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Recently, after doing some interviews, I received a very nice offer from one company (let's call them A).

One of the other places I interviewed at (B) had made very positive remarks following the interview, so I sent them an email to ask them if they had made a decision. In the email, I also notified them that I had an offer from a different company.

I am fairly confident that I will accept company A's offer, but I want to have as much information as I can before making a decision.

Company B said they were writing up an offer for me. They promised to send me the official offer in a few days, but in the meantime, they're asking me about my preferences around a few details such as the start date.

I don't want to reject their offer before seeing it, but it feels dishonest to discuss these details when I feel confident that I will accept company A's offer. Particularly, it feels to me as though I am in a negotiating stage with company B before they give me an official offer.

I am also still gathering a few last pieces of information from company A which might cause me to reconsider, so I want to emphasize that I am not merely trying to get information from company B for my ego's sake.

How should I proceed?

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I think you are overlooking something. You think they are asking you this because they will make a better offer, etc.

I don't think so.

Asking questions like this is a way to put you in the shoes of the guy accepting the offer (before even seeing it, it's brilliant!).

  • So, when do you want to start?
  • Which parking spot would you prefere?
  • Do you like a green chair or a blue one?
  • Do you want to sit next to Jane or Bob?

They don't really mind the answer, they want you to imagine working there. As you answer those questions, the more you will identify working in this environement.

So, yes, answer you avaibility, there is nothing dishonnest about it, but don't be fooled about the intent.

  • Based on the tone of their emails, they are definitely using this tactic. – nnn Nov 25 '16 at 15:42
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I would look at A's offer, consider what B would have to offer to out-bid A, and give that info to B. B will probably assume you're giving them what A actually offered. Just make sure you don't provide any info/benefit that is unique to A (one wouldn't want B to know who A is).

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If you're confident that you're going with A then get off the fence and focus on A.

If you're not confident, then carry on gathering information. But don't waste people's time, no one appreciates that.

Trying to run an auction might lead to offers being withdrawn. But if you're not worried about that then that's the only reason I can see for continuing.

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There is no problem with continuing the discussion if your chance of taking B's offer is low--as long as it is greater then zero.

Continuing this discussion implies that you are going to legitimately consider their offer. If you are not, then stop now. But as long as you would really consider working for them, you can keep going, even if they are a long shot. You are not misleading them.

The phrase "I am fairly confident" suggests your mind is not completely made up. If that is true, I would continue (as long as it doesn't jeopardize the offer you already have).

If B would have to overwhelm you with a great offer, then make your expectations clear upfront.

I agree with James Olson on this point. If you would only work there for salary X, a more senior position, etc., then tactfully communicate what you are looking for now. If it's unrealistic, then the negotiations can conclude early, you won't be using any more of their time, and you won't be delaying your response to A while waiting for their offer.

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Either you are open to considering B's offer or you aren't.

If you are, you should discuss anything that might sway your decision and there's nothing dishonest about it.

If you aren't, stop wasting everyone's time, accept A's offer and send your regrets to B. That, too, is "honest".

If you're jerking them around just out of curiosity to see what they will offer, despite having made your mind up, that is dishonest but the person you are hurting mst is yourself. Remember, the longer you delay in accepting A's offer, the higher the odds they will have hired someone else in the meantime.

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Why would you deny them the chance to make the best offer they can? If they can't make it interesting, that's on them. But how is it helpful to deny them the chance to know the market better? If they have asked reasonable questions, give them truthful answers. The only thing I would be careful of, is that you should give them details that would at least make you consider their offer.

To give an example, suppose A has a workout room with a pool, and you love swimming laps during lunch. Tell them what you'd want in order to consider their offer, not just what A is offering. They obviously aren't going to add a building and pool just for you, so they can't literally match the offer from A, what would you want to forego your laps?

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