There are some questions in a job interview that manage to catch people off-guard and this is one of them:
Where else are you interviewing?
It’s an odd question and people aren’t quite sure what their interviewer is getting at by asking it. We’re going to break this all down and cover why they’re asking, how to answer, and share some different scripts you can use.
Why they’re asking
There are a few potential reasons your interviewer is asking you about this.
The first is to get a sense of your interests outside of their role and company. Your answer will tell them if you’re leading a focused and strategic job search or if you are all over the place.
For example, if you’re doing a hard sell that you want to work in tech but then you’re interviewing with banks as well, your interviewer may question if that interest is genuine.
Same thing goes if you’re interviewing at a small and fast-growing company but then you share that all the other companies you’re interviewing with are big, established, and structured.
Essentially, they’re looking to see if your actions match up with what you say you want.
Another reason they might ask is simply to see how aggressively you are job searching. If you’re out there interviewing with tons of companies at once it means that you might get (and accept) another offer if the company moves too slowly.
If they learn that you don’t have too much else going on, there isn’t a big risk of losing you.
What makes a good answer?
When answering this question, there are a few things you want to convey.
You’re in demand: You don’t want to make it seem like you are putting all your eggs in one basket and desperate for the company’s offer. This means you either want to give the impression that you’re happy in your current role OR that you have a few other irons in the fire. Either option works.
You’re focused: Like we just talked about, you don’t want your answer to make it seem like you’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall in your search. Even if you are interviewing at other organizations or for other jobs that are different, you may not want to share that. This may mean you need to omit certain information or answer in a slightly more vague way. I’ll share a few templates in a moment.
You are very excited about their company and job: While you don’t want to seem desperate, you also don’t want to come across as disinterested or too good for the job you’re interviewing for. Sharing that the company (or job) is a top choice is always a good best practice, even if they may not be.
Some scripts you can follow
Here are a few sample answers that would work well if you’re asked where else you’re interviewing or what else is going on in your job search.
Vague but focused: I’m currently interviewing with a few other companies in the [industry] space for similar types of roles. That being said, I am extremely excited about this opportunity and think it would be the perfect fit.
Interviewing with competitors: I am actively interviewing right now and based on my desire to [what your focus is], I am also in the process with [company] and [company]. That being said, I am extremely excited about this opportunity and think it would be the perfect fit.
Note: the reason to share this is to show that you’re in-demand and other high-caliber companies are trying to hire you.
Not interviewing elsewhere: I’m not actively interviewing right now. I’m happy in my role at [company] and not anxious to leave. However, when I saw this role I felt that it was such a perfect fit and [company] is a place I’ve always admired and wanted to work, so I was excited to apply.
All in all…
The key to answering this question well is simply to not feel uncomfortable or get thrown off by it. There is no reason you need to be loyal to a company that hasn’t hired you yet.
Whether you want to show that you’re being selective, focused, or are reasonably happy where you are, don’t dodge the question, answer with confidence, and show a genuine interest in the company you’re interviewing with.
Prepping for an interview?
Check out my Ace You Interview online course. You can preview the first lesson and download the full course workbook for free.