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. Initially you may ask for the evening to think about it. Sit down and think of the other options you have, and the offer you have been made. If it the seems obvious that the offer is the best option, then let them know you are accepting immediately, and email any other businesses you applied to and say something along the lines of ‘thank you for your interest in me, but I have now accepted another offer so wish to withdraw my application’.

If it is 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 then you may still wish to proceed with those applications. Be careful when doing this, as most employers will be happy to allow some time- but 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.

If you are not ready to accept immediately, it’s not uncommon. And while it’s not ideal, it is something recruiters and employers are used to. So the best (and only!) thing to do is be honest. If you start making excuses, being slow to reply to messages, or even ignoring calls then it will generally be obvious what is going on- and it will not look good.

So if, for example, 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 is also a good idea to let the other employer 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).

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 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 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.

Matthew Parry,
Director. SME Graduate Employment

SME Graduate employment is a specialist graduate recruitment agency. Covering permanent roles, fixed-term contracts, student / undergraduate and graduate internships, and sandwich placements. All areas of the UK, and most industries and job types.

You can see student and graduate jobs advertised here and read more blogs and advice to help develop your employability skills here

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