When applying for graduate jobs, and getting interviews, it can sometimes be difficult to balance them. For example, you may get an offer for a job, but have another interview for another opportunity booked in. Or you may be lucky enough to get two offers to consider.


When getting an offer it is ok to not accept immediately. If you are not sure then initially you may ask for one or two days to think about it. Sit down and think of the other options you have, and the offer you have been made. If it seems obvious that the offer is the best option, the recruiter / employer know you are accepting immediately. Then email any other businesses you are at interview stage with; say something along the lines of ‘thank you for your interest in me, but I have now accepted another offer and wish to withdraw my application’.

If it’s a bit closer to call, then sometimes writing a ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ list can help. What are the good and bad points about each opportunity. You may then come to the same decision.

But if you are not comfortable with declining the other options, you may still wish to proceed with them. Be careful when doing this, as while most employers will be happy to allow some time, it can leave a feeling that you are not fully committed if it goes on too long. Only do this if the other options are of genuine interest and you are not comfortable withdrawing. And ultimately that you are ok with potentially losing the offer you have been made, in order to proceed with the other options.

The business can’t wait indefinitely, or they could run the risk of not only losing you, but also potentially their 2nd and 3rd choices; so some kind of deadline needs to be put on it.

If you are not ready to accept immediately, it’s something recruiters and employers are used to. But if you ask for some time to consider, then update the recruiter or employer first thing on the day you said you will give an update (around 9am, or email the night before). Even if it is to ask for more time. So, if you ask for the weekend to consider the offer, then you need to give some kind of update around 9am Monday morning.


If you need a couple of extra days to consider an offer so you can attend another interview, then say so. No reasonable employer would refuse. Though if the other interview is a week away then I would say that you really need to ask the other employer to bring their interview forward; and it’s also a good idea to let them know that you have got an offer, so they can speed things along. If you feel comfortable doing it, you could also ask if you are a strong contender for that role (it could be that you are not).


If there is going to be a delay then the best (and only!) thing to do is be honest. If you start making excuses, being slow to reply to messages, or ignoring calls and not returning them,  then it will generally be obvious what is going on (usually that you are waiting on another offer or interview). It will not look good, and often gives an indication of a lack of interest. Remember, this is a job offer we are talking about, not something trivial.

Updating the recruiter means that they don’t need to spend valuable time chasing you, a ‘plan B’ can be put in place for if required, and someone else may get their dream job if you decline.

It also looks bad on the recruiter if they cannot update the employer, as you are representing them. You may ask how that affects you, and although you may feel that it doesn’t matter at that time, think of the future; you may want to apply to join that business in the future, or someone senior from that business may join a company you are working for, or you may want to apply to another job the recruiter has available.

So, be open and honest- you may not be comfortable discussing this, or letting people down, and if that is the case then simply send an email. And make sure you let the recruiter know as soon as you can. At least then someone else can take the opportunity, or the search can begin again quickly if there is nobody else suitable. The same applies if you are going to accept the offer- pass on your decision asap, or you may risk giving a negative impression.

Matthew Parry,
Director. SME Graduate Employment

Email: matthew@sme-graduates.co.uk Telephone: 0370 774 9500

SME Graduate Employment is a specialist student and graduate recruitment agency covering permanent jobs, placements, and internships across the UK. Most job types and business sectors are covered.

You can see student and graduate jobs advertised here Student and Graduate job vacancies (sme-graduates.co.uk) and read more blogs and advice to help develop your employability skills here University student and graduate employability advice and tips (sme-graduates.co.uk)

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