6

Company A offered me a deadline to accept a verbal offer (email). It was pretty detailed regarding salary, benefits etc.

I have accepted said offer using email.

Now Company B wants to have a final-round interview with me. Is it ethical to make it to their interview?

My gut says "no", but I've been reading up and it seems like a verbal offer isn't really an offer until it's a contract. Thus, from a pragmatic perspective, it makes sense to keep interviewing until I've signed the contract.

Am I thinking correctly about this?

TLDR; should I continue interviewing after verbally accepting an offer?

22

Yes, not only that, but recommended.

The advise on pretty much all questions on this site (over and over) is:

Don't change what you're doing until you have a signed contract in your hand.

I.e. A verbal offer is only worth a strangers-word and is not concrete. Until they have sent that contract to you and it has been signed, everything is still up in the air. Don't change what you are doing until you have that document.

  • 1
    This. Nothing is certain until it's written down and signed. An email may be a kind of evidence but it can still be just a means of communication – Belhenix Nov 15 at 0:49
  • This is a good answer for situations where a contract is the norm and where one will be forthcoming. But what should you do if your employer says, "uhhh... we don't do employment contracts"? – dwizum Nov 15 at 13:18
  • @dwizum In what situation would you not have an employment contract? I personally would avoid that job – Bee Nov 15 at 14:19
  • I've never had an employment contract. They're highly regional and industry-dependent. In many locations and industries, they're simply not a thing that normally happens. Insisting on one would just cause confusion at best. – dwizum Nov 15 at 14:30
3

You asked,

should I continue interviewing after verbally accepting an offer?

And you made a good point when you said,

I've been reading up and it seems like a verbal offer isn't really an offer until it's a contract

Ultimately, in a black and white world, that's basically true. Until you have a signed contract, you should continue to pursue options.

However, practically, that may play out differently in different scenarios. In some cultures/industries/areas, it's not common to ever get a signed contract - the closest you may get is an offer letter, which is usually not even legally binding - so in a sense, it's really no different than a verbal offer.

If the verbal offer contained enough detail that you are 100% sure you are interested, and you're able to quickly get at least some degree of confirmation in some written form (an offer letter, or email, etc), then it may be time to commit and take yourself off the market.

However, if the verbal offer was very high level - it didn't include the full benefits package, or it was otherwise a "rough" offer, then you should absolutely continue pursuing other opportunities until you feel that you have a firm, and detailed, commitment from a given employer.

  • 1
    yep, it was an email, with precise info about benefits/salary etc – nz_21 Nov 14 at 16:34
  • I've switched jobs many times in my career, and have spent a large portion of it as a hiring manager. I have never received, or given, a literal employment contract. An email or paper offer with full details (salary, PTO, health insurance, retirement plans, work from home or other relevant policies, etc) is the best there ever was. The trick is making sure you have the detail to evaluate the offer, and it's being delivered in a method that's typical for your context. – dwizum Nov 14 at 16:37
  • @dwizum What do you "the trick is"? It sounds like two parties trusting each other and at least verbally/in writing agreeing to conditions without hashing out a lot of the what-ifs. I don't see where there is a "trick," unless that, in practice, plays out to the advantage of your company – Mars Nov 15 at 0:49
  • 1
    @Mars I didn't mean trick as in "the thing that will cause you to get fooled by another party." I meant it as in, "the important thing, which may be easy to miss, is," I can see now how my wording may have been unclear but it's too late to edit the prior comment. – dwizum Nov 15 at 13:17
3

No, it's not unethical until your seat is firmly planted behind the desk at the new job.

I've seen 11th hour retractions of offers, you owe the companies nothing until you are actually an employee

  • 1
    Re: "I've seen 11th hour retractions of offers": I would consider that unethical on the company's part. It doesn't justify behaving unethically toward other companies. – ruakh Nov 15 at 4:26
  • @ruakh That's not what I am saying at all. Please don't cherry pick, it's bad form – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Nov 15 at 11:48
  • Re: "That's not what I am saying at all": Then I invite you to clarify. Re: "Please don't cherry pick, it's bad form": Don't worry -- I never do. – ruakh Nov 15 at 20:37
  • 1
    @ruakh it's only two sentences. Which words are giving you trouble? – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Nov 18 at 14:02
  • 1
    @ruakh Last minute retraction of offer has happened to me and I did not consider it unethical. The company had signed a contract with a client and I was hired to work on that contract. The contract suddenly and unexpectedly fell through so they had to rescind the offers made to myself and the others who had been hired to work on that client's contract. They were very apologetic. I don't think it was an ethics issue. And thankfully, I had kept interviewing in the meantime, so I told them it was no problem. – notmySOaccount Dec 1 at 3:00
1

Ethics:

You are ethically bound to be honest (in most situations), and if you agreed to work for someone then that's what you must do.

However, there is nothing wrong with going for an interview unless you said that you would not do that. If something happens to stop you attending the first job, you might be able to proceed with the second and avoid unnecessary suffering.

But, you must not be going to that interview with any other intent. If you're going because the money, job, or working conditions may be better, then you are being dishonest and acting unethically.

Law:

In the UK at least, the agreement between parties is what matters, and the contract is just a memorandum of that agreement. It holds great weight in court and other matters as evidence of the agreement, but that's its only role -- as evidence of an agreement.

So, your verbal agreement is legally binding against the terms you discussed. If those terms change, then you are no longer bound by that agreement. For example, if you agreed to £100/hour for your time, but the final contract says £50/hour, then you are under no obligation to move forward at that time. But, if everything is in order, then you are required to sign the contract because the agreement has already been made.

-1

With the caveat that customs and contracts vary by location, I need to go one step past yes. You should keep interviewing until you've landed where you're landing for the foreseeable future.

Finding and starting a new job implies a settling down period. No reasonable company can expect that all applicants are ONLY talking with them. So at minimum, just as they can decide to talk with other applicants, you, too, should feel free to keep your other options open until there truly is a commitment. Companies will understandably pressure you into committing ("we need an answer by Thursday") without you having knowledge of what your other potential outcomes will be. In order to lock you down, they are assuming a little risk that other options you set in motion will pan out.

Let's say two weeks into the new job at Company A, you finally hear back from Company B with a better offer. While Company A won't necessarily like you leaving, you have to keep in mind what you owe yourself. Why should you pass up what is best for you based on the very short relationship you had with Company A?

Yes, there is likely to be some frustration and you probably will have a hard time going back to Company A. But would you pass up who you think might be the love of your life because you've been on two dates with someone else? Company A will call their second choice and not long after everyone will be happier.

  • 2
    I would advise being very careful about this. If you think there's a chance of an offer from another company, it might make the most sense to hold off any decision until you get that offer. Starting at one job and then immediately abandoning because you got a better offer is an easy way to get blacklisted. I know in my area and my industry at least, recruiters share names of people who do things like this. – dwizum Nov 14 at 20:25
-2

You don't owe loyalty to a company ever. That's a myth the elites have propagated to create a servant class.

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