Exploding Job Offers: What's Your Take?

I’ve seen the term “exploding job offers” pop up on three Slack groups I’m a member of this week and wanted to talk about them in a bit more detail here.

For those not familiar with the term, the interviewee is essentially given an offer of employment that will be retracted within X amount of time EDIT for clarification: where X = hours not days or weeks. In the cases I’ve seen this week, X = 48 hours :open_mouth: So, essentially, if you haven’t accepted/rejected the job within 48 hours, the company rescinds the offer.

What do you think of this practice? Is there any situation where you’d feel comfortable being the interviewee in this situation?

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Never been on the receiving end of it myself but I’m assuming this is so that the company doesn’t keep other potential candidates waiting for too long?

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In one case I’d heard, yes that was the reason given and the person had 48 hours to accept. In another it was “So we can start interviewing new candidates” which seemed strange to me to have a time box on it then of end of business that same day.

When I last accepted a job offer (five years ago), I was actually waiting for the outcomes from two interviews. When the recruitment agency rang with the acceptance (from the second interview), I said that I was waiting on a decision from the first one. The agency (who was going to get paid on this, don’t forget) put pressure on me to accept, implying that there was an element of explosion in it. They may have been right, as the other candidate I was up against was an equally good match for the role (and indeed joined the company a month after I did when another opening came up).

At the time I believed the agency when they suggested it was good manners to accept. And as I was out of work at the time and had been for nearly six months, it’s hardly as if I was in a strong position…

(OTOH, earlier in my job search, I’d had the opposite experience, being kept waiting by a company who’d rejected the other candidate but then took a week to decide I wasn’t who they were looking for either.)

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It sounds like you’re simply replaceable by this message, which I don’t like very much. We are human beings after all and may have things going on. How about flipping it around and let candidates know the result within 48 hours? :wink: Often we are waiting around to hear back after interviews.

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I would immediately ignore anyone coming with an exploding option. Mainly because I’m not the competitive type, and that’s a turn-off for me. Agents probably do know this and possibly use it as a way to filter people who are anti-competitive.

A long time back someone told me that if they really want “you” they will make another opening. It’s not an option lately with regulation and hiring practise scrutiny gone mad, so probably less valid today. But I still tell myself, even despite my imposter syndrome, you are worth it.

I’m sure it will happen to me again, but my job-seeking strategy is to only apply for jobs I want to apply for. So I do get a lot less of these, but I have had an agent try this on me and it is hard to just say no. I guess because my job strategy has always been to go with just 6 rounds of ammunition and a sniper rifle rather than a bag full of shells and a double-barrel, that this has only happened to me once.

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I have always believed this, if the candidate is right, companies will try find away to hire them into their team. I guess I am often also relying on the fact that in the UK, experienced testers are still quite rare in the wild.

My very first memorable interview with a hardware company in Cambridge I recall walking in as someone was walking out. By the end of my interview I already knew the guy I passed in the lobby had the job, I’m no people reader, I believe in luck on the day playing as big a part as skill on your CV. So the idea of an exploding job offer does not fit not my version of job hunting that requires luck and skill.

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I can see how this makes some sense in highly competitive areas. I can get on board with the idea of trying to get the right people into the job asap.

Feels a bit like a high pressure sales tactic. Which smells bad to me.

I can see a view that if you’ve applied for a job and interviewed then you want it right? Does a short decision period only cause a problem for people who are unsure? Would many people be likely to accept the job quickly even if the time-limit wasn’t there?

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Would be a big red flag for me, I’m not sure how I could do anything but reject in that case.

If a company thinks I am a good fit, they should be willing to give me a propper time to consider the offer. What else won’t they give me time for?

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Both of those explanations sound like the same thing? i.e. the company is trying to fill the position, so they can’t just keep waiting on candidates.

At least here in the US, it’s pretty standard that companies have a deadline when they need a accept/reject on a job offer, usually stated in the offer letter or candidates almost always ask “When do you need a response by?”

Seems reasonable, e.g. a company can’t keep a position open indefinitely for a candidate?

When I’m on the job hunt, I tend to be very transparent, and tell my interviewers if I have other interviews, and if I need an extension, I’ll be upfront that I’m also in talks with another company, have an interview scheduled for a few days after their offer expires, so if I could have a week extension or so, that’d be great. Sometimes they say yes, sometimes they say no.

Is the exploding part that it’s so short? Or are job offers in other places generally more open-ended with regards to timelines?

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I’ll first try to guess the company’s perspective. Their tactic might be okay to use on people who have some experience and/or exceptional qualifications. Maybe they want to see if you are truly interested in the job and find the benefits acceptable. If yes, then why not accept the job right away? Whats holding you back that you cannot bring up in a negotiation?

If you can’t decide in 2-3 days, then you probably consider the company to be your backup option. That is, you’ll probably leave the company as soon as possible, say in under a year or so. Before the pandemic, I saw many programmers and testers who worked at multiple companies for 6 months to 2 years at each, and they seemed to be thriving. Perhaps the 5-15 year stint is going to become less common. So, if today’s employees are likely to leave soon as a matter of habit, then a disliking for the company from day one itself will only hasten their departure.

