You Got an Offer While Waiting to Hear Back From Your Top Choice Company — Now What?

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Anne Matsushita197
April 16, 2024 at 10:17AM UTC

Have you ever been in that nice position of interviewing with multiple companies? How about the more difficult position of receiving an offer while you’re still interviewing with another company you like better? Well, don’t feel guilty for talking to more than one company. A company is talking with more than one candidate. It’s appropriate for you to do your due diligence too. As a Career Coach, I’ve worked with clients who have handled this situation in different ways.

Try to stall.

If you receive an offer (Company A) but you’re leaning towards another company (Company B), you can try to buy time with Company A. You may get up to a week to “crunch the numbers” or “talk it over with my family.”

In the meantime, you can tell Company B you recently received an offer - or you’re close to receiving one if that’s the case - and you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do to expedite their interview process since they’re your preferred company. Most job seekers are applying to multiple companies, so Company B shouldn’t be surprised you have an offer on the table. I’ve seen this work the majority of the time, usually because a company doesn’t want to lose a great candidate, and potentially to a competitor. It’s up to you if you’d like to share details on your offer but you don’t have to.

Decline the offer.

You can also choose to turn down Company A’s offer. Some of my clients will take interviews for the practice and to expand their network but if the role isn't the right fit, they’ll hold out for one that’s more in line with their goals. Of course, everyone’s situation is different so depending on where income and benefits fall on your list of priorities, this may not make sense.

Accept the offer.

As another option, you can accept Company A’s offer and turn it down after you receive and accept Company B’s offer. Having done this myself, and from my clients’ experiences, I realize it can be uncomfortable. At the same time, you owe it to yourself to explore your options. I also haven't seen a company have a negative reaction towards the person. If anything, companies say things like “I’m sorry you won’t be joining our team, please let us know if anything changes, we’d love to have you back.”

From my previous experience in HR, when employees have resigned after one week or even after one day, it’s a bummer but it’s not the end of the world. Because someone is leaving so early, they are probably still being trained - it’s not like they’re walking away with years of historical knowledge. Also, the company wants someone who’s interested in being there 100%. If that’s not you, that’s okay! The company will find someone else and can often ask their second choice candidate if they’re still interested and available.  

Lessons Learned

One of my clients was interviewing with two companies at the same time and both were going well. He received one offer and felt confident a second offer from his top choice company was coming. He decided to turn down the first offer, not wanting to string them along. He then received an offer from the other company, which he happily accepted, only to have it taken back. One of his references didn’t give a positive recommendation, which he wasn’t counting on. He was understandably shocked and upset about having to start his job search again. He wished he had accepted the first offer to have a backup.

Another client was interviewing with 3 companies simultaneously. She accepted the first offer she received, worried she may not receive any others. A few weeks later, her dream company (one she had been interviewing with) made an offer. Surprisingly, she turned them down, feeling she needed to be loyal to the first company that came through with an offer. Shortly after, she decided she really wanted to work at her dream company. Unfortunately, she saw on LinkedIn that the role had been filled. Her big regret was not following her gut by accepting the role from her top choice company and resigning from the first company.

At the end of the day, you can’t control how Company A may react. However, if they thought enough of you to extend an offer, they’ll probably want the best for you and support your decision.

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

After 12+ years of progressive HR experience in the entertainment and education industries, Anne pivoted to a Career Coach opportunity with Randstad RiseSmart. She’s passionate about crafting customized job search strategies for diverse clients and helping them navigate emotional highs and lows. She’s thrilled to see clients land at Dish Network, KCBS, LinkedIn, Mattel, Salesforce, Workday, etc. and negotiate additional double-digit compensation. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.

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