I was offered a position with several contingencies (drug test, background check and management interviews). It's been more than 4 weeks since I was given the offer and I'm still waiting on the background check to clear (I passed the management interview and drug test). I've heard little of nothing from the recruiter for two weeks and I now have another offer from another company. Can I back out of the first offer without consequences?

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    Have you tried to get in touch with the recruiter in the past two weeks? Did you try to contact them? If this is in US 4 weeks is quite long for a standard background check. – AlexanderM Oct 18 '19 at 4:21
  • You could try contacting the recruiter and tell them you've got another offer on the table, and ask whether there's any update. Sometimes, that can significantly speed things up. – Llewellyn Oct 18 '19 at 12:02
  • A tentative offer is not an offer. They could back out at any time. And so can you. – Stephan Branczyk Oct 19 '19 at 6:27
  • Did they give you any indication of how long the background check will take? If you're handling sensitive information and what it relates to it can take months to do a background check, but usually the company will give you a rough timeline. – Gamora Oct 21 '19 at 14:41
  • I wouldn't be so quick to move on. 4 weeks isn't all that out of the ordinary. – goat_fab Oct 21 '19 at 16:31

Can I back out of the first offer without consequences?

You can back out of a job offer at any point in time before you start the job. The only consequence may be some hard feelings on the part of the employer.

In many locales, you can even quit a job at any time without any repercussions.

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    "You can back out of a job offer at any point in time before you start the job" Maybe pedantic but an important distinction for some: you can back out before you sign the contract. Afterwards, you can only back out in a way that the contract (or local legislature) allows. – Flater Oct 18 '19 at 12:34

Unless you signed a contract with a penalty clause, there is absolutely no reason why you should not back out of an offer.

A future application to the company may not be looked upon too favourably, but that's about it for consequences.


Yes, you may back out of this offer.

Having two offers gives you some power. It is good to use that power to advance your personal career. The best way to use that kind of power is subtly. To exaggerate, think "iron fist inside velvet glove." You can be polite without being weak.

The wise / subtle thing is to give the first employer a last chance to get their act together. Call your point-of-contact in the company (not the recruiter unless she is a company employee), and say, "You gave me a contingent offer on --date--, and I haven't heard anything since --date--. I have another job offer in hand, and I need to get to work. When can I expect you to complete your background check so I can start working for you?"

You can expect a professional and clear response to your question, and you can decide whether it meets your needs. If you don't get a clear response, or it doesn't meet your needs, move on to the other job.

The first company will know why they lost you. That's what you will want when you are a hiring manager one day. (They'll finish background checks on time on your watch!)

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