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I’m in a personally rare situation in my job hunt where I have multiple positive interviews occurring, for 3-4 companies that all seem quite interesting. I've got one official offer, through a company I’ve been talking to for multiple months, and the others in their final stages where I’m still hoping for offers. Ideally I’d like to finish all 3 remaining interview processes and make an informed decision based on that. There are no guarantees of any more offers of course.

  1. How can I effectively defer/time the interview processes to allow for this? The single offer does not know I'm interviewing elsewhere, but it could be useful to negotiate salary still, as that needs to be discussed. I’ve asked for time to review the papers on that one, as I don't want to start final negotiations on something I can’t commit to immediately. The potential start date is also rapidly approaching.
  2. If any other offers occur from the positive interviews, I’ll end up negotiating and choosing one. Is it reasonable to pass on the others, but express interest if opportunity presented itself again in the future? Or generally would I just thank them, and potentially reapply at a future time and start over from scratch?

marked as duplicate by jcmeloni, gnat, Michael Grubey, Joe Strazzere, IDrinkandIKnowThings May 22 '14 at 18:39

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I've actually been noticing this occurs more often (in my personal experience) now that the economy is getting better. Generally, what I find works best is to politely keep all interested parties informed of my current state regarding other serious parties.

This last time around (I'm a contractor, so I have a lot of turnover) I ended up on a third interview with a company I really wanted to work for, and a same-day-as-first interview offer from another company (really nice folks but I wasn't thrilled with the type of work), as well as a "what would it take to get you to work for us?" from a third company.

I gave the third company an honest answer, outlining how their offer would have to change before I would accept it. I told the second company that I couldn't give them an answer until I knew if the first company was going to hire or reject me. The second company reaffirmed the offer, even knowing that if the first company wanted to hire me I would accept.

I am still working for the second company. The headhunter who'd gotten me the interview with the first company kept stringing me on for months ("They say you are at the top of their list, they are just forced to interview this internal prospect first") and eventually he just stopped calling.

To be honest, if they had gotten back to me after the first couple of months and said "we want you now" I'd have told then they had to wait until my current contract had finished. IMO it would have been unprofessional to do otherwise. But I was curious at to what the final outcome would be, and now I know.

The rule of thumb that I try to follow these days is:

If you get an offer that you would have taken if there were no other prospects, let the others know and if you don't get a serious offer within a couple of days take the first one. It is very rare that a company who is serious about you will not make you an immediate offer if faced with the prospect of losing you. That wasn't true five years ago, but, at least in my profession, it is now.

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The single offer does not know I'm interviewing elsewhere, but it could be useful to negotiate salary still, as that needs to be discussed.

Do you have any ETA on when other offers will come through? If yes, then simply tell a white lie. Tell them it’s summer & something came up can you get back to them in a few days or weeks? But if you have no idea when other offers will come in, it might be in your best interest to simply tell another white lie: Tell the first company you already have another offer so you can’t commit right now. They will most likely ask if there is a salary difference & you can then play that by ear. I would err on the side of saying the salary is slightly better from company B, but there are aspects of company A you really like so that is why you are on the fence.

Then you say this:

Is it reasonable to pass on the others, but express interest if opportunity presented itself again in the future?

100% fine. The reality is that saying something like that is really a rote & expected part of the process. Depending on the culture of the organization you are saying this to, they might actually seriously consider you in the future, or they might simply discard your application entirely. If you apply in the future just mention the past offer & take it from there.

  • I've asked the other interview processes to expediate things and they seemed to indicate if things continue well, things could be determined in the next week. They are positive, but as mentioned, there are no guarantees with these things until they materialize-- I'm aware of that. – Miro May 21 '14 at 14:30
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    @Miro Well, I don’t know what country you are in, but in the U.S. Memorial Day weekend is this weekend. And people tend to take extended vacations before that weekend or after it. So I might use that as a “white lie” to delay the process. – JakeGould May 21 '14 at 14:31
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Coming from a recruiter, I'd try to be as open as possible to the recruiter or even the hiring manager. We can only work with you if we have all the data. Given that they don't know you're interviewing elsewhere indicates that either 1) They don't have a recruiter or their recruiter isn't very good or 2) You're hiding this from them for some unknown reason.

Either way, just be up front with them and let them know that you're looking at other opportunities. Why is there a need to even tell a white lie? Yes, it's easy but it also prevents them from being able to get in a position to win you as a candidate as they're effectively in the dark. Bringing something like this up late in the process is a big headache.

Here's my advice. Put compensation aside. Determine which opportunity you are most interested in and close on that job. Give them the chance to woo you.

Regarding staying in touch, that's just part of business. I've had many candidates decline my offers and come back telling me they made a bad choice. It happens but if you pull a quick one and at the last minute tell them you have other offers, that's tough to swallow. Better to be up front about it!

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