I have recently received a job offer from an institution while waiting others for either a final decision or phone interviews to be completed. One particular school that i really like, unfortunately, will not call me until mid-december. Is it a good idea to let them know that I have an offer in hands but I like their school more than my current offer? Any insights from you guys will be helpful! Thanks!
Date: 04 Dec 2013 23:52
Number of posts: 4
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I was in a very similar situation when I was on the market. I ended up telling the department chair at the end of my 2nd interview that I much preferred their position but that I had an offer from an earlier interview that would 'explode' before the earliest decision date that he was able to promise. It was a gut decision at the time, but I feel that it made me appear honest and desirable. I now know that they were as worried that I would not take their offer as I was that they would not make it. I asked the first school if they could extend the duration of the offer, but they were unable too. This did not make a good impression on me. I felt they were pressuring me.
So I did end up turning down the job I had in hand and later getting the offer from the department I preferred. It was stressful. You could always take the lesser offer and then change your mind if you get the better one. It's "bad form" but not illegal, and in this job climate who could blame you?
Anon (above) has good insight. That said, I would suggest that a school's unwillingness to extend the duration of an offer is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes hiring policies may be in place to influence this; at other times, a school might have two or three candidates they're willing to extend offers to and you're the first choice. In such an instance, they may hesitate at a longer decision deadline out of fear of losing their main candidate and the runner-up. I've seen this happen, and it can cause a school to have to return to the applicant pool or even repost a job ad. It gets messy for the hiring committee.
It's a good idea to keep schools informed. Once you have an offer in hand, you have the advantage and can politely use your position to pressure other places to speed-up their process. Congrats on the one offer!
I was on a search committee last year and our top candidate tried stringing us along after we made the offer. It was clear the person had other job interviews coming up, and wanted to interview there before accepting or turning down our offer. Consider that it conveys a clear message to job #1: "I like you, but I'm holding out for something better" or, "I'm gonna use your offer as leverage at my next interview and then pit the two offers against each other to up my salary / startup / etc..". So, we gave the person two weeks, they again asked for an extension, we turned down their request and went on to our second choice, and the top candidate ended up getting and taking a better job. So, we wouldn't have gotten them even if we had delayed their decision deadline. It's not always possible for search committees to keep waiting, and some of us have other really good candidates waiting in line for our offers.
Some deans also refuse to negotiate or to be held hostage by a candidate; deans are often far less invested in who gets hired than the department is, and at many places the dean matters more, as they control the money and the perks of the offer.