How long should you wait before accepting a job offer? If it's your dream job, then about a millisecond, enough time for your brain to get the message to your vocal cords to create the words "I accept". When the job duties, pay, commute, and everything else that makes up your job commitment all align, then there should be no time wasted. Snatch that baby up.
We've all lived on this earth for awhile now, and know that the stars do not always align perfectly. Sometimes you need some time to think about the offer. Maybe you have interviewed somewhere else and are waiting on another offer. Or, the pay might not exactly match what you wanted, but the benefits are great, but the commute is far, but they have a gym on site, but the "gym" only has two elliptical machines so it's really more of a fitness center and oh jeez I need to discuss this with my spouse. My run-on sentence is a nod to the stress that can accompany accepting a job offer. It's hard making a big decision on the spot, so it is okay to take a little time before accepting.
But how much time? In our experience, handling staffing needs for our Tampa and Orlando clients, you should take no longer than 24 hours to make your decision. You were not the only person interviewed for the job, but the hiring manager liked you the best and wants to get you onboard. The hiring process can be a lengthy affair, and once a great candidate is found, hiring managers want to finish that process. There were probably other candidates the hiring manager liked as well, and if you cannot commit, the hiring manager wants to make sure that those other people are still available. To a hiring manager, you taking your time increases the likelihood of both you not taking the role and them losing out on their second choice. In their mind, if you really wanted the position, you would have accepted between a day or two.
Another important thing to remember is do not let too much time go by without contact with the hiring manager, even if you are still weighing your decision. Send an email asking a clarifying question about the offer, give an update on your thought process, or, at the very least, ask politely for more time. Letting days go by without any form of contact sends a poor message and makes the hiring manager rethink their choice.
In a Q and A on AskAManager.org, Alison Green responds to a hiring manager's question about how long they should give candidates time to mull the offer over, by reminding them:
This advice is pertinent to candidates as well. By doing your research and asking the right questions ahead of time, if you do get that offer, you will not need very much time to make your decision, one way or the other.
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