The grass is greener interview. And what to do.

The grass is greener interview. And what to do.

13 Jul 17:00 by Ben Cantrall


Got an offer from one company, but got an interview elsewhere you’re more excited about? Here’s how to handle it:

I got a text yesterday from the guy I sat next to in year 7 homeroom. “Cans, got time to talk shop today?” Of course. My life is literally talking as much shop as possible.

Here’s the scenario. Jimmy’s partner has got a job offer, today, from a company she’s been interviewing with. She has an interview tomorrow, with another company, which seems more appealing. I like to call this the grass is greener interview.

A pretty common scenario if you been interviewing a bit and doing your preparation.

So here’s my personal opinion on the best way to handle it.

Firstly, what’s an offer? If you said anything but a contract, with your name, a start date and the remuneration specifics, you had the wrong answer. How do I know this? I learnt the hard way, aged 23, when I handed in my notice from a job on the back of a verbal offer- only to never receive a contract, and never start with that company.

So, if you don’t have the contract, you can’t accept the job. In that instance, I'd ask for the contract.

But let’s say you do have a contract, and you’ve got the grass is greener interview tomorrow. How to handle that?

With direct communication.

Firstly, if you have an offer for a job you’re never going to accept, you should just tell them straight up. “Thank you for your time but I have thought about this in great detail and this is not a role I can commit to. Here’s what I would be looking for and if you have any opportunities that align with that, I would love to pick up the conversation.” Who knows, maybe they have something that suits you better? Either way, you're not wasting anyone's time.

Secondly, if you would accept the offer if the grass is greener interview didn’t come through, again with the direct communication. “Thank you for the contract and the offer. I will read through the contract overnight and will come back to you with any questions I have. I also want to let you know I have another interview tomorrow with a separate company. I believe it’s best to understand my options fully before I make a commitment so I will be attending that as well.”

In this scenario, you may be pressed as to which one you like better. Again with the direct communication- highlight what you like about the company you have an offer from, but be clear that you are still considering your options. “What appeals to me about your role is XY and Z, and I can see myself adding real value to the business and learning a lot, and I am certainly not taking your offer for granted as I believe it is a good offer. However I believe in direct communication and transparency and I can’t commit before I have my other interview tomorrow. I also need to understand the contract correctly too! When I do commit, I am all in”.

Some people will suggest that you just buy yourself some time and say that you’ll need to read the contract, and not mention all that green grass you’ve been eyeing off. After all, it may not even be an issue, right? I disagree.

Here’s why.

If you have the courage to have a direct conversation with someone, they will not feel blindsided or betrayed when you tell them about your other secret grass. It’s a small world, and people remember how you make them feel. Who knows who you’ll meet in a job interview (again!) in 5 years time, and how green the grass may look in that interview?

Jimmy’s follow up message was illuminating, and I imagine reflects the thoughts of a few people reading this: “Heavily dependent on the attitude of the potential employer (the yellow grass) as much as the candidate I feel. Some people wanna hear you be over the moon to be offered their role”

My response to that is this: If a prospective employer throws their toys out of the pram because you’re interviewing elsewhere and want to understand your options fully before you commit, are they really someone you want to work with? They sound emotionally immature and commercially inept if that’s the attitude. I would suggest the grass may actually be greener in that scenario!

The other advantage of being transparent is the yellow grass company may actually ask a few more questions, and change their offer or the role... which could in fact make their grass greener. But if you never spoke to them and gave them the chance, you'd never know.

Short story. Direct communication for the win. Make sure you’ve got green grass in the future.