|  January 10, 2013

Common interview questions: Where else are you interviewing?

Here’s a common interview question that really catches people off guard! “Where else are you interviewing?” In this post, I’ll give a little insight into why the interviewer is probably asking this question and how you should answer it.

where else are you interviewing

Common interview question: “Where else are you interviewing?”

May also be phrased like: “What other companies are you speaking with?” / “Are you far along in the process with any other companies?” / “What other companies are you applying to?” / “What other companies are you interviewing with?”

Why they’re asking: While many people are hesitant to give away this information, the interviewer may be asking purely out of logistical reasons.  Really, there are two main reasons interviewers are asking this question:

  •  They want to make sure they will be able to hire you before anyone else does: Every interview process moves at it’s own pace, and sometimes that pace is very slow.  If you are not interviewing with any other companies, then the company can probably take their time.  If you are in the interviewing process with other companies, and you get an offer, the company risks losing you as a candidate if they can’t move quickly enough.  Having the conversation upfront makes for less surprises later on.  A good recruiter will  ask this question.  The more viable you are for the job, the more important it is.
  • They want to see how focused you are in your search: This reason is less common, but if you spend the whole interview saying how much you want to be in marketing but then when this question comes up you say you’re also interviewing for Human Resources roles, it’s not going to look great.  If you are really passionate about the finance industry but then you’re also interviewing in fashion, you’re also deviating from your story.  The interviewer may want to know how much your reasons for wanting to work at their company, apply to the other companies you are talking to.

How to answer this interview question:

  • Be honest – If you aren’t, and then you do get another offer from company B and are asking the company you interviewed with to give you a quick answer on your status, it’s going to look bad that it’s the first time it’s coming up.  Good candidates keep clear, open dialogue with their recruiters.  You don’t need to go into a lot of detail but it’s important to say how far along in the process you are.  If you’re not comfortable giving the company names you can just say something like “I’m interviewing with another company in this industry and I have already been through a few rounds of interviews.”  Many people are scared to give this information up – but it’s not something you should be nervous about.
  • Make sure what you’re saying “aligns” with your overall story – As mentioned above, you don’t want to contradict yourself here.  In my opinion honestly is always the best policy, but if other roles you’re interviewing for contradict other things you’ve said, you should be more vague.
  • Emphasize what you like about the company you’re interviewing with and why it is a top choice – If the company is your #1 choice, say so here! They will love to hear that.  If they’re not, that’s ok too but make sure you emphasize that it is one of your top choices and the reasons why.  Use some of your thoughts from your “why do you want to work here” answer to plug into this one.  Companies know you are probably interviewing elsewhere (the interviewing process is not monogamous!) but you still want to make it clear that they have a good chance of hiring you.  You don’t want to play hard to get in the interview process.

All in all… Don’t be afraid of this question.  Answer it honestly and avoid some common pitfalls and it will be seen as a good thing.  Jump over to our section on answering common interview questions to learn how to answer some of the other big ones.

answers to interview questions

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