How to Handle an Offer and Upcoming Interview Dilemma

Congratulations! If you’re getting multiple job interviews, that means you’ve surpassed considerable competition! However, things can feel complicated and confusing if you receive an offer while waiting for an upcoming interview for a position and company you want more. It’s a very personal and ethical decision with various considerations.

Having an immediate offer secures your employment. Unless you’ve met the people from the following interview, you cannot know if you or they are a fit or if the interview will result in an offer. You could lose both, so you must tread carefully. Weigh out the options below.

Request more time to decide on the offer

This is an ethical and professional approach. You could explain to the first company, without going into too much detail, that you need more time to make an informed decision due to personal considerations. This transparency doesn’t guarantee the company will wait, but it does show respect for the offer and the employer. Depending on when the following interview is, it could give you some leeway to attend it. Could you arrange an earlier interview?

Accept the offer (with the intent to decline if necessary)

While it’s true that reneging on an offer after accepting it is generally considered poor form, the job market can be unpredictable and competitive. The key here is transparency and timing. If you take the first offer, it would be wise to do so while continuing the interview process with the other company. However, suppose you receive a better offer from the second company and decide to take it. In that case, you need to notify the first company as soon as possible. While this decision isn’t the most ethical route, it can be a pragmatic approach, given the circumstances. Communicating honestly and promptly is essential to minimize inconvenience and bridge burning.

Decline the first offer pre-emptively

Declining an offer before having another one in hand is risky and generally only advisable if you are financially secure enough to endure continued unemployment should the second opportunity not pan out. This approach respects the first company’s time and resources but at a potentially high cost.

Accept the first offer and stop the job search

This is the safest, most risk-averse option. You would accept the first offer and cancel the following interview. This decision is based on security rather than pursuing the ideal job. Ethically and professionally, it’s the least complex option, but it may leave you wondering, “What if?”

Career Coach | Handle Job Interviews and Job Offers

Here are some strategies to navigate this situation ethically:

Be honest and transparent:

Be as transparent as possible with both companies within professional boundaries. You don’t need to disclose all the details, but you should openly communicate any delays or concerns.

Consider the timing:

If the timeline allows, attending the following interview before the first offer’s decision deadline would be ideal. If not, ask for an extension on the decision.

Communicate professionally:

Whatever decision you make, it’s crucial to communicate it professionally. If you accept an offer and later want to retract it, you must do so respectfully, acknowledging the inconvenience to the employer.

In all cases, it is vital to weigh ethical considerations against practical realities. The job search process is inherently personal and complex, and sometimes, the ideal ethical choice is not entirely clear-cut or feasible. Choose the option that best aligns with your values, current situation, and long-term career goals.


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