I am interviewing with firm A, and I informed them I received an offer from another firm B because firm B requires me to submit my decision soon, and I wanted to expedite the process with firm A. The recruiter for firm A asked who firm B is and when I must respond to B.

Both A and B are firms in the financial industry. I am concerned the recruiter from firm A may reach out to a recruiter from firm B. Also, I must submit my decision to firm B in approximately a week, and I am concerned it is not enough time for firm A to make a decision. How should I respond to the recruiter from firm A?

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    Say: "I have other offers, and I would rather not comment on whom they are with. I need to respond to them by date X. Thank you." – MrFox Nov 8 '12 at 15:47

Don't tell them (especially if they are a third-party recruiter) which company. It's not their business which offers you have to evaluate. Recruiters/hiring managers are used to candidates interviewing with and having offers for different companies.

Inform them politely, "I have received an offer from another firm and am required to let them know by 12/1/2012."

You could, depending on where in the interview process you are, ask if there is any way they can move the process faster. Something like "I would really like to consider an offer from Firm A as well. After my last interview, we were both optimistic - is there any opportunity we can help make this happen?" or something similar.

To address some of the comments about "why not to say" (to a company recruiter) -

  1. It is disrespectful to the other company to reveal information made in confidence. How would you feel if Firm B went around telling other companies they had made you an offer?

  2. Would you feel comfortable asking Firm A questions along the lines of, "how many candidates are you interviewing for this position?" or "have you made an offer for this position to another candidate?" (you may actually be comfortable asking these sorts of questions, and if so, imagine the feeling the HR people might have - probably "hm, well, this isn't really your business to know")

  3. This lessens your negotiating ability. If Firm A has no idea what Firm B is, they will not have any information about other offer is, and be forced to adjust their offer accordingly. You want to start negotiations on an offer from a perspective of mutual efforts to find an agreeable deal - this is harder when you add a known third party into the mix.

  4. Everyone involved is a business person. We - as job seekers - tend to make these things way more important than they really are. In all likelihood, if you respond similar to what I've or some of the other answers say, you will not even get any pushback, because the HR person probably will go "ok, didn't answer, oh well" if they even care that much. If they care and give you a harder time for not answering the question I would find that information valuable as well, as it shows that Firm A (or at least the HR people you are dealing with) do not fully respect your privacy in a way most companies will.

  • Do you think not informing the recruiter of the identity of firm B will affect me negatively? – idealistikz Nov 8 '12 at 0:09
  • I've heard this advice, but honestly never had anyone explain why it's a bad thing not to tell them the identify of the firm. If you refuse to tell them they are more likely to think you are bluffing and making the offer up. – DJClayworth Nov 8 '12 at 2:24
  • @DJClayworth, the only cogent excuse I've heard in it's defense is that giving such info to a recruiter gives them the heads up that a certain company is recruiting and they get to approach the company to offer their services as a result of your information. – kolossus Nov 8 '12 at 4:04
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    If the recruiter can't respect your desire to not reveal the name of the company then you don't want to work with them anyway. – 17 of 26 Nov 8 '12 at 14:22
  • @kolossus I don't see how that is bad for me in any way. – DJClayworth Nov 8 '12 at 14:23

I would respond with the following:

I prefer not to divulge the any of the details of the offer. It was was a confidential offer, presented to me by a different company, for a different position. I would treat any offer presented by you or your company with the same discretion.

I would not share any of the details beyond the date you will need to make a decision by. I would probably provide a date at least 24 hours prior to the actual deadline so that I have time to consider any other offers. If you decide to counter do not do so by saying that another company offered me X will you match it. Counter with if you can make offer me X I will accept.

The reason that I would respond in this way is primarily respect. Treating the companies offers this ways shows them that you respect them and that you respect yourself. You demonstrate your trustworthiness by not attempting to leverage offers against each other. By communicating that you will be making a decision by a certain date is often the motivating factor to get a recruiter giving your offer the priority.

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    Excellent suggestion @Chad, but did you have to shout it so loudly? Could I suggest using a ## or ### header rather than a # header for your quote, or even just a quote (>) section for it. – Mark Booth Nov 8 '12 at 15:31
  • I would probably provide a date at least 24 hours prior to the actual deadline so that I have time to consider any other offers. Isn't this lying to a potential future employer? You aren't suppose to lie during the interview process. – CincinnatiProgrammer Nov 8 '12 at 18:16
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    @PaulBrown - Telling them that you would need an offer by date x is not lying. So long as if the offer comes in after you ignore it... It is a two edged sword but so is sitting on an offer. An offer that is supposed to be good for a week can end up cancelled due to changing business needs the day you are supposed to start. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 8 '12 at 20:04

In my professional development classes from college I was told to never tell "firm A" which other companies had offered me a job. It is likely their next question will be something along the lines of "how much are they going to pay you?" in an effort to simply match that offer, which destroys your competitive advantage. I wouldn't risk telling firm A anything, the less they know the better off you are, and if they push the issue I would take it as a warning sign about firm A.

As enderland said in his answer, I would simply tell them that you have another offer and give them the date you need an answer by. Hopefully firm A will give you an offer before this date and you will have time to negotiate before making your choice.

  • Refusing to answer a question because the next question might be a bad one doesn't make sense to me. Wny not just refuse to answer the second question? – DJClayworth Nov 8 '12 at 19:31
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    Simply because you gain nothing from telling them what other offers you have. Negotiation is a sort of tug-of-war so you shouldn't give them anything that isn't need to know. What if, for example, they knew that the company you have an offer with tends to underpay their employees? That would undercut your negotiations unnecessarily. – CincinnatiProgrammer Nov 8 '12 at 19:48
  • That's the only scenario I can think of where silence makes sense. But if the company is known for overpaying, then it makes sense to tell. – DJClayworth Nov 8 '12 at 19:50

This is a good position to be in.

There are more benefits to telling firm A that you have an offer from firm B:

  • It makes you look more desirable.
  • You can negotiate a better deal with firm A.
  • If firm A contacts firm B, firm B will realize you are in demand - you can negotiate a better salary there.
  • You can play them against each other in a professional way: for example, in firm B I will be able to do this type of work, will I be able to do that at firm A?
  • Recruiters want to know how you appeal to other recruiters, so if you are confident about offer B and how recruiter B perceives you, them talking can build you up!
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    Should I tell firm A the identity of firm B? – idealistikz Nov 8 '12 at 2:14
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    If firm A contacts firm B and tell them that you are trying to leverage their offer to get a better offer at A your offer at B will disappear. There are no advantages that you do not have with not telling them the name of B if the offer from B is real. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 8 '12 at 14:36
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    @Chad Frankly I find that hard to believe. Firm A telling Firm B they are also considering making you an offer would increase your value in their eyes, no? And if they were prepared to play dirty tricks to get you, that would be even more so. – DJClayworth Nov 8 '12 at 19:47
  • Firm A is telling Firm B that you would rather work at Firm A. It does not look good. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 8 '12 at 20:02
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    Do you have examples? I find it hard to believe that Firm A would do that, since it conveys to Firm B that they are also interested in you, and might cause Firm B to raise their offer. Any attempt to 'smear' you by Firm A would be interpreted by Firm B as a trick to get them to drop out of the competition. The fact that you are 'considering' Firm A does not mean you would 'rather' work for them - and even if it were true that probably just makes you more desirable in the eyes of Firm B. – DJClayworth Nov 9 '12 at 16:22

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