How should you actually answer interview questions that ask where else you are interviewing? How much is it appropriate for them to know? Is it detrimental to explain you are interviewing with others companies? As we shall find out, it may not be a crime to be interviewing with other companies but how you present this scenario before an interview panel significantly influences your chances of securing the job you are interviewing for.
These are great questions. We will help you answer them. There are many different approaches you may take when answering this question. There are also many common mistakes you should avoid. Why might your interviewer ask you such a thing? They likely want to know what their competition is. They might also want to evaluate how serious you are about this position. Knowing this, you should answer in a way that makes you seem confident, but also in a way that demonstrates your interest in their company. You don’t, however, want to give them more power over you than they need. In other words, it isn’t usually best to tell them they offer the only job you would ever accept.
How do you answer the question then? It truly depends on your particular situation. For example, are you interviewing at other companies within the industry? Are you interviewing in other industries? Is this your only interview? No matter what your circumstances are, we have thrown together a few pieces of advice you will likely find especially helpful when constructing your answer.
The General Approach
Regardless of your situation, there a few things to keep in mind when answering this type of question. Firstly, it is most important to create a balance of power between you and the employer. You don’t want your answer to make you seem completely disinterested in the company. You want to sound very interested, but also that you are not desperate for the position. Your interviewer already has power over you, for they get to decide in the end if you get the job or you don’t. Don’t give them more by asserting that this is the only job you are applying for, even if it is.
Maintain your boundaries. Secondly, keep the focus on your interests versus the actual companies you are considering. For instance, upon being asked this question, you may respond, “I am very interested in many positions within this industry. I am currently exploring my options,” or, “I am pursuing multiple opportunities, but your company excites me particularly because of XYZ.” In the former case, you describe your interests, and very generally mention you are dabbling around. In the latter case, you imply you are interviewing elsewhere, but also that you possess a particular affinity for this company. Both of these statements are fine examples of appropriate responses.
If You’re Interviewing Within the Industry
This is typically the most preferable position for you. Because you’re interviewing with this company’s competitors, you can explain that they have some competition, and more importantly, you can relay that you’re very serious about landing a job in this specific field. Be honest, but also do not be afraid to show some partiality towards this employer’s company. You may say something such as, “I have a few interviews within this industry scheduled soon, but I am most excited about this job position.”
It is wise to then support this statement with a justification for this excitement. Ensure you go into your interview well-prepared; perform some research on the company beforehand. Then, incorporate this knowledge into your answer. For example, you can follow up by saying, “I am most excitement in this company’s opportunities for XYZ.” This shifts the focus of the conversation back onto this company, and further demonstrates your commitment towards earning the position.
If You’re Interviewing in Other Industries
This is a slightly less ideal position for you. You will want to go about answering this question strategically. You do not want to appear as though you are frivolously applying for this particular position. It is wise to somehow relate all of the positions to which you are applying in some manner. For instance, although all the positions differ greatly from field to field, you may connect them through the skills that are required for each.
For example, you may say something such as, “I am exploring my options throughout many industries, but I am very determined to land a job that will exhaust my leadership potential. Therefore, I have applied to many positions that all require great leadership skills.” In this case, you vaguely mention you are interviewing in other industries, but also demonstrate your decisions are not arbitrary. You are still interested in a very specific type of position.
Even though this particular situation might be difficult to incorporate effectively, it is very important you are not dishonest, as you never know when interviewers communicate with each other. It would be very detrimental to be confronted about a lie you told during an interview.
If This Is Your Only Interview
Although this situation might seem desirable, it is actually still very tricky. Again, you do not want to be dishonest, but you also do not want to outright claim you are only interviewing with this company. It is wise to explain that you are interested in many opportunities, and that you are keeping your options open. For instance, you might elect to say, “I am very interested in many opportunities related to this position. I am keeping my options open, and researching many different companies.” In this case, you keep the focus on you and your interests, you do not lie, and you essentially create the illusion of competition to your employer. You implicitly assert that you considering this process meticulously. Even if you are very determined to land this one particular job, you do not want to give the interviewer an excessive amount of power.
Overall, it can be seen that answering this type of interview question heavily depends on the circumstances of your situation. Nonetheless, there are general strategies you should employ regardless of where you stand. Ensure you are well-informed about the company, and ensure you create a power balance between you and the employer. As always, remember to maintain professionalism throughout your response.