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I had the interview process going on for about a month with co. 'A'. Meanwhile, I had a telephonic HR round with another bigger firm 'B', offering a much better opening on Monday. on Tuesday, 'A' made an offer and started pressurizing to accept it on Wednesday. Since I wanted to sit for the B as well, I ended up calling the HR at B and asked her for a time frame in which they could decide for further rounds. I mistakenly told B that I am asking this as I have another offer while I wanted to pursue the opening with 'B'.

Now, I am afraid that it might not go down well with 'B' as I explicitly mentioned I have another offer (though I found the HR at 'B' quite professional in her conduct).

Is that really a mistake to have mentioned receipt of another offer while asking for a timeframe? And does that send out a message to B that I need not be considered for next rounds as I already have an impending offer?

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    It has to be said, maybe company B wasn't still considering you or you might have gotten a better response when you told them you had another offer. – HLGEM Oct 30 '14 at 18:35
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Nothing wrong with mentioning to B that you have an offer from A and that A is putting on the thumbscrews to get you to say yes. That's the truth, isn't it? So tell the truth.

How B reacts to your news that A made you an offer depends on the tone of voice you used in telling the news, as well as what you subsequently said to B. If you used a "I am not interested in you anymore" tone of voice with B and what you said after the news is consistent with you losing interest in B - well, that's the message that B will act on.

The reason you want to mention A in the conversation is that, while you are not putting pressure on B, you want to make it clear to B that A is putting pressure on you and that you are feeling the pressure from A. Nothing wrong with saying that to B - it's the truth. So stick to the truth and don't complicate your life with extraneous considerations.

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    It's also in your best interest to have this out in the open. This entire thing ends one of three ways. Company A ultimately hires you, Company B ultimately hires you, Company A with draws their offer because you took to long waiting on company B then decides not to make an offer. By saying "Hey look, I've got a job over here, But I'd REALLY like to work for you guys" it'll help expedite things potentially speeding up the process with B, or if they weren't that interested, get them to cut you loose so you can accept A's offer without thinking "what if" – RualStorge Oct 31 '14 at 19:25
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I think it depends on a couple of factors:

  • your exact wording (which you haven't quoted)
  • your situation at B - how many other candidates there are, and how strong you look compared to others

Mentioning to HR that you have another offer should not be a problem in itself - every job seeker is looking for multiple options, just as well as every company is interviewing multiple candidates before hiring. And the better you are, the more options you have. So it might even increase your desirability, but certainly won't decrease it.

I think it is also OK to ask for a timeframe, you just need to be careful to avoid making the impression that you are pressurizing them for a decision. That would basically be the same trick as what HR at company A is playing with you when they say you need to decide about their offer by Wednesday. And since HR people all know this trick, most of them probably don't like it applied on them ;-) From what you describe, this may be interpreted by B in a bad way.

To make a decision, you need to rank your priorities. Is it more important for you to get a job fast, even if it is less than ideal, or are you looking for the best job you can get, even if it takes longer time to land in it? Assuming the latter, my suggestion is

  • Call back A and ask for more time to make a decision - you can even tell them straightforward that you have an upcoming interview with another company and you want to get the results before you commit yourself. That tells them you are not so easy to pressurize as you have at least one other option. If they insist on the Wednesday deadline, they probably don't really want you personally, only an easy hire who can be pressured to accept a less than ideal deal. If they really want you personally, they will probably be ready to wait for a few days.

    (Of course, the risk here is if they have another candidate who is almost on par with you, they may decide to switch to him/her. However, they already chose you, and reversing their decision would increase cognitive dissonance, which most of us strives to avoid. So - at least temporarily - you have an advantage over other applicants even if originally they perceived only a slight difference between your aptitudes.)

  • Call back B and correct your earlier miscommunication. E.g. tell them that you really find their offer more fascinating and better suited to your skills and future plans, but you are pressurized by this other company to make a decision on their offer, this is why you would like to speed up the interview process at B. If they find you interesting enough compared to the other candidates, they will adapt to your needs at least somewhat. If not, you will get an early rejection which solves your dilemma.

  • Dear Peter Thanks for such a detailed and early reply. While speaking again with co. 'B', I was very polite and requestful in my tone and wordings. But when she mentioned timeframe, I fell thoughtfully silent for a second, and thanked her afterwards. Would it be ok to send a mail reiterating my conviction in the opening with 'B'? more so because it is THE most ideal position in every way for me? – srijan Oct 30 '14 at 14:55
  • @srijan, so did they call you in for an interview? If so, I think it is enough to talk about this during the interview, as opportunity arises. Afterwards, depending on the outcome of the interview and your feelings, a follow-up letter might be useful (but overall, it won't make a big difference, so don't fret over it too much - the interview itself is much more important). – Péter Török Oct 30 '14 at 15:42
  • I disagree with the assumption that 'A' putting pressure on him to answer now is an indicator that 'A' didn't really want him personally. I've certainly put that pressure on people I really wanted in order to try and prevent them for waiting for another offer. – NotMe Oct 31 '14 at 21:26
  • @Chris, and did you also demand their answer by next day? To me it looks quite tight, that's why I felt it was pressuring the candidate too much. I certainly wouldn't be happy to get such a short deadline. – Péter Török Nov 2 '14 at 21:53
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I think it also depends on the type of hiring process. In my company, we rarely have pool of candidates for a given position from which we select 'the best'. Instead, we continue to interview candidates until we identify someone who we feel is a good enough candidate to make an offer to.

In this scenario, I appreciate knowing if candidates I'm interviewing have offers on the table from other companies. If the candidate is weak, then I'm happy to end the process and let them go to the other company. If the candidate is strong, I'm happy to try to accelerate our process to try to hire them.

  • Even in cases where you "pool candidates" (Basically keep looking until you find what you want, but do so in batches) this holds true. After a short chat an interviewer has at least a loose benchmark of where you stand. Am I excited to get you in my office, on the fence, probably not... Perhaps you're my leading candidate or perhaps your my third pick. All depending if I think I want to hire you I'll proceed if it's unlikely I'll cut you loose. (which is in your best interest as that's the most likely results had proceedings continued unless someone fails their drug test or something) – RualStorge Oct 31 '14 at 19:31

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