Now, I’ll think about it from a candidate’s perspective i.e. mine. I’d be okay if they guaranteed that they will give me interview results quickly (e.g. up to a week since multiple people need to convene). However, if they give me this deadline too late and the market is good for me at that time, then I’ll probably pass the offer. But, if the company seems ok, then I might first negotiate for more time to see how they react. However, if I was a newbie, then I’d probably pass because I need to get the interview practice and see what is my highest worth in the market.

The companies have always had time limits on waiting for a candidate. The fact is that there ARE multiple candidates, and the company cannot wait for ever for a candidate to let them know. Our feelings as human beings are fine, but there’s a business to run, and there’s a reason behind hiring a candidate, which is to get the work started.

Probably, the time limit of 48 hours is short, but again, we need to look at how competitive this space is, and how critical it is for the company to fill the position asap.

The word ‘explode’ may have given a negative connotation, but how about ‘dissolving’
offer - i.e. if the candidate does not accept the offer, the offer just dissolves?

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I don’t mind the time gap, unless it’s like “you have to decide right now”.

Companies will try to find a person for a role, if they give you the offer and you have to think 2 weeks about it, they might have found someone else for the offer.

From the candidates (my) perspective:

  • You are applying for a job at the company because you want to work there / have interests in working there.
  • You made it passed all the interviews and have an understanding of what they do
  • You didn’t back off already… so you probably want to work there!

So why would you need 2 weeks to decide if you want to work there or not?
If the offer isn’t what you expected, counter offer them.

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Speaking as someone who does the hiring I’ve never explicitly set a time limit in the offer letter but I normally do a phone call alongside the formal letter and I will ask as part of that conversation when I can expect the to hear an answer. This is question is to set expectations of both party’s.

There is a balancing act to maintain on being fair to the person you are offering the job to someone but also the other candidates that have passed the ‘hiring bar’ and a lengthy waiting process can cause anxiety or cause them a delay in accepting another offer. As an example earlier in this thread; having a time limit on the offer has been highlighted as red flag but also the length of time candidates have to wait is an issue. It’s a difficult balancing act as the hirer.

We have stopped using recruiters as we find they can degrade the candidate experience and possibly give a false impression of the company. The commission nature of their business can sometimes drive tactics like this and perhaps you need to consider if the company’s culture fits with what you are reading or hearing.

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I’d say slightly different. In the former, there are other potential candidates that you’ve interviewed that you might give the role to should the currently offered person not accept. In the latter, you have no back up plan other than to start the entire time consuming interview process again.

Yes, for me it’s that the exploding part is so short. 2-3 days seems fair but a matter of hours is ridiculous imho. Why do you need to know by end of business on the same day if I’m going to accept? Should I not be allowed time to consider the offer on the table? If you want an answer from someone in the same working day, especially if they’re already in other employment, you’re potentially giving them the message that you see the company as more important than anything else in their life that day.

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I’ve edited the post to add further clarity as it seems the example of hours wasn’t sufficient :slight_smile:

In this case X is hours. It’s not days or weeks. That’s the exploding part, having mere hours to return an answer.

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I would fully expect this to be like a case of “you have 2 days to get back to me”, in the USA where hiring and firing is a lot quicker. Over in the UK, I would want a full week, because I would hate to be cancelling job interviews on people with only 24 hours notice, sometimes that’s going to waste a lot of people’s time. I prefer to be able to cancel interviews early and to not have the personal overload stress of a decision. So I do tend to try space mine out, although batching them up can also help here. In reality it’s common to walk into an interview while you have a offer in hand already, it makes the interview much more relaxed, and makes you a better interviewee. Although the first time this happened to me, I cancelled a interview with <24 hours notice, lesson learned.

My team will in total invest a whole 8 man-hours in an interview if you add all our time together, if not more. So we will not been keen either if we made an offer and it meant our time might have been wasted. I would imagine, in the USA, the cost of an interview is probably proportionately lower.

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I was thinking of turning this back on the company. How about saying that I love the job and there is another interview 2+ days later which had a higher salary range? If you can match that, then I’d be happy to decline the upcoming interview. Maybe this can trick the company into believing they are your top choice. I wonder if and how this tactic could backfire.

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In the US, and our cost is similar in person-hours - our hiring process includes the initial HR screen, a HackerRank problem, and then 5 hours or so onsite. Maybe a little higher than yours as several of the interview blocks for the onsite interview have two or three people interviewing the candidate.

We’re in a growth phases and hiring pretty rapidly, so even though we might have open offers with pending expiration dates, we’ll usually keep the position posted/keep interviewing (e.g. even if the candidate accepts the offer, we can probably easily find another similar role for someone we interviewed later).

I don’t think I’d read much into a high pressure/“exploding” offer itself - lots of potential reasons for this, and there’s not enough info to assign motive to the company. The more telling information would be how they responded if I said I needed another day, another week, etc to think it over/do other interviews/etc.

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