I have two interviews, one day after the other. I am more keen on the second job, but if I am told quickly that I got the first, how long can I stall them, realistically?
It's entirely okay to ask for time to consider an offer. You should not feel like you have to give an answer about your employment at the end of the interview - a week or two to consider an offer isn't unreasonable.
If you do receive an offer, be upfront about wanting time to consider it. Ask when you need to get back to them - if it's too soon for you to hear back from the second interview, ask for an extra week. Employers excited to hire you will be accommodating.
It may even be a red flag if your interviewer or recruiter pressures you to accept an offer at the end of the interview or on the same day. The pressure they put on you as a candidate may be an indication of the pressure you would face as an employee.
Good luck with the interviews!
I've been this scenario before I got into the job that I have today, which was the last company to interview me. The first company already extended a job offer even before I interviewed with my company, the second company. I was more interested in the second company since I was more familiar with this company and I interned here.
I simply told the first company that I was still in the interview process with the second company and that I needed time to explore my possibilities. The first company told me that they respected my decisions.
Some recruiters and hiring managers will understand that you're trying to find more than one opportunity for yourself. Hopefully they have more than one person they will consider for the job if you decide to go to the other company. However, if they are quickly looking for someone for the job immediately, then they'll have to understand that you're trying to provide more flexibility for job opportunities. It'll be their loss and not yours.
The next day I interviewed at the second company, did really well, and asked them when I could expect an answer as to whether or not I've been chosen for the job. They told me that it would take about a week to let me know. I then emailed back the first company the next day and explained that the second company told me it would take a week for them to let me know about if I've been selected. Do not mention that you were more interested in the other company. This may seem obvious but you could accidentally reveal this information or create implications. Just be really careful about what you say. You should never mention that you weren't selected if you don't get the job you wanted. Instead, say that you were comparing your choices and you selected the first company. Lastly, never mention what company you're interviewing for. They don't need to know this and it's really none of their business. If you tell them what you're company you're looking for, they'll know more about your interests. For instance, the company I'm at now is a very large tech company. If I told this start up company that I was interviewing at a large tech company, they'd probably think I would never consider them if I had to make a choice between two companies and it wouldn't be a fair competition.
If you get the job with your preferred company, contact the other company and say something on the lines of, "Thank you, Company X, for the interview process and extending a job offer with me. I am very grateful for your interest in my talents. Unfortunately, after a lot of reviewing and considerations, I have decided to further my career with the company I told you all about with my second interview. I would like to empathize my appreciation for the opportunity that you all have provided for me."
If you don't get the job with your preferred company, contact the other company and say something on the lines of, "Thank you, Company X, for the interview process and extending a job offer with me. I am very grateful for your interest in my talents. After much reviewing and considerations, I have selected this company to progress in my career. I look forward to my first day with you all."
Good luck and I highly doubt you have anything to worry about from the first company.