How to answer "if we gave you an offer, would you sign it"?

My inclination is to just say yes because that's obviously what the firm wants to hear. But if the firm isn't actually my #1 choice, what then? How bad is it to say yes and then not accept the offer?

I just feel like saying anything other than yes is an automatic indication that they are not the top choice, and that could affect whether I get the offer or not.

This is for MBA associate recruiting if that makes a difference. I know school alumni are also pulling for us so I don't want my actions to reflect poorly on them either. 

 

In an ideal world, it would work like this:

  1. You say whatever you need to say to get the offer in writing - do not sign it
  2. They will make you aware of a timeline to sign it
  3. You tell your contact at another bank/s you have an offer with a top bank
  4. You interview with the other bank or banks within timeline provided by first bank you have offer with
  5. You get a verbal offer and say what you need to say to get written offer
  6. You compare offers and sign one, and tell others immediately after you respectfully have accepted another offer

It will never be this clean, but getting the first written offer is key to enabling the others. Good luck.

 

Use some tact as others have said - there are an infinite number of responses you can  say that affirm your interest in the bank and need to review the written offer. The game is the game and nothing you would do here is unprecedented.

 

I once received that question. My reply was: “depends on how good the offer is”

Remember, it’s a two way deal. You don’t have to agree to anything until you see the terms. Imo, it would be a red flag for a junior to say “yes” without a thought, no matter how top level the firm is.

buy the ticket, take the ride
 

Well this is coming from experience being on both sides. I've interviewed more than a few people throughout my career and in my opinion its way more important to hire someone that has critical thinking skills as opposed to a yes-man that is too professionally immature to see past the cult that finance is. You can teach a kid to model quickly, its much more difficult to teach someone to think

Then again, I've only worked in boutique firms and in CD & M&A in a bank in an emerging market, so I guess my opinion might be biased

buy the ticket, take the ride
 

Honesty... the correct answer is to just say what needs to be said. Say yes without giving any explicit commitment, when the offer is in writing, use it as a bargaining chip in other late-stage rounds, and once any or all offers have been provided, make the decision of who to sign with. If I received this I'd answer with: "Well, as you know, I'm incredibly interested in working at the firm and position. i'm eager to begin.... In speaking with x, I heard y about the culture... as such, I'd be eager to sign if I were extended the offer." so on and so forth. Nothing specific and no guarantee. 

 

I’ll offer a different perspective from the buyside: if you say “yes” right away, you’re basically kowtowing to what’s basically a high pressure sales tactic and making decisions without doing proper diligence. That is not what we’re looking for, especially if you’re going to work on 9, 10 or 11 figure deals with us.

 

M7 MBA 1Y who has been successful in this recruiting cycle:

My school has a "Silver Bullet" policy with this question (e.g. we can only tell one bank that we would sign with them if we got an offer because if we get an offer and don't sign that is a reneg according to school policy in the interest of maintaining relationships with the bank).

As a result my approach to this question in coffee chats/interviews has been to say something along the lines of the bank is among my top group of banks in the process and then go into my why x bank talking points, finishing off with I can really see myself joining the team and fitting in well. This way I give an affirmative answer without cornering myself in a reneg situation. (Obviously this only works if you can speak to having multiple banks in your recruiting pipeline simultaneously, if you have a bunch of banks with staggered dates or one bank it may make sense to shoot and try and get that seat.)

Your mileage may vary obviously, and some testy bankers may push you more/be unsatisfied but that is part of the variance in this process. Just trying to show what has worked for me.

 

My situation is that I have some superdays this week but my couple of top choices are on a later timeline. The banks that are my top choices are also more competitive so I plan to really go all out for a seat this week. My school doesn't formally have this 'silver bullet' policy, but I also don't want to burn any bridges by saying I will accept an offer and then not doing so. That's why I was kind of wondering whether banks really hold you to it or if it's just a "high pressure sales tactic" as someone else in the thread said.

 

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