A bird in the hand or two in the bush? How to manage multiple applications

This morning I made a job offer to a candidate after a single interview, a good offer that matched the...

Andy Bristow
Andy Bristow
5 min read Reading Time
5 April 2018 Date Created

This morning I made a job offer to a candidate after a single interview, a good offer that matched the expectations of the candidate.  However, as I’m writing this I don’t know if the candidate is going to take it, my clients decisiveness has put the candidate in a position where he needs to commit, but what about the other interviews he’s got lined up?

More on that later but regardless of how this specific scenario pans out it has been useful in highlighting a topic that I suspect has been an issue that has cropped up for candidates every now and again:  what do you do if you are offered a job when you’ve got several other options on the table that may or may not be suitable?

The advice I give clients is always that the quicker you can turn an interview process around the greater your chances of securing your first choice candidate; however as with all things people based there are never any guarantees.

On receiving a quick offer I’ve known candidates tie themselves in knots worrying about the impact of not immediately accepting an offer and it can be a real source of stress.  The normal worries are:

  • If I don’t accept immediately will that be interpreted as negative and reflect badly on me?
  • Will they withdraw an offer and go with someone else?
  • Am I being unreasonable by asking for extra time to conclude other interviews?

Recruiters can compound this sometimes, piling on the pressure to secure a result for their client.

This all feeds back into a “dream job” narrative where you find your ideal role and everyone lives happily ever after.  Maybe, in the 1960’s.  The modern reality is that you might expect to be with your next employer for 2-5 years in which time you will be looking to build the skills necessary to enable you to take the next stage of your career.  In an era where by the time most people hit their 30’s they will have either experienced or had a near miss with redundancy I’m surprised that anyone approaches the job seeking  process with anything other than cold hard logic and balanced consideration and I’d expect the same of hirers.

For me it is perfectly clear that someone may take some time to make sure that they are making the right decision and if that means waiting a few days for an acceptance then all the better, at least then I know they are 100% committed to the role.  I find that hirers, whilst they would obviously love an immediate acceptance, broadly understand that their desired candidate is likely to be equally desirable to other employers and as such it makes sense for the candidate to fully understand their options, the key is to be open about the intentions and thought process and if ultimately a candidate chooses to go elsewhere then so be it, the job and company obviously wasn’t right for them.

In my role I’ll advise candidates as to what I feel is a reasonable delay and make a judgement call with my clients based on their intentions.  What is the longest I would wait for an offer to be accepted? Assuming that an offer is acceptable in principle then I would say 2-3 days at most, that would give any other potential parties a chance to conclude their interview process and make an offer.  If they can’t do it in that timescale then I’d encourage the candidate to write them off as not sufficiently committed to them or geared up to make things happen, either way that should be a concern.  If candidate chose to wait longer, well that’s basically an answer in its own right and I’d tell my client as much, leaving it up to them to decide how long they will wait.

Of course this is all open to debate and discussion, I’m simply outlining how I approach it and in my capacity as a representative of a hirer I will advocate for my client as much as the next recruiter, however this has to be weighed against the possibility of shoehorning in a placement that is destined to ultimately fail.  I know what sort of conversation I would prefer to have (clue: it’s not the one where an unhappy client calls 3-6 months later)

The key, as with most things recruitment related, is effective and honest communication.  If you are lucky enough to have plenty of choice then, whilst it may sound trite, if you conduct yourself with integrity and be fair with everyone then you will typically have a good outcome.

* The candidate went to his interview and called shortly afterwards to accept our clients offer