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The director of the department messaged me a day after I had a 7 hour onsite interview with the following:

Most likely give you an offer, but can't say until [specified date].

I know this is a bit vapid, but can I count this as an unofficial job offer? Or should I keep pushing for other jobs (this is my number 1 choice)? I hate interviewing.

Edit: Thanks all.. they ended up calling me early and gave me a great offer. You guys eased my mind quite a bit.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – enderland May 12 '17 at 19:50

10 Answers 10

162

It's good reason to smile, but not much more.

You shouldn't stop searching for a job until you've accepted a written offer with no contingencies.

A lot can happen between now and when (if?) you get that offer. They might hire someone else, they might cancel the opening, etc.

  • 14
    Or the director might get fired for breaching process – Jocie May 10 '17 at 16:05
  • 10
    Or you could wind up with two or more offers that you can negotiate between and possibly play off one another. – MattD May 10 '17 at 18:25
  • Yippee! They like you. You can celebrate that. But it seems they may like someone else better. Can't be helped. Keep calm and carry on. – RedSonja May 11 '17 at 6:27
65

Everyone hates interviewing, on both sides of the desk. (There may be some rare exceptions to this rule, but trust me, they are rare.) So it's really tempting to cancel all your other interviews and stop applying. But don't.

Sure, sure, because (downer, bummer, pessimist) you might not get this offer and you might still need these other jobs.

But really because these are free interviews with nothing to lose at a time when you have demonstrated that you are really good at spotting jobs you're qualified for, applying to them, getting chosen for an interview, and doing well enough at the interview to cause a director to believe you should get an offer! It's rare that any of us can walk into situations knowing we're good at them. In fact, that's what most of hate about interviews: we worry we're not going to do well at all. But you already know that you did great at least once! And what's more, if you mess up this interview, it probably doesn't matter, because you're probably getting an offer. So you have nothing to lose! Go to your interviews. Enjoy them. Observe how they work. Notice when you are doing it right (you'll have more processing power for this, because you won't be worrying if you're going to get an offer or not.)

What might happen? Well, maybe none of your upcoming interviews are a great fit and they don't make you an offer but this current one does. Great! That's the same as if you cancelled those other interviews, but you had a little less leisure time because you went to them. Ideally you learned from them more than enough to justify the time. Or, possibly everyone makes you an offer and you have a choice to make. That's a great problem to have. Or, possibly the current offer never materializes, but one of these other ones does, and you can pat yourself on the back for having hung in there just in case. I suppose it's also possible that everything falls through, and you have no offers, but at least in that (super unlikely; you've already aced an interview) case, you'll know you did all you could and didn't commit hubris by cancelling the interviews you had scheduled, or stopping applying to likely-looking jobs.

  • 1
    I was going to comment on the use of time, but then i re-read the last paragraph and it was almost the same thing. The last line about hubris is also important during the other interviews too: Don't get cocky. – Mindwin May 10 '17 at 15:22
  • And if more than one place makes you an offer, then you're in a much better negotiating position for any and all of the offers. It can give you leverage for salary, benefits, etc.. – Bemisawa May 10 '17 at 17:38
  • @Kate do you think there is anything to gained by putting some pressure back on the director, e.g. "is there any chance you could expedite making me an offer ASAP, since another company is also going to make me an offer in the next couple of days, but this is my first preference" – vikingsteve May 10 '17 at 18:17
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    We've had that question here before. Never pressure because you think someone else will make an offer. But when you get another offer, let him know. workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/34004/… – Kate Gregory May 10 '17 at 18:18
53

My understanding of the message is the following:

You are our best candidate so far, but we are still looking.

  • 5
    (...) And so should OP still continue to look around. – Mindwin May 10 '17 at 15:23
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    This is the first one liner type answer that is actually the right answer that I have seen. – Mister Positive May 10 '17 at 17:25
  • I would say the meaning is, "You meet the minimum requirements to be hired. We are interviewing other candidates." – Tony Ennis May 11 '17 at 21:17
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    @MisterPositive Then you haven't seen too many of Kilisi's answers or Joe Strazzere's comments. :) – Masked Man May 12 '17 at 17:25
30

The Director's response is 100% empty.

He's hedging his bets. He's trying to keep you on the hook until he completes his other interviews. That is, he is trying to prevent you from accepting other jobs in the mean time. If he finds someone he likes more, he'll forget you immediately.

Continue interviewing.

