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I have two job offers that I need to respond to within 48 hours if I want the job. There is a third company that I allready had two job interviews with, but they didn't offer me a job yet. However, I would really like to know if they would offer me a job, because if they offer me the job next week, it would be too late because I will be forced to take one of the other two job offers.

I've heard that the best thing I could do is to call to the manager, and politely explain my situation. But I really don't want to mess it up, and would really love some advice on how a good telephone conversation would look like (like literally: what to say, no general guidelines). I think I should start by thanking for the interviews? However, that seems cheesy if my followup line is: "I would really like to work at your company, but I would like to know if I stand a chance because I allready have two job offers that I need to respond to in the next 48 hours".?

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    I was going to answer, but the request for a script is a bit difficult as I wasn't in the interview, you want to mention how interested you are in the role/company, why you feel you are the match, but also stress that you are now under time pressure, so you'll need a response by x as you need to give the other 2 a response. You need specifics here, a parrot script is not going to work. – The Wandering Dev Manager Mar 18 '15 at 10:53
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This can be a very straight forward and simple conversation:

"Hi Mr. Hiring Manager. I enjoyed interviewing with you and your team and I'm really interested in this position. However, I've also evaluated some other opportunities in parallel and at this time I have two offers on the table and I have to make decision on either one by (insert_actual_date).

I was wondering if you could share where you are in your thinking process. I'm really interested in working with you because (insert some actual reasons, that are factually correct and actually meaningful to the hiring manager), so I would like to pursue this. However, I have a bit of a timing problem here, so I'd appreciate if you could give me an update"

Some things to consider

  1. Be prepared to accept the answer. Could be anything from "good luck in your new job someplace else" to "we really like to get you in here". If it's the first, then you say "thank you" politely and move on. No harm no foul.
  2. You need a good reason. "I really like to see a third offer to make sure I'm not leaving any cash on the table" is not going to cut it. You are asking the hiring manager to do extra work and go out of process, so you need a credible story to motivate her
  3. Be prepared to answer the question "What would you need to see to sign on with us". You don't have a lot of time to do the negotiation dance, so you should have a clear picture in your mind what it would take for you to accept an offer. That's not just base salary, could be "70k/year, 3 weeks of PTO, and one day a week working from home because the commute is challenging"
  4. You should do this in "good faith", i.e. you thought this through and you would be willing to join company three if the offer is right.
  • Thanks for your solid advice and extra consideration points! – user3231622 Mar 18 '15 at 17:15
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I second @Mike's point, "There is a difference between accepting a job offer and starting a job."

Of course accepting a job and then rejecting it is not ideal, but you are not in a unique situation and it probably happens often enough to be understood and handled in the HR world. The larger the company, the higher the incidence of such events, and the less of a big deal it is.

Until you actually begin working, you don't owe anything to your prospective employer, and are entitled to change your mind. Life happens and businesses recognize this and treat it as a matter of fact, not take it personally. If someone does, it is their issue.

Think about it this way: what is worse for a business, someone accepting and then rejecting an offer prior to starting, or starting a job only to leave a couple months later after some overhead costs of time and resources have been invested in their on-ramping? From this standpoint, you are being proactive and acting in the company's best interest by changing your decision earlier than later.

As has been mentioned, this depends a little on how tight the industry is and whether "everyone knows everyone" or there is some flexibility and anonymity in this professional space, where a decision like this would be "contained" and you will be able to move on with your career growth without adverse impact. This is less of a concern if you are geographically mobile and/or are relocating for either of your jobs.

With this in mind, my suggestion would be to act in your own interest and hedge your bet by accepting one of the jobs with the shorter notice, but postponing the start date a little (maybe by 2 weeks) to buy time and find out the 3rd company's decision. If they don't offer you a position, nothing is lost; if they do, even better. Win-win.

One final consideration. If you accept and then reject an offer, the company HR dept might make a note of this in their system (assuming they have a system for tracking recruitment process and status for each candidate). If they retain this kind of historical data, this might be a slight disadvantage if in the future you decide to reapply for a similar position with this company, especially in the same department/organization. Here it is helpful to have a broader career outlook and realize that the world does not begin and end with a single company, in fact there is an enormous variety of firms and jobs and your options are only limited by the constraints you place on yourself (geographic, continuing education, etc.).

In the broad scope of things, this is probably not a major hurdle, or any hurdle at all. Even if you decide to come back to them later, having some kind of 'history' in their system does not necessarily mean that that door will be closed for you; it is also entirely possible that the management will be changed by then, and your past effort applying to this firm may be reframed as evidence of your interest in them. There are multiple ways to frame any issue.

Again, to restate the point: even though accepting and rejecting an offer might seem awkward to you, managers don't have time to dwell on such issues. Good luck!

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"because if they offer me the job next week, it would be too late because I will be forced to take one of the other two job offers."

There is a difference between accepting a job offer and starting a job. Why would you be forced to take one of the other two?

There are plenty of posts on here relating to accepting a job offer and then subsequently accepting another and letting the first company down (not ideal admittedly, especially in a small/incestious industry). Make sure you are not creating a time pressure that doesn't have to exist.

I would drop the manager an email thanking him for the interviews and just ask if there is a date for a decision to be made as you are looking to plan your diary for the coming months

  • You are right, I'm not forced to do anything. However I need a job, and it would be too risky to let down two job offers, and hoping the third company will eventually offer me a job – user3231622 Mar 18 '15 at 11:30
  • You need to add the timescales of the two offers on the table plus your circumstances. Are you currently unemployed? Do the two job offers start IMMEDIATELY? If the third offers the job after you've started, then yes, maybe too late and very risky. Until that point, not quite the same scenario – Mike Mar 18 '15 at 11:40

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