MBA Interviews | Accepting (or Rejecting) an Offer
You got the offer; jump for joy! (image: Scott Ableman)
by: Grayson Leverenz
Congratulations! All of your preparation and hard work over the past several months has paid off, and the Recruiter is calling with an offer. That’s great news. Start by telling them so.
Don’t be afraid to let your excitement shine through in this initial offer discussion. Recruiters spend significant time evaluating candidates for jobs as well as MBA slots, and they love to hear enthusiasm on the other end of the line when they call with an offer. That having been said, do not accept the job on the spot, even if it’s your only option at the moment. You can express happiness while giving yourself time to evaluate the specifics and consider negotiating for the best possible offer. For example, “This is great news! Thank you. I am so excited about the possibility of working for Best Company Ever, and can’t wait to see the offer in writing. When do you think you can get that to me?”
A typical written offer in the MBA world follows the verbal offer within one week. After that, candidates usually have from several weeks to several months to make a decision. Companies build in time to account for the entire recruiting season, and generally will not pressure students to make a decision before they finish interviewing.
Do a deep dive into each aspect of the offer once you have the written proposal in hand. Talk to classmates and alumni you trust to ensure the offer meets industry standards across salary, benefits, bonuses and moving allowances. Also consider the length of the contract if the offer requires a time commitment. Compare the offer to other offers you receive, and highlight what makes the offer attractive to you as well as where it’s lacking.
MBAs wouldn’t be MBAs if they didn’t negotiate; companies expect it. But, that doesn’t mean they will always comply, especially in the current market where companies have the advantage in hiring.
If you decide to negotiate, map out the areas you think may have flexibility (e.g. salary, vacation, start date, bonus, contract length) and choose which ones you want to discuss. Highlight three options for each: your “just left of crazy” number (i.e. an option they most certainly won’t give you, but it never hurts to try); the number you want; and the lowest number you’ll accept. Enter the negotiation with your just left of crazy number, and work toward an acceptable alternative from there.
Verbally Accept or Decline.
After you’ve made your decision, call the Recruiter as soon as possible to share the news with them. Students from top MBA programs are telling me administrators are encouraging this etiquette right now more than ever. As the down economy translates into fewer jobs, it is good form to accept or decline as soon as you’ve made a decision. This allows Recruiters to stop looking or to potentially extend an offer to one of your classmates as the case may be.
Accepting is fun. You call with, “Hi, this is Olivia Adler. I have been so impressed with Best Company Ever throughout the recruiting process, and am really excited to accept your job offer! I’ll follow up with the paperwork you sent out within the week.”
Declining is not so fun, but it is necessary. You can call with, “Hi, this is Olivia Adler. I have been very impressed with Best Company Ever throughout the recruiting process, but have decided to accept another offer. It was a tough decision, but the other offer feels like a better fit with my current career goals. Thanks again for the opportunity.”
Follow up in writing.
If you accept the offer, and have a contract in hand, sign and return it as soon as possible after your phone conversation. Then, email Recruiters in the company to let them know you accepted. They will be thrilled! Refer back to your notes, and personalize the letters to remind the interviewers why they liked you in the first place. This approach sets the tone for establishing deep rapport and kicking off a phenomenal career.
If you decline the offer, but do not want to burn bridges, email the Recruiting lead as well as Recruiters that you really liked to tell them of your decision. They will be disappointed, but will appreciate that you reached out. This is important because you never know when you will be in the job market again!