I have received an offer at one school, but i also have an interview lined up at a higher-choice school. However, that school is three weeks away from decision and the dept wants a two-week turnaround. Given this economy, it seems not so good to turn down the bird-in-hand. Any suggestions about reasons to ask for extension besides spousal/family reasons?
Date: 07 Feb 2012 22:51
Number of posts: 6
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Sometimes there is wriggle room in where you define the start of the two-week clock. If you haven't received the offer in writing, you can say something like "I assume the two week clock doesn't start until I have a written offer in hand." They can't really say no. Ditto if they haven't nailed down the details of your start-up. You could also try something like "I can't make a decision in good faith until my spouse had had a chance to visit the area, and we can't make it back up here until such and such date." Having been on the other side of extension requests, though, I can say that the search committee won't like such requests and may not grant them.
My advice would be to accept the sure offer, assuming it is a place you'd have been happy to work at if this other opportunity hadn't come along. Given that you haven't even interviewed at the other school, it seems unlikely that they will be able to go through the interview process etc. in a reasonable time-frame where asking for an extension even makes sense, because if you get an extension at all from the first place, it won't be for very long.
I think it depends on your feelings towards the school that has given you the offer versus the school you have an upcoming interview at. Would you feel like you were "settling" if you went to the school that has given you the offer? If so, you might consider holding out for something better since you do have more interviews. If you would be fully content at the school that has given you the offer, you wouldn't want to make them angry by asking for an extension without a good reason which would mean accepting and not interviewing at this other school. I think you need to go with your gut in this case, and make sure that you are choosing a place you would be happy at.
If it is a research institution, then there are a LOT of steps yet for you to cover with regard to startup, space, etc.
If it is not, you still will likely have some startup and lab space issues to discuss. Just say things like, "I fully expect to take this offer, but we need to work out x y and z."
Can you say that you would like to visit the area again? Or that you would like your spouse to if you have one?
It's not at all unusual to tell a place who made you an offer that you have another interview scheduled and expect to hear back from them in three weeks. They will probably extend your deadline by one week. If they don't, then you probably don't want to be there. But I wouldn't worry about it and I would just tell them honestly that you already have another interview *scheduled*, which is a very good reason to wait (as opposed to waiting with hope that you'll get an interview invite).
Thanks for the advice. It is a research institution and I have not received the written offer yet- so i can ask to go two weeks from the written offer. I suppose that another visit to the area might be in order, but unfortunately, i cannot use the spouse card.