Learn to Answer the Question, 'Where Else Are You Interviewing?'

Corporate Lifestyle 38

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If you're job hunting, it's not unlikely that you'll be asked about the other companies you are interviewing with during the interview process. 

Interviewers will be curious about the other employers you are interviewing with for a variety of reasons. This question is often an indicator that the employer views you in a positive light and wants to know if the competition might also want to hire you. In hiring, timelines can be important - if the interviewer knows you're actively talking to other companies, it could lead to a more streamlined interview process. 

In other cases, recruiters may want to determine how focused you are on your career interests. Are you applying for any position, or are you focused on a set industry or kind of role? Interviewers will be trying to figure out if your other options are similar to the job for which you are interviewing. Another possible reason for this question is to determine how seriously you are searching for a new job. You should be honest in your response to this question but avoid over-sharing. 

Be Careful What You Disclose

In general, it's a good idea to avoid stating that the job you're interviewing for is the only one you are considering. Your marketability can be brought into question if you are not attracting attention from other employers. Also, your leverage in salary negotiations will be compromised because the potential employer knows you have no other options.

An exception is a case in which an executive recruiter has reached out to you, and initiated your application. In that case, it is appropriate to mention that you are happy with your current job but excited to explore this opportunity because the recruiter contacted you. In this situation, the prospective employer will realize that they are competing with your current employer to vie for your services.

Exploring Options

Often, the best approach is to mention that you are exploring a number of other (similar) opportunities in the industry. It can be helpful to mention that a common denominator amongst all the jobs you are applying for is the opportunity to apply some critical abilities and skills that you possess. 

For example, you might say, "I am applying for several positions with IT consulting firms because I enjoy analyzing client needs and translating them into development teams in order to find solutions to difficult technical problems. I've had a lot of training in this area and feel I am skilled at finding viable solutions."

Be cautious about overplaying your hand and mentioning too many other highly respected firms which might be interested in recruiting you. The potential employer might view you as an unattainable employee and move on to more realistic prospects. In general, it's probably best to avoid naming specific companies and keep your response more general. You can say, "I'm interviewing with another company in the XXX industry." 

What if you are not interviewing anywhere else? In that case, you might mention that you're early in your job search. Then, you can pivot in your response to talking about what kind of job you want. For instance, you could say, "I've just begun my job hunt, but I'm most interested in a position that will allow me to use my communication strengths. That's part of why I was so interested in this role at your company since it calls for managing an internal website and sharing information with customers as well." 

As always, avoid any temptation to stray from the truth. The consequences when lies are discovered are just too painful. For instance, if you say you're close to a job offer when you're not, it will be really awkward if you have to respond to a follow-up question on the status of that offer a few weeks later. And, if you mention a specific company, it's always possible your interviewer will have connections over there and follow up. 

Show Your Enthusiasm

Even if you're not sure you want to work for the company, be enthusiastic when you respond to this question. You would rather be offered the job and turn it down then be overlooked for the position. For example, you might say, "While I am seriously exploring other positions where I can leverage my venture capital skills, your position is a primary target for me." You can then elaborate on how you feel that you would be a valuable addition to their team.​