I was reviewing Podcast 14 - How to Handle Offers.  The advice given in this podcast was that if you are interviewing with multiple companies, you *should* mention existing offers.  The advice went beyond that to essentially say the applicant should affirmatively call up B to tell that company about an offer from A, and to tell B something along the lines of I am excited about the offer from A but also hope to receive one from B.  The advice went even further to say that you should call up B, tell them about the offer from A, and then ALSO mention how much the offer amount was.

Did I understand this point correctly?  If so, it seems like bad advice to me....or at least a risky practice.  If B brings up the issue at an interview and asks whether I have any other offers, then yes, I can definitely see being forthright.  However, I can't imagine affirmatively calling up B to say hey, I got an offer from A.  That would seem to have real potential to be misinterpreted and backfire.  What would be the perceived upside?


mattpalmer's picture

The upside of telling company B that you've got an offer from A is primarily to get them moving on getting you an offer, if they want to get one to you.  Telling B the amount that A offered is designed, I would expect, to tell B how much they need to offer to be "in the game".  The problem with doing that is if you want to work for B more, and you'd be willing to take less from B than A, it all gets messy.  In theory, if you got an offer from B you could use it to chisel more money out of A, but trying to incite a bidding war risks you losing all your offers.  I wouldn't be inclined to do that unless I really wanted to burn some bridges, but then I have a very laid-back attitude to money -- if I've got enough to live on (and I don't have a lavish lifestyle), then I'm happy, and I'll look for the job with the most interesting problems to solve.

I would never call B and tell them I got an offer from A unless I had already had at least a positive-feeling phone screen from B.  Otherwise, you're going to come off as arrogant.  I think I'd laugh at a candidate who sent their resume in, and before I had a chance to phone screen them they were on the phone telling me they had another offer and I'd better hurry up and make them an offer quick sticks.

STEVENM's picture

A lot of the MT advice comes down to efficient use of time and energy.  Letting B know what's going on will save them time, save you time, and give you the best chance to have multiple offers in your decision window.  Understand that both sides have risk.  The risk of inaction is fewer options.  If A makes an offer and B doesn't know they may not put any work into getting their offer ready before you have to make a decision with A.  Then you either go with A when B might have been better, or wait and risk having nothing at all.

I would say it is a risky practice, though.  Most practices are.  It could easily be frustrating for the person you tell.  It could also make their search easier and make them relieved.  No way to guess.

mmann's picture
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I consider this a professional courtesy.  An effective recruiter or hiring manager asks screened candidates if they're interviewing with anyone else, and asks to be kept informed of the candidate's other opportunities.

As a hiring manager, I use this information to galvanize action in others along the approval chain.