A recent query on CareerHub followed by a couple more similar queries led me to writing this blog. The query goes something like this:
If I was offered a job with Company A, but was having an interview with Company B in 2-3 days’ time (my preferred company), what is the best way to reply to Company A? What is an acceptable time period and how should I go about presenting this?
Although it’s great to have received the first job offer, this is a tricky situation to find yourself in and it’s not all that uncommon. The first thing you need to do is to call Company A and tell them that you’re very interested in the job and would like some time to think it over. Make sure you get them to send you all the details about the role so that you can carefully consider it. Also ask them when they need your answer by. Most employers will give you a few days to a week to consider the offer. It’s unlikely that you would be given longer than that. They often have other candidates who they need to get back to and a request for a longer time would make the employer question your real interest in the role.
Next, contact Company B immediately. Be honest and tell them that you’re extremely interested in working for them, but that you have received an offer from another company and you need to give them an answer by (whatever date has been agreed with Company A). Be very diplomatic and ask them politely if it would be possible for them to bring the interview forward, explaining to them that an offer from them would be your first choice. Generally, if a company is really interested in you they will do what they can to accommodate you.
Do what you can to expedite things, but above all, be courteous and respectful at all times. Do not risk damaging your reputation. New Zealand is a small country, people talk and you never know if the HR advisor in Company A ends up moving to Company B or vice-versa. Be prepared to hear that your preferred company won’t be able to make a decision before you need to respond to Company A. If that happens, you will need to decide whether you’re willing to turn down the offer you have, without any guarantee that an offer will come from your preferred company.