employed versus unemployed. Not a universal rule, of course, but companies may have a little more patience with someone who they are luring away from another company.  Reason being, if you're out of work now, and you're asking for more time, then you must not be very interested (because you must be desparate for almost any job, right?).  If you're currently in a job, they already know you are making an A v. B decision (because you could choose to stay put) so they might be more patient with you.  But don't count on any more than a week even then.

If you're working through a recruiter, then in some cases they might (might!) know better where you stand with company B (and might know more details about the anticipated offer amount, etc.).

Obviously once you've made a decision, let everyone know what you decided (after you let the offering company know, of course).  If they try to make an offer at that point, simply decline on the spot -- even if it's your dream job there's a risk to your professional reputation (at both companies + any recruiters involved) if you go back on your acceptance.  Leave them disappointed but impressed rather than relieved but wary.  Your career could easily go that way again down the road.

Good luck.

mewse's picture

Thanks so much for that in-depth explanation, Buhlerar! What you've said basically confirms my intuitions on the matter, and then elaborates into a lot more detail. Makes me feel a lot more comfortable with the situation!

Thanks again.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

The guidance above is at best misleading.

Generally, offers have deadlines.  Often, these deadlines are one week, sometimes two.  Rarely more.  And yes, sometimes less.  A company who expects an answer in 24 hours is playing a game rather than being professional, but there's not much you can do.

If you don't know the deadline, ask.

If no deadline was given, you could PROBABLY assume a week.  With any reasonably professional company, they won't simply offer someone else without telling you.  Offers that haven't reached their deadline are still valid.  Otherwise, the offer is usually retracted (likely verbally).

As to the other question, you can't expect the company who has offered you to wait for you to finish with sundry companies.  That's rude of you - they've already expressed interest.  Thus, deadlines.

In today's market, if you had an offer from Co. A, I wouldn't recommend you ask for more time unless Co. B promised you a decision on an offer within 24 hours, and if they didn't make the deadline assume it's not coming, and accept A.



jrosenau's picture

Mark, Thanks for the feedback.  I was speaking from most of the experience I had - I've had people give me a 24/48 hour deadline.  I will take your advice in the future.  

Mewse - did not mean to mislead.


mewse's picture

Shortly after close of business today, I received the job offer which I was hoping for, and was given a soft 24 hour deadline to accept it.

My follow-up question is this: Assuming that I do accept the job offer tomorrow, and bearing in mind that I would not move to the new job until all of our current projects reach completion (about seven weeks away), at what point should I give notice to my current employer?

A few details: I like my current employer a lot, and I'm by far their most experienced employee. I was personal friends with most of the top-level people in the company long before coming to work for the company, and I want to do what's best for them, not just the minimum of what I'm professionally obligated to do. If this exciting other opportunity hadn't come up, I wouldn't be leaving the company at all. And someday I may well want to come back.

Ordinarily, I would tell them immediately after accepting any other offer, no matter how far off in the future it was, so that they'd have as much time as possible to make preparations. But tomorrow is a half-day, and is also the company's last working day of the year. I feel really awkward dropping a "By the way, I'll be leaving in a few months" bombshell on my friends immediately before they break for the holiday. And I worry that they'll end up spending their holidays thinking about job searches and future project deadlines, rather than getting the break that they so desperately need right now.

Re-stating the question: Would it be unprofessional behaviour for me to wait until after the holiday break to give my notice to my current employer? If I waited, I would still be giving them far more than the usually-recommended four weeks of notice.

awil's picture

If you are 100% sure that there is nothing positive that could be done over the break, I would not tell anyone. It's not as though you would be working every day with the thought "I'll be gone from here soon" in the back of your head!

Is there any chance your new employer would contact your current employer (for a reference etc) before you get a chance to give notice? You may have to consider this and perhaps then tell only your immediate manager so that he/she is not blindsided by a call from your new employer.

Otherwise I would tell your manager as soon as you are back, perhaps with an exit plan drafted so that he/she can see that you are aiming to pass on your responsibilities and open projects as efficiently as possible before you leave. After that then let your colleagues know your news.

And congratulations!


jhbchina's picture

Glad to read your got the offer you wanted. What a holiday gift.

Listen to the "How to Resign" Podcast. Podcast 311


It's not hard to do well, and in this series of casts, we make it a simple step by step process. If you're thinking that you already know how, consider that we recommend you need SIX WEEKS to do it well.


JHB  "00"

mewse's picture

Thanks so much for pointing me at that podcast, JHB! I now recall listening to it many years ago, but I had forgotten its specifics, so I'm listening to it again.

I suspect that there are a lot of earlier casts which I should go back and review in the near future; things which weren't relevant to me at the time they came out, and so didn't really 'stick' with me the way that they should have.

mewse's picture

As it turns out, my boss called in sick today, the last working day before the holiday break. So my whole "should I tell him immediately?" question became something I didn't have to worry about.

And the job offer has been accepted, and the paperwork is in the mail. It's my own little Christmas miracle! :)

Thanks again to everyone who chipped in with advice and insights along the way!