Understanding the Ethics of Campus Job Offers and Acceptances

student shaking hands with a potential employer

Managing Job/Internship Offers

To Accept an Offer or Not

For full-time jobs, once a verbal offer is made, the time is right to ask questions, especially about time off, benefits and pay. You might respond to an offer by saying, “Thank you so much for the offer. I’m very excited about it. Before I accept, can you answer a few questions?” This is also the time for negotiating salary. Offers should be in writing, clearly indicating pay, benefits, start date and other details. Once you decide to accept, submit your acceptance in writing.  

Part-time jobs and internship offers may be less formal, however, this is a good time to practice being a professional by asking for and accepting the offer in writing.

No matter the type of position, once you accept, you should withdraw from the application process with all other departments/organizations. “Withdrawing” may be an option within the job application system. This way, others will know that they should consider other candidates. Be sure to cancel all pending interviews as well.

Managing Multiple Offers

You should, for the most part, never accept an offer while waiting for a better offer to come through. Once you accept, the employer notifies other applicants that the position was filled, so you put them in a precarious position when you withdraw, or renege on, your acceptance. If you are waiting on other offers, it’s best to ask the employer for additional time to make your decision. You might say, “Before I accept, is it possible for you to allow me an additional week to make my decision?” You could share that you are considering other offers if you’re comfortable saying so. Otherwise, ask for a deadline to reply to the offer. Hopefully, they can grant you a week or two, but likely no more that.

You may contact the other employers/offices where you have applied to inquire about their timeline for making offers, or even letting them know “in confidence” that they are your first preference. This way you can more easily manage your acceptance with less stress. 

If you accepted an offer and then face extreme circumstances that force you to renege, you should notify your employer immediately to withdraw your acceptance and explain why. 


Learn how to prepare for interviews. Schedule an appointment with a career coach for help preparing for interviews by calling 610-892-1390.

For on-campus jobs: If a department wishes to interview you as part of the hiring process, plan to arrive 10-15 minutes ahead of your scheduled time. Be prepared to show your Penn State ID.