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I recently applied for a position in three separate divisions of the same company (goverment organization, actually). The organization is big enough that the respective managers would not know each other. In my cover letter for each I mentioned that I had sent resumes to the other divisions as well. Division A got back to me first and I went in for an interview. Things went well, and we decided to move forward with the hiring process, which can take up to three months in the government. I told the manager that I would still be investigating other opportunities until I had a formal offer in hand. He said he understood and asked that I let him know if I found something else.

The following week I was contacted by Division B and went in for an interview exactly two weeks after the first. This also went very well, and the following week they called and expressed interest in moving forward with the hiring process. I was clear with Division B that I had already interviewed with Division A and that they were working towards getting an offer for me as well.

Now, 3.5 weeks after the first interview and 1.5 weeks after the second, I get an email from manager A saying that HR has notified him that another group is also pursuing hiring me. He wanted to know if I had interviewed with them and if I had a preference. I replied and said that I was leaning towards Division B, but I hadn't wanted to say anything until I had formal offers in hand.

This all left me feeling like I had not been fair and upfront with manager A, especially considering there was a good chance he was going to find out on his own anyway. How should I have proceeded? Should I have let the manager from Division A know as soon as I had the interview, or was I right to try to wait until I received a formal offer? Would it have been better that he heard from me and not HR?

UPDATE:

Manager A responded and said that the organization will only give an official offer from one division, so I unfortunately do have to make a decision before an offer is in hand. I don't think this affects the answers to the question, but it does add an interesting complication to the whole scenario.

  • Possible duplicate of Applying for 2 jobs with the same employer – gnat Jun 15 '17 at 10:11
  • @gnat Aside from this question being 2.5 years old, I don't believe your question is a duplicate. The question you link is asking whether it's appropriate to apply for multiple positions in the same company. I am asking, now that I am interviewing for multiple positions at the same large organization, how much information I should share with the two managers. – David K Jun 15 '17 at 12:00
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I feel your approach in this was extremely well-done. You were up-front with both managers after the interview. It also seems like you didn't present your continued searching in a way that made it feel aggressive or that they'd have to rush to consider you.

Both managers understood that you weren't desperate for a position and, if you were a good investment, they'd need to keep in contact. Whether or not Division A or B called on the end didn't matter since they were both presented the same argument.

I strongly feel you didn't deceive either of them because you said the criteria to stop your searching was a solidified, formal offer. Neither of them had locked in, and you probably have the upper-hand in this situation since they both know your stance that either Division could work with you.

In fact, I feel you may have come off in a bad light by calling each of them and saying "I'm in the hiring process with Division A/B." They may both, at that point, consider you hired in the other and potentially both could stop proceeding you further.

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    I agree, it sounds like you handled this very professionally. – Fiona - myaccessible.website Oct 1 '14 at 11:25
  • Thanks Xrylite, it sounds like I was over-thinking things. So you think the fact that these two positions are in the same organization is largely irrelevant? – David K Oct 1 '14 at 12:42
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    It's largely irrelevant. Interviewing in different places (regardless of whether they're the same place) is a two way process - you're trying to figure out if you want it, they're trying to figure out if they want you. Being upfront about other opportunities is fair enough, and they shouldn't hold a grudge. They might get a bit peeved if you accept their offer and change your mind later, but being upfront about wh – Sobrique Oct 1 '14 at 16:15
  • @DavidK As others have mentioned, it shouldn't be much different whether it was the same company or not. This scenario may help some because, whether you lock into A or B, you'll still have a positive connection to the other division due to both interviews going well. I don't see many downfalls off of what you've said so far =). – Xrylite Oct 1 '14 at 22:49
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Interviewing gets qualified as "looking". Getting an offer qualifies as "finding". Until you have an offer in hand, you haven't found anything.

Interviewing is like going to a car dealer and kicking the tires. Getting an offer is like - well, getting an offer from the dealer with the sales document and the car financing all lined up.

You have yet to get an offer from anyone and until you do, you haven't found anything. So you are still operating within the bounds of your agreement with the manager at company A.

  • Thanks Vietnhi, so you think the fact that these two positions are in the same organization is irrelevant? – David K Oct 1 '14 at 12:41
  • @DavidK Pretty much so. Even if you are applying for the same position in two divisions, the work context around each position is not the same. Let's say that you meet the qualifications in each case. You might be welcomed in one division because the manager there thinks your outlook makes you a good fit while you might be passed over in the second division because the manager there thinks you are not so good as a fit because of your same outlook. Also, the candidate pools for each division are obviously not identical. – Vietnhi Phuvan Oct 1 '14 at 12:54
  • @VietnhiPhuvan You're absolutely right. Each manager could see you very differently based on your personality connection with them, which goes beyond what you know. Different points-of-view and different understanding of who you are. Social skills are important, regardless of what job you're in. (+1'd to 20k+) – Xrylite Oct 1 '14 at 22:55

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