Whether you’re managing one offer or multiple offers, it’s important to understand the process and potential pitfalls so you can start your internship or job in the most positive light.
Additionally, it’s crucial to avoid burning bridges and begin your career in the most professional manner.
There are usually four loosely overlapping phases to an internship or job offer: pre-offer, offer response, possible extension and final decision.
The following describes the most frequently asked questions for each stages. Each situation is different, however, so see your career advisor for individual guidance.
Q: When should I follow up if I have not heard back from the company after an interview?
A: At the end of your interview, you should have asked for the company’s decision timeline. If the company has not contacted you by the time indicated, do not assume the firm is not interested. Allow an extra day or two and reach out to show you are still interested.
“Hello. This is Jane Doe. I interviewed on May 1 for the marketing assistant position #44567. I am calling to reaffirm my interest in this role, and I look forward to hearing from you about potentially working in the Customer Analysis Department at your company. I can be reached at 716-555-2222. Thank you.”
If you do not hear back, but feel you did exceptionally in the interview and are still interested, try again in another week.
Q: When can I expect an offer?
A: Students often think recruiters have a lot of flexibility regarding how and when they make offers. This is not always the case. The timing of your offer depends on company guidelines, how quickly the position needs to be filled, how many openings there are, how many candidates there are, how many managers need to weigh in on the decision, etc.
Q: How many interviews will I have for one position?
A: Usually two to four interviews for each full-time role and one to two for internships, but it varies based on the company culture, demand and other conditions listed above. The record number of interviews for one position recorded at the CRC was 18.
Q: How will I receive an offer?
A: An offer could come in person, by telephone or in writing via email or mail. Often, the company will correspond via telephone or in person to inform you that a formal offer will be coming for you to sign and return. In this case, the employer might expect you to verbally accept or decline while you are on the telephone. If you are not ready to decide, you will need to professionally stall (see example below).
Practice scenarios before your interviews. You may receive an offer on the spot and, if you’re not prepared, you’re more likely to react in a way that negatively impacts your ability to manage the offer moving forward. For instance, some students who are not expecting to get an on-the-spot offer are so surprised and excited that they verbally accept the offer. However, they have interviews with other companies lined up and are now in an awkward situation.
Q: What is the best way to respond to the employer when I receive a verbal offer?
A: Congratulations on your offer! A response like this is best: “Thank you for the offer. I am very excited about this opportunity. When should I expect [or Should I expect] an offer letter, and when would you like my formal decision?”
Now here is why you are not answering yet. You are not being demanding by telling the employer when you plan to give an answer. If you’re expecting other offers to come in, this may buy you enough time without even having to mention that you are playing the waiting game.
Q: How do I respond to a written offer?
A: In most cases, the employer expects you to sign some portion of this letter and send it back. When you are ready, you are welcome to use the fax machine in the Career Resource Center to do so. If there was no decision time frame given on the letter, you still must respond quickly via email or telephone to affirm receipt of the offer and gauge a decision time frame.
Q: If I accept the offer, can I still interview elsewhere?
A: No! Even if you accept the position only verbally, you have formally accepted the offer and you are “off the market.” We hear from students, “But I did not sign anything yet.” That doesn’t matter to the employer, and they are most likely contacting their second-choice candidates to let them down, starting the clearance process and/or beginning to allocate resources to your role. They are spending time, effort and money on you. If you renege (go back on your promise), you are not only making yourself look unprofessional, but you are giving your school a bad name. Some companies have decided to no longer recruit from specific schools because a candidate reneged on them. They believed that one candidate’s behavior was less than ethical and assumed all candidates from that school must behave similarly. Therefore, if fewer companies recruit from your alma mater, the value of your degree decreases. Your individual actions hurt your entire school as well as yourself. This is why we want to help you manage your offers wisely from the beginning.
Q: What if I need more time?
A: There may come a time when the company who offered you a job first expects to hear your answer before you know if you have an offer with a second (or third) company. In this situation, it is best to ask for more time as soon as you know you will need it. Don’t play games with recruiters. Keep in mind that companies will grant an extension based on what they feel is reasonable. The standard will vary based on demand for candidates. For example, a high-demand company who only gave you 24 hours for your decision initially is not very likely to consider an extension request of two weeks. However, the firm may consider a few day extension to be reasonable. As a rule of thumb, the more time the company gives, the more it may be willing to extend. Remember, only ask for one extension. You should be managing the situation correctly so you only need one extension. If you ask for more, the company may get too aggravated with you.
An example of how to ask for more time is: “I am very interested in the position you have offered me. However, I am in final interviewing stages with another company. For me to ensure that I am making the right decision for myself, my family and the company, I feel I need to see the entire process through. May I have until the completion of that interview process to make my final decision? My final interview is scheduled for this Friday and I hope to hear back by the end of the following week.”
Keep in mind that avoiding the employer by not taking a recruiter’s call or responding to emails is not an appropriate method of delaying your decision. The company can retract your offer if the employer considers your failure to communicate as a lack of interest in the offer.
Q: If I am still interviewing with other firms when I get an offer, what do I do?
A: Firms expect competition for strong candidates, so engage in appropriate disclosure. It may or may not be considered appropriate to reveal the name of the other firm. It depends on rapport you have with each recruiter; each situation will be different. It might be considered rude in some cases and might bolster your candidacy in other cases. Your CRC advisor can help you navigate that.
The timing of your interviews may not line up well. You may need to inform one company that you are close to an offer (or have an offer) to move up an interview date. It may be difficult for the company to arrange that. You may even be forced to make a decision to accept or decline the first offer regardless of any future opportunities. If you accept, you then inform the other employer(s) you are no longer planning to interview there. If you reject the first offer, you do so not knowing if your interviews with other firms will yield an offer.
Q: When should I tell an employer about my decision?
A: Notify the company as soon as you make your decision, whether you accept or reject and even if you made your decision prior to end of the decision time frame. Students sometimes make decisions in their own minds but don’t communicate it to anyone, especially if they are rejecting. Think about your friends and classmates; they could be alternates and lose the opportunity if you drag your feet on notifying the firm of your rejection.
We do not recommend that you accept on the spot. Most companies will grant at least 24 hours to think it over and discuss it with your family.
Q: How should I accept?
A: When you accept, clearly verbalize what you accepting. For example, “Mr. Smith, I accept the position of product manager at the 62K starting salary. I look forward to starting on June 30. I understand my compensation package will include relocation, life, health and dental insurance, as well as 401k.
Q: What if I have an offer, but it is not from my first-choice option?
A: If you are still waiting to hear from your first-choice employer, call that company to share that you have a competing offer. Do not be worried that by telling the company you have another offer you are giving them a reason to not hire you. In fact, you now become even more attractive to the first-choice employer. Your goal is to get that employer to make their decision sooner. For example, you might say, “I have just received an offer from another company, but I am very interested in working for you in XYZ role. I need to inform this other company of my decision within two days. Can you tell me when I could expect a decision from your team?” As described above, you may be able to negotiate for more time from the other company if needed.
Remember to collaborate with your career advisor in the CRC as each situation is different. Your ability to manage this situation will reflect on you as a professional as you begin your career with your new employer. It is important to start your working relationship in a positive way.
Jill Whalen Helms, BS ‘04, EMBA ’12, Sr. Vice President of Human Resources at Aleron presents the employers’ perspective and expectations on the offer phase and negotiation phase of the job offer and shares best practices. Additionally, Jill will explain how to understand benefits that are typically offered in your professional job.