  • 2
    I think it's a somewhat common strategy but I don't get it. You're just as likely to find the best person first as you are to find them last and chances are they'll have found something else before you make up your mind. A candidate either meets your criteria or they don't. – Michael May 10 '17 at 16:35
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    @Michael Sometimes they'll have several interviews lined up and scheduled. And even though the first applicant may be good, the 2nd one might be great. As long as they don't stretch out the process too long they probably won't come up short. – Tony Ennis May 10 '17 at 21:40
14

From the Director's point of view, he seems to be thinking "This one seems to be the best, let's run interviews for another couple of weeks to see if we can get someone better"

If you have the motivation it's best to keep applying. But if it's too much, you can drop other searches, and it'll be a nice rest. Depends on your priorities.

Why keep applying? Because if you get two offers, you can tell one of them "I've been offered X salary somewhere else"—so they need to either match or beat it. It lets you negotiate more boldly, because you aren't so desperate to keep the job.

5

It is certainly about as strong as it can get without being for sure.

That date is probably not under his control. You qualify for the position in his mind. Someone more qualified might come up.

If you get another offer before that date you can most likely stall until that date. I think you should keep on interviewing even if you hate it.

If you cannot stall definitely tell the director you have another offer.

5

If I were you, I'd use this as a confidence boost, but won't stop applying/interviewing.

Few months back, I was job searching. After two months, a great job (almost) materialized. The manager was aware that I had other interviews, and two other offers on the table already, but this job was my first choice. A week after my 7 hour on-site interview, the manager told me that he is working through the paperwork, and that I shouldn't accept any other offers. I took this as an unofficial confirmation and was extremely excited.

Another week passed by, I still managed to keep the other offers on the table. At the end of about two weeks, I finally pushed the manager and told him that by end of day, either he can give me an offer, or I will accept another job. He called me back in an hour to let me know that I should move on with other opportunities.

Later I found out that he wanted to offer the job to me but there was a massive restructuring in the team and the job had been cancelled.

P.S. This might be of some help: Hiring manager asked me not to accept other offers but isn't extending a verbal confirmation, let alone a formal offer

4

Upon reading this my first thought is 'Oh, it needs to get approval from someone further up the chain' and judging from the fact they bothered to inform you, that approval is probably a 'rubber stamp' (i.e. the outcome is already known the proper channels must be followed)

Or alternatively, they definitely want you for the job but they MUST keep the interviews or whatever open until a certain date to follow a certain policy or protocol.

You will find these things happen often in Government where certain procedures must be followed but everyone already knows what the outcome will be.

I disagree with the other answers here are saying they like you but want to interview other people just in case they find someone better. If that were the case they would not have bothered contacting you at all. By bothering to contact you they are saying 'Barring some unforseen event, you have the job', 'unforseen' meaning an unusual or unexpected reason such as the higher up boss suddenly deciding everyone they hire from now on must have a phd, or whatever, not just that somebody better came along.

All that said - be happy, you are clearly valued, but never count your chickens until they hatch and you have an offer contingent on nothing (except for maybe contingent on a police check or whatever when you know you'll be fine there. But even then, there's nothing like that feeling when you're finally completely in!)

  • 1
    I like this answer. This is they made me do the interviews and I want to hire you but they don't give me final say and my boss is on vacation until <date> so I can't make a promise. If they want to interview other people they won't tease you with we'll probably make you an offer. – briantist May 11 '17 at 19:48
2

Keep interviewing, but go into the interview knowing that at least one company values you.

It makes such a difference to do this, as I've had it happen to myself, and ended up taking a job with a different company, to the one who 'unofficially' told me I'd got a job.

  • 1
    This is a really important point. Even a tentative offer can help you believe in yourself - knowing that you are a winner can change your whole demeanor: more relaxed, confident, prepared to engage creatively. – SusanW May 11 '17 at 9:33
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This could mean that they think that you are the only one that is qualified enough or that they like enough out of the candidates that they've seen so far, and possibly out of all of the candidates they have left to interview (because they have all the resumes of the people they still have to interview), but they can't extend you a formal offer until the interviews that are already scheduled are over. And this is what I think it is.

Three points for celebrating early:

  1. They know that they want you, so that will taint all of the remaining interviews with an attitude of "this is just a formality that we have to do, even though we've already made up our minds".
  2. The director is (apparently) in your corner, so if someone were to suggest that they like someone else who interviews after you, he will probably swing them back to you.
  3. Interviewing sucks.

Celebrate away!

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