Responding to a potential job offer in an interview

A few days back I saw a LinkedIn post written by an entrepreneur that had garnered more than three thousand “likes.”. The gist of the post was that a fresh graduate, in an interview, should never say “I will think about it” in answer to “Would you accept an offer if we give you one?” Because saying “I will think about it”, according to the entrepreneur, will get you rejected. He recalls an interview in which his boss at a top investment bank told him to reject a candidate for saying “Let me think through this.”

According to the author, you should always enthusiastically respond to such a potential offer. Here is what he recommends saying: “Tell them they are the one, it is your lifelong dream to work there.”

I fell from my chair reading this.

I respectfully but wholeheartedly disagree with this advice. Having conducted hundreds of interviews over more than a decade, I would never give such advice to a young graduate. Important decisions -- a new job can affect you emotionally, financially and socially -- require some time for the decision-maker to reflect upon different available choices. Taking reasonable time to exercise good judgment and think through alternatives is a sign of prudence. Prudence is a virtue that should always be admired.  


Would you not like to work with a colleague who usually takes some time to exercise good judgment, who does his research and compares alternatives to mitigate risk before making crucial decisions? Therefore, in my view, prudence should be admired, and a candidate should never be rejected for showing it.

Joining a company is a life-altering decision, and if someone is not taking time to think about it, then that is a red flag. If someone does not exercise good judgment while facing an important decision, do you not think this instead is what should worry you as a manager? Can you rely entirely on a colleague who makes important decisions in a rush?

Enthusiasm and exuberance alone do not take one very far when faced with critical issues. For example, if you are a salesman for a company facing a financial crunch, you cannot land large number of paying customers with the following sales pitch: “It is my lifelong dream that you start using our product.” It will take a lot more than that.

So yes, I want my colleague to be excited about the company, but I also want him to think through important things. I would never disqualify a candidate on the basis of his saying “I am excited about this, but let me think it through. Is it okay if I get back to you in a day or two?” I would respect the sentiment behind that statement.

If you are not hired for showing prudence, trust me, count your blessings, because you are better off somewhere where an act of prudence is tolerated.

(Photo by Ben White on Unsplash)