It is not uncommon for top candidates to receive multiple offers at once or receive one offer while still in the interview process with other companies.

I asked our career counselors the following question:

If a student were in the interview process with a company and they were interviewing with other companies, what is the best way for them to tell the other companies that they received an offer? 

Megan Bauml, Assistant Director for Career Counseling and Counselor for PPA & MS Accountancy sees this scenario frequently. She would advise a student this way:

I would go to the company (preferably over the phone) and say “I wanted to let you know that I’m very interested in your company and am excited about the opportunity to (visit the office, have a second interview, etc). I do have an offer on the table from another organization with a due date of XXXX, but I feel like your firm might be a better fit for me. Specifically, I like XXXX, YYY, and ZZZZ about your organization.  I don’t know if there is a way to expedite the interview process, but I would like the opportunity to do so if possible.”  

Hayden Duplechain, Former Career Development Specialist for Management and Supply Chain BBAs and current recruiter for FORVIS agrees and emphasizes that tone is very important.

I always tell them to reiterate interested in the company and working there, however they have received an offer and that they were hoping to get an answer soon.  Then ask what the timeline was for making a decision. In my opinion, it’s all about the phrasing and making sure it’s not a “you better hurry” but rather “this is my situation”. 

Kelly Collins, Senior Director of Graduate and Alumni Career Services said:

What Megan said is spot on to how we advise [graduate] students!  If I were to add anything it would be:  Transparency is key to a situation like this.  At the end of the day, recruiters are human like you and me and appreciate understanding the situation you are in.  Be honest, show your enthusiasm, and be ready to have to make a tough decision.  Companies are not always able to make adjustments to their recruiting timelines but it is important to feel confident enough to ask. 

On the recruiting side, I asked Mike Radice, Head of Corporate Recruiting for Toptal the same question. Mike said:

I’m a firm believer that when you’re delivering something that could be taken as bad news, it’s best to be brief; polite, but direct and to the point. Something as simple as “Hi Mr. Recruiter, I’ve enjoyed the conversations with XXXXX company and you remain my top choice of my future employer. I want to be transparent with you and let you know that I have received another offer; they have asked to have my answer in 7 days. I’m still very interested in continuing the process with your company, but I now have a bit of a time constraint on my end. Please let me know the best way to proceed.”

As with any interaction, a phone call is far more personal than an email, so whenever possible that should be a conversation as opposed to a note. All of that said, this should never come as a surprise to a company. The candidate should let their top choice know where things stand during every interaction they have.

Mark Broadfoot, Global Recruitment Manager at Advisian offered this comment:

Being upfront and honest is the best thing a student can ever be.  I would say to send an email to the recruiter & interviewer letting them know they have received an offer (and even say who), let the recruiter know that (their company ) was the first choice and just wanted to follow up if a second interview was in the works.  I would also tell a candidate only to do that if you have such an offer, so when the company comes back and says nothing was in the works the candidate did not push their luck.  Sometimes putting pressure on a company may have them just say ‘goodbye and best of luck’.

Mariah Wills, Campus Recruiter at Protiviti stated:

If a candidate was in the interviewing and hiring process with my company and had received an offer from another firm, I would appreciate them reaching out as soon as possible to make me aware of the competing offer. This could be done via either email or phone. If we had just begun the interview process, I think it would be appropriate for the candidate to first inquire as to what next steps looked like in the interview process and what a probable interview timeline may be should they be advancing in the interview process. The candidate could then state that they were inquiring as they did have a competing offer but that my company was their first choice and that, if at all possible, they would love to continue in the interview process in hopes of being further considered. Should we be further along in the interview process, it would still make sense for the candidate to reach out as soon as possible and maybe reiterate what we had previously discussed about the recruitment timeline.

For example, ‘I am aware that there are still x amount of steps in the interview process, however, I wanted to make you aware that I have received a competing offer with a deadline of x. If at all possible, I would still love to be considered for the XYZ role at your company. Please let me know if there would be an opportunity to continue in the interview process and receive a decision prior to my competing offer deadline. At this time you are my top choice, however, if, at all possible, I would like to be able to respect the time constraints of my competing offer as well.”

I think the key is being honest in your continued enthusiasm and transparency. Providing the competing deadline is so helpful so that I, as the recruiter, can provide realistic feedback to both the candidate and the hiring team.

Elizabeth Vardaman, Senior Recruiter at YETI Coolers added:

Transparency and directness are always appreciated by recruiters. I recommend that they inform at the first indicator that the offer is coming, or even when they get to the reference stage to buy us more time. If we’re the first choice, let us know! No promises we can accelerate the process on our end, but they won’t know unless they ask. 

Sandy De La Garza, Talent Acquisition Manager at Enterprise Mobility said:

During the interview process, I believe it is important to be transparent to enable both the company and the candidates to make the best decisions regarding their futures. I encourage applicants to be honest about companies they are interviewing with and where they stand in the process. This allows the recruiters the opportunity to provide detailed information regarding the company and position to potentially help the candidate make the decision that is best for them and their future.

Bottom line: Be honest but you don’t need to over-share. Don’t think by that being open that you are pressuring the other companies. They want to know your situation rather than be blind-sided. 

How to decide between multiple offers

First, don’t decide based on salary alone. Nearly every conversation that I have had with a student on choosing which offer to take starts and ends with salary.  “So Company X is offering $55,000 and Company Y is offering $58,000. Which should I take?”  Base salary is simply not enough information to make this decision!

There are so many factors that you need to consider before accepting one offer much less comparing between multiple job offers. Here is a list of things to consider.

Compensation and Monetary Benefits
Base Salary
Benefits (Health Insurance, Dental, Vision, Life Insurance, Short-Term & Long Term Disability, etc.)
Commission (where applicable)
Vacation, Sick Days, PTO
Performance and Salary Review

Non-Compensation Factors
Job Content
Organizational Culture
Work Environment
Availability of Feedback
Growth Potential
Commute Time
Travel Requirements
Relocation Requirements (Present and Future)
Number of Hours per Week
Daily Start / End Times
Start Date
Professional Development
Education Reimbursement
Other Perks (Car, Cell Phone, Computer)
Ability to Telecommute or Work From Home

To assist you with this important decision, check out the Job Offer Comparison Checklist, Preparation for Evaluating and Negotiating Job Offers, as well as the Salary Negotiation page and blog articles about Salary Negotiation.

Need help with any of these steps? Make an appointment to see a Career Counselor at the Rockwell Career Center.