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So I am in Michigan USA and I had an interview last week with a big company and another interview today with a small company. I liked the small company: Educated team, experienced team and a nicer area.

The offer from the big company, if I got the job, would be limited to a 3 months internship and literally said that there won't be a chance for a renewal (Maybe they need to evaluate me first?). The interview went fine and they told me to wait for their decision this week.

The offer from the small company, if I got the job, would be a full time direct hire. The interview went more than fine and they were like "Give us couple weeks or maybe this week to discuss the matter and we will get back to you" but then asked me if I have done or doing interviews with any other companies and I said yes and that I am waiting for their response (I think I should have said no). Small company knows the name of the big company, and then they were like "Get back to us once you hear from CompanyX and we will see what we can do".

I want the small company but I don't want them to know about the other offer, as I think it might interfere with the new offer negatively.

I am planning to just wait, and if I got an offer from the big company what do I tell them? And what do I tell the small company? What if I did not hear back from the big company, and was asked about it by the small company?

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    I feel as if they are trying to feel out what you are worth, they want to know what "big company" will pay for your skills. That way they know that they aren't overpaying (or low-balling). I would tell them you have an offer but you aren't at liberty to disclose it. There is nothing requiring you to share your offer details (or even that you have an offer) with another company. – Ron Beyer Nov 8 '16 at 2:12
  • I should not have told them that I had another interview, lesson learned. SI will edit the Q to ask my question in a better way. Thanks – Sandra K Nov 8 '16 at 2:15
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    Why the downvote? – Sandra K Nov 8 '16 at 2:40
  • Get back to us once you hear from CompanyX and we will see what we can do - just interpret this to mean "Get back to us in a week or two and we will see what we can do". From now on just steer any discussion of the other company's offer away from that topic and focus on the fact that you want to work for the small company. – Brandin Nov 8 '16 at 10:29
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I am planning to just wait, and if I got an offer from the big company what do I tell them? And what do I tell the small company? What if I did not hear back from the big company, and was asked about it by the small company?

The small company is signalling that they don't want to play negotiation games with you, the big company, and themselves.

They want you to get the offer from the big company and tell them what you were offered. Then they will tailor their offer so that you will accept it without a series of back and forth negotiations, with the bigger company having the upper hand. Many companies prefer not to have their offer just used as a bargaining chip with another company.

Most likely the smaller company doesn't know the bigger company is not offering long-term employment. That works in your favor.

When and if you get an offer from the big company, tell the small company that you got the offer and for how much. At that point, you'll get an offer from the small company that you can consider.

As others have said, don't stop interviewing elsewhere. You have interest from two companies, but you don't actually have any offers quite yet.

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    "Many companies prefer to have their offer just used as a bargaining chip " - that sounds strang. Did you mean "Many companies don't prefer..." ? – sleske Nov 8 '16 at 12:17
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I would just tell them that I would prefer to work for them. And I'd keep job hunting. So far you don't have an offer from anyone.

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I would get back to them and clarify that you want to work for them.

The most likely explanation of their response, in my opinion, is that they assumed you will not make a decision until you hear from the other company. You did, after all, say you were waiting for the response. So they figured you want to find out about the other offer before making a decision.

If you call back and say you prefer to work for them, they may make you an offer immediately.

Your handling of this wasn't so bad.

...then asked me if I have done or doing interviews with any other companies and I said yes and that I am waiting for their response (I think I should have said no).

It would have been better not to disclose the details of your other interview, but there is nothing wrong with admitting you are interviewing with other companies. In fact it is better, because:

  • It's the truth, and lying is bad. To me this is a moral issue. But even if you don't care about that, saying "no" you are not interviewing elsewhere, when you actually are, puts you in a bad position. Because later on in the process you may want to tell a company you have a competing offer.
  • You are in a better position if they know you have multiple options, and they may have to compete for your services.

In the future, I would just say yes, you are considering other options, but then decline to give any details if they ask. But telling them the details in this case, probably won't harm you any in the long run.

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It seems like the smaller company wants to see what the bigger company is going to throw on the table. But here's your advantage - they aren't actually communicating with each other. Instead of being at the tail of the whip, why don't you use this situation, and bluff a bit? It's like poker! Play the game a little. You really want to work for the smaller company. Let's say you've already established you're looking for $X on your application with the smaller one - and you tell them the bigger company is paying just a little over that, but you really prefer their situation. You'll probably get what you asked for initially, because the smaller firm has already indicated that they're willing to make their offer in response to the larger company's offer. They'll feel great that they wooed you away from the other place.

Don't get greedy. But it's leverage to get what you're worth.

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