Saturday, February 04, 2012
Science Professor posted an article discussing whether it is best to take a job in hand or to take a risk on the possibility of another job offer coming through.* The answer, of course, is that it depends.
Personally, I am probably more conservative and honor-bound than most. So I would look at the job offer and try to figure out if it is good enough, and if so, accept the job and don't look back. Reneging is sometimes necessary (e.g., family emergency, something big that changes the game), but it is really rude to the people who are trying to hire for a position.
I once had a postdoc candidate who turned down my job offer so that they could interview at Dream Place. This person hadn't even gotten an interview there yet. I was surprised that this is what they chose to do, but it worked out well for them in the end -- they now work at Dream Place. And it worked out well for me as well, because I was able to hire the second-choice candidate who is now doing a wonderful job.
But we had another candidate who reneged, and not for good reasons, which made my boss extremely angry. It is really hard on the hiring manager when this sort of thing happens -- we have to reopen the job search if we've already closed it, and there may have been a perfectly capable second-choice candidate who we've already rejected and has probably gotten a job elsewhere. If it's for a good reason, we don't get resentful, but when it's because you've accepted a "better" job, that's different! That person will never get a job with anyone my boss knows.
* In the context of professional job fields in which jobs are relatively plentiful -- making the best choice amongst many good choices.