The details of your job search are for you to know–that is, until an inquisitive hiring manager asks you point blank, “What other companies are you interviewing with?” This question can throw even the most experienced candidates off their game.
We’ll explain why interviewers ask such a probing question and how best to answer it if you want to stay in the running for the job.
Why do interviewers ask where else you’re interviewing?
Hiring is a bit of a game in that companies want to win the candidate that all the other companies wish they had. So, an interviewer is looking to find out how competitive you are. If they hear that you’ve got a list of other interviews lined up, they might conclude that you obviously have the right skills for the job and bump you onto their shortlist.
Understanding where else you’re interviewing also helps hiring managers to figure out how fast they need to move. If you’re their top choice, learning that you’re applying elsewhere could prompt them to speed up their decision and make you an offer more quickly than if their company is the only place you’re interviewing.
What interviewers are looking for when they ask about other potential employers
Interviewers aren’t just asking about your employment prospects to be nosy. They want to understand where you’re at in your job search so they can ensure their hiring timeline makes sense.
They’re also looking for clues about the types of jobs you’re applying for. If you’re applying in several different fields, for example, it could indicate that you’re not as passionate about the role as someone only focused on only one industry.
There’s also a self-serving element to this question. Companies are always looking for intel on their competition. In asking this question, a hiring manager is doing market research on which candidates other top employers are talking with.
How to answer the question, “What other companies are you interviewing with?”
Giving a genuine answer can only help you as a candidate. If you are interviewing with other companies, it can show an interviewer that your skills are in demand. If you’re not interviewing with other companies, it’s a chance to highlight why you believe this job is the right one for you.
Speak in general terms
You don’t have to name names when discussing the other places you’re interviewing (though you certainly can if you want to!). It’s fine to give a broad answer, like “I have two other interviews scheduled with similarly sized employers in the industry.”
Emphasize your interest in this company
Steer your answer back to this particular company by explaining why you want to work there. You might give some background on why you were motivated to apply or which of their values stand out to you.
How not to answer
Employers want to hire people who are transparent and trustworthy. Giving an evasive answer to this question could negatively reflect your character. You don’t have to put it all out there, but it’s best to at least reveal some inkling of what’s going on in your job search.
Sample answers to “What other companies are you interviewing with?”
By giving your interviewer an honest and thoughtful answer about where you’re interviewing, you’ll establish yourself as a trustworthy candidate and give them important context in deciding how quickly to move forward.