FYI: The person to whom I refer is a recent college graduate.

Someone who is close to me is currently pursuing an Administrative Assistant position at an unnamed company. She had a first interview with one of the "office manager[s]" of this company less than a week ago and was asked if she would be willing to "come on board." The manager then proceeded to give her some basic, vague details on pay and benefits, none of which was in writing. The pay was determined by the manager asking her "what's your bottom dollar;" she bypassed that question and did not give a specific figure. It is not clear to her whether or not this situation meant that she had an offer.

She has requested documentation containing details on benefits from the manager and the manager, again, has not offered any documentation outlining benefits or pay, not even an offer letter or a contract.

Should this be a cause for concern? What would you suggest that she do? She has had interviews at other places and the manager seems, to her, rather desperate to hire her.

Update: Apparently it was an offer. The manager has now asked her to do a drug test, and she will start training next week. If anyone has any further commentary on this, please feel free to comment.

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    If it's not in writing, it's not an offer. – aroth Aug 19 '14 at 5:30
  • Sure, but, if you were her, how would you have responded to the question "are you willing to come on board"? As indicated above, the manager has failed to provide documentation. – user26326 Aug 19 '14 at 5:31
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    I'd insist on getting a written offer, or if I was desperate to take this job, I would send a written response to the manager (i.e. an e-mail) saying "I accept the offer that you made to me for the position of Administrative Assistant at a rate of $x/hour, and look forward to commencing my employment on <date>. Please confirm if this suits.". Then at least there's some documentation of what was discussed, especially if you get a confirmation by e-mail. – aroth Aug 19 '14 at 5:35
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    Thank you @aroth. Is it reasonable to assume that the position is not legitimate if a written offer is not provided? – user26326 Aug 19 '14 at 5:38
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    I'm not naming the company to protect my friend's privacy. Without releasing too many details, it is a well-known national chain. – user26326 Aug 19 '14 at 5:44

Should this be a cause for concern?

The first impression is one of an unorganized manager (or even company), maybe worse.

What would you suggest that she do?

She should write an e-mail or a letter to this company in which she

  • thanks them for the interview and for their interest in hiring her.
  • asks them for a written offer and contract
  • states that she has other opportunities, so she would be glad to get their offer within one week (or so)

Then she should wait what happens. If an offer comes within the week, she should examine that offer. If no offer comes within the week, she should forget about this company.

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    Agreed 100%. The answer to "are you willing to come on board?" is "sure, send over a letter of offer". – Carson63000 Aug 19 '14 at 7:35

What would you suggest that she do?

It's not at all uncommon for a verbal offer to be given. If a verbal acceptance is returned, then the written offer should follow. Some companies don't want to spend time writing up the formal details of an offer, until they first get a verbal acceptance.

She should talk with the manager who made the verbal offer, indicate if she tentatively accepts the offer or not, then ask for the written details.

Assuming it's true, she should say "I really like what I'm seeing and would love to work here! If you can send me a written offer with the details, I'll review it quickly and get right back to you."

Once she receives the written details, she can accept, reject, or negotiate changes in the offer as warranted.

  • +1 - Some companies don't have a "new hire packet" nor do they over-night hiring contracts. You show up the first day of work and take care of all that. – user8365 Aug 19 '14 at 13:25

I once got a verbal offer in an interview. I was told they couldn't wait to have me on board and to wait for my offer letter. Over a week later I received a rejection email.

Nothing is a sure thing until it's in writing.

In your friend's case, I feel she should keep interviewing. If all of a sudden she does get the paperwork/offer letter for this job, then all is right in the world. She should not start working there without an official offer letter though.

If I was in your friend's shoes, I'd contact the manager and the hiring manager and say that I'm still waiting on the offer letter and benefits documentation and ask if there is anything that is holding up the process. Sometimes hiring communities are in the way, or maybe getting the budget for a new person hasn't been approved yet.

That being said though, what does her gut say? If she's already feeling sketchy about this place, is it really some place she wants to work?


I suspect you already know the answer, but let me write it for you. Your friend does not have a real job unless she has it in writing. In the best case scenario, she may have a position with a company so immature it doesn't know the rudiments of human resources. In the worst case scenario, your friend may end up "donating" a week or more of her time working for a position that doesn't exist for an employer who has no legal obligation to pay her.

  • You might want to add. The friend does not have a job until they are actually on the pay roll of the company. Until that happens, even with a signed written offer, the job technically disappear. – Donald Aug 19 '14 at 15:37

Being asked if you are willing to come on board is in no way a job offer. It is seeing if you are still interested in the job. It indicates you are one of the people they are interested in, but it does not commit them to choose you. Job offers come in writing with actual salary numbers attached.

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