The initial offer may arrive in a few forms, ranging from informal to formal. Many companies prefer to make the initial offer verbally. The recruiter or the hiring manager will reach out and ask if you have some time to chat, then set up a call where they’ll deliver the offer at a high level: base salary, bonus structure, any stock options, and maybe a possible start date. Sometimes the initial offer will come in an email.
Regardless of how they deliver the initial offer, you should answer something like this:
“Thank you so much for the offer. I would like to take a day or two to think it over before I respond.”
That’s the straightforward version, but you can beef it up with something like, “…I just want to run it by my spouse to make sure we’re on the same page,” or “…I just need to talk it over with my family before I respond.”
In general, the more time you have to think it over and determine your counter, the better. Shoot for a day or two, and it may help if you can stretch it over a weekend.
You may also want to ask some questions about the offer, but keep in mind that you are not negotiating yet. You might ask about start date, or ask for clarification on benefits, or confirm how many vacation days you would get, but you’re not countering or accepting yet. Not even if you really like the offer! Okay?