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If I am interviewing for companies A and B, and company A makes me an offer but I don't want to commit without knowing the result of the process with company B, what is my best option?

Option 1: Accept company A, and stick with it (even if it means posteriorly having to decline a possibly better offer from company B) - this is, naturally, what I want to avoid;

Option 2: Accept company A, and if I get a better offer from company B / decide I like the position more (etc), quit from company A's offer (possibly harming the 'network' I built with them, and risking not being selected in future processes for company A);

Option 3: Tell company B I have a pending offer from another company, but that I would like to know the output of the process with them because I'm very interested in the position in company B - I am afraid that, with this option, I would be rude to company A for eventually taking to long to reply (depending on the time company B takes to act), and I am also afraid that I would seem to be lying to company B (in a 'make me an offer because the proof that I'm good is that I have another pending offer' way), therefore lowering my chances of having an offer by option B.

I am just begining my career, and therefore have zero experience with this kinds of situations, so I am very undecisive about what to eventually do.

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Tell company B I have a pending offer from another company, but that I would like to know the output of the process with them because I'm very interested in the position in company B

This is the correct way to deal with the situation.

It's important to know beforehand how much time you have to reach a decision with Company A, and respect that deadline.

Then tell Company B that you must reach a decision by that time, and would like to see if they can speed things up.

If Company B can't give you a decision in a relevant time frame, you'll have a choice to make. Either you accept Company A's offer and don't look back, or you bet on yourself and reject Company A's offer - expecting that you'll land a better job with Company B.

The risk is that you end up with neither. But if you already have two companies interested, there is always a Company C out there.

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  • 1
    In addition, you can ask Company A for some more time. There is no guarantee that they'll give it, but most places you'll want to work for will give you the time so that you can make the best decision. Sep 4 '20 at 17:13
  • Is it acceptable to accept and then back up on an offer? Sorry, I'm new to this!
    – Johanna
    Sep 4 '20 at 17:25
  • I have done it (US - Ohio) with no legal ramifications. However, I had accepted beforehand that I would probably be killing any chances I ever had at the first company by doing so. Sep 4 '20 at 17:42
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    I've also done this before. I asked Company A if I can get back to them with a decision by the end of the week, to which they said yes. Then I contacted Company B and asked if they made a decision to move forward because I have another offer on the table. Company B gave me a better offer which I accepted and I politely declined the offer from Company A within the said time-frame.
    – lemon
    Sep 4 '20 at 18:08
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Companies generally understand that a candidate is not interviewing with only them; if you state as much it won't be a disqualifying factor. So you should tell each company:

To company B first: Tell them you have an offer in hand from another company (don't say who, that's unprofessional to company A) but you are still interested in company B and want to give them a chance to submit their offer as well. Ask them for an update and, if you are at the end of their interview process, ask them to speed up their offer so you can consider it properly.

Then to company A: If company B says they can't get you their offer in less than a week, then take company A's offer; usually it's rude to ask for more than a week of leniency. If the turnaround time for company B is less than a week, tell company A that you are awaiting another offer and you'd like some extra time to consider both offers. Tell them the amount of time it will take to get the other offer (don't tell them anything about the offer, just say like "I'd like 3 days to consider" or something). Then see what they say.

Important notes:

  • Don't tell each company the name of the other company. It's not their business.
  • Don't ask company A for more than a week of leniency, that's rude.
  • Don't be afraid to let each company know you are interviewing with other companies, it's not unusual.
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  • You can say who. That's not unprofessional. In fact its fairly common if you think it will help. Saying you have an offer from Google may improve the offer they give you to match what Google typically pays, for example. Or may turn a borderline interview into an offer "Oh, Google wants him, he must be good". Its a negotiating tactic, and not rude or unprofessional in the slightest. But agreed on everything else. Generally recruiters ask who else you're interviewing with so they know the timelines you're involved in, and move things faster if necessary. Sep 6 '20 at 6:33

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