How to answer “Are you interviewing with other companies?”
4 min read | Alex Shteingardt | Article | Interview advice
If you’re looking for a new role, it’s more than likely that you’ll be interviewing with several companies. (Author) discusses how to react if you’re ask about it at a job interview.
If you’re having multiple job interviews, it’s likely you will be asked if you are currently interviewing with other companies. In fact, it’s a common interview question. Although this is a seemingly simple question on one level, it can also feel loaded with inquisition.
However, it can be answered tactfully, comprehensively and easily when you adopt the right strategy. Here are some tips to help you answer.
How to answer whether you’re interviewing with other companies at a glance
- Interviewers ask this question to find out whether you’re genuinely interested in this role, and how in demand you are
- Make sure that the employer you’re speaking to know that they’re the priority
- Explain that you’re only applying for roles that match your skills, experience and ambitions
Why do interviewers ask this common interview question?
Before I go into how you can answer this question in a way that will position you positively, let’s explore why your interviewer would ask it:
- To gain validation that you are genuinely interested in the opportunity
- To see evidence that your job search is well-thought-out and focused
- To gauge whether or not you are interviewing with any of their competitors
- To help the interviewer understand how quickly they will have to move if they were to offer you the job
In order for you to answer the question both positively and strategically, I’ve put together the following dos and definitely don’ts.
How to answer: “Are you interviewing with other companies?”
When answering this common interview question, you need to make it clear that you are an in-demand, but also astute and well-organised candidate. Simply answering that you are interviewing with lots of other companies might lead the interviewer to perceive that you’ve just applied for every job you could find.
What to say:
- Your answer should convey that the company you are interviewing for is your number one choice
- Pivot the conversation towards what you are looking for in your next job – this will bring the focus onto this role
- Keep things general. If you have several interviews lined up, it’s okay to say so. Explain that you’re actively exploring your options, but this is the position you’re most excited about
- If you happen to have already received a job offer, don’t hide it. Again, by keeping things general, you can show that you are already in demand, but are more focused on what’s on offer in the number one position you’re interviewing for
What not to say:
- Remember that you are not required at any point to give away specific details about other employers you are interviewing for; as Forbes contributor Liz Ryan has put it, “you don’t have to name names”. That includes the names of the employers, whether or not they are competitors, job titles, or when the interviews take place
- However, at no point should you exaggerate either the scale of your job search or your progress in the interview process. This simply isn’t worth your own peace of mind, as employers have the capability to cross-check most information you provide them with
“I have a couple of interviews coming up soon with other firms. I was attracted to these roles because of the particularly strong emphasis that they place on X skills, and the opportunity they would give me to further develop my skills in Y. However, based on what I know, this vacancy is an especially great match, offering precisely the challenges that I am seeking at this stage of my career.”
“Which specific companies are you interviewing with?”
Many interviewers won’t probe your answer any further. However, some may ask for more information about the other companies. In this case, try to answer the question tactfully, without revealing any information you’d prefer to keep to yourself.
“The other companies I’m interviewing for are, like yours, leading names in the X sector. They have also advertised similarly appealing roles in Y, and as my ambition is to reach the position of Z in the future, I decided to apply for the most exciting roles that would help me to achieve this goal within the industry.”
What to say if this is the only company you are interviewing with
If you’ve applied for a number of roles and this is the only one that has progressed to the interview stage, you shouldn’t relay this information to the interviewer. Instead:
- You could explain that you are selectively applying for specific roles. This is the first role you’ve come across that you are genuinely interested in and think could be a good fit for your skills, experience and potential
- Alternatively, you could simply explain that you have just started your job search
“As I’m specifically interested in positions like this one, I have applied exclusively to the role you have advertised. While I’ve certainly looked for other positions, this is the first and only job I’ve found that would allow me to not only apply my skills in X, but also expand upon my experience in Y and develop my potential and interest in Z. I will consider any similar positions I see advertised, but for now my interest is in this role.”
What you need to remember about answering this common interview question
As I’ve said, you don’t need to reveal every detail of your job search. However, nor do you need to give an answer that doesn’t really answer the interviewer’s question, or might even give the impression you have little interest in the role.
Instead, your answer must work to position you as an ideal and already-in-demand candidate who may very well get snapped-up quickly by other companies. Essentially, this is exactly what the interviewer wants you to be, and every question they ask you – including these extra-tricky ones – is asked to give you the chance to prove it.
About this author
Alex joined Hays plc in 2008 with a sole aim of launching the operations of the leading global recruitment company on the Russian market. By attracting some of the key people in the industry Hays operations doubled year on year. Currently, we are expanding teams, both in terms of functional recruitment areas (i.e. Accountancy & Finance, Internal IT etc.) and in terms of industry expertise (i.e. Oil & Gas, Resources and Mining). Alex graduated in economics from the Russian State Academy of National Economy. He started his career in 1996 as a Project Executive for an international engineering company. His career in the company developed for over 8 years, and he reached the role of Managing Director of the Russian subsidiary. In 2003 Alex joined a well-known European retailer to launch their operations in Russia. He later began his career in executive search and recruitment with a Pan-European executive search consultancy.