Two Job Offers, One Me, How Do I Choose?

Dear Mom:

I’ve been out looking for a part-time job at my new school for a bit now, and all of a sudden I’ve been called in for a second interview at two different places. How do I choose which one to go with?

Too Popular For My Own Good. 

Dear Popular:

Short answer: Congratulations! But there’s no decision to make.

Long answer: Yet.

Go to both interviews. Do your best, make a great impression, and be sure to relax and let them know exactly why they’d be lucky to have you as an employee. (Avoid outright bragging; let your confidence, personality, and demeanour speak for you.) But I don’t have to tell you any of this – you’ve already got the second interview.

So basically, there’s no decision to make until both of them offer you a position: something that could very well happen during the interviews. So you’ll want to be prepared for that scenario.

Take some time between now and then to go back and really examine what you want to get out of a job. Why are you wanting to work in the first place? What made you apply to these two places? Pull out a piece of paper – yes, paper and pen – and, line down the middle, one job on one side, one on the other, line through the middle, pros on the top half, cons on the bottom. Then really dig deep for honest answers for yourself, write what you think:

  • How much does the money mean to me? What are the wages – is there a ‘student’ rate? Hourly wages vs piecework vs commission vs salary? Tips and how do they manage them? Is there a probationary period? A pay scale? Benefits and how much do they cost you? Servers’ minimum wage plus tips minus 25% to the kitchen might still be better than standard minimum wage plus $1 plus benefits.
  • What kind of hours are you looking at? What kind of time off will you need? How flexible will they be? Will your job interfere with your school hours? How do they handle sick time? Bar hours to 2am on school nights might mean more money, but lack of sleep could get in the way fast. A retail position ’til 9pm every night seems okay, unless you don’t actually finish ’til 10 when the bus schedule thins out to every hour and you don’t get home until 11:30.
  • How much will it cost you to work there? Add in the cost of transportation, uniforms, equipment, training, grooming, etc. and you could be looking at some surprising expenses.
  • Where will you be working? Sometimes the place where you’re interviewing isn’t the place where you’ll be working. Will you be able to get there easily? In a timely fashion?
  • Does it matter who you’re working with? That popular chain restaurant will typically draw customers with kids and groups of talkers, with a happy, if predictable, staff. While the hipster indy diner will attract a much different crowd and crew. Are you more familiar with the burger and fry lifestyle, or intrigued by the possibility of constantly changing menu with new and unique dishes? Are you more comfortable dealing with corporate authority and restrictions, or the more colourful eccentricities of the Mom&Pop setup?
  • Are there extra benefits to working there? Discounts, passes, connections?
  • Where do you want this job to take you? What are you expecting to take away from it? Is this a stepping stone to the next big thing? A great notch on your resume? Or just a filler?
  • Anything else you can think of…

If you don’t know the answer to any of these questions, the perfect time to ask is during your second interview. It shows that you’ve taken time to think about working there, you’re interested, and responsible enough to tackle the nitty gritty. And believe me, it is much easier to ask the tough questions before you’ve actually committed to the job.

Once the offer is made, you have every right to ask for a couple of days to make your final decision. If they want you that badly, they’ll understand that you’re looking at other offers. Attend both interviews, and then make your decision.

Make sure, after the fact, that you take the time to mail a handwritten card – yes, mail, yes hand write!! – to the employer you turned down. Thank them for their time and consideration; they spent time and effort on you, and you need to let them know that you respect and appreciate that, even though it didn’t work out in the end. This is an investment in a future event that you can’t possibly imagine right now – trust me on this.

Hope that helps,

Love Mom.

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