You've got an interview coming up, and the prospect of a new job is exciting. But then they ask, "What other companies are you interviewing with?” It’s been tossed around in your head for a while. What should you say? Should you lie to them? Should you tell the truth? Or should you only admit to the company where you’re most excited about interviewing with? This is a seemingly harmless question that will determine whether or not you get a job offer. Here are a few tips on how to answer this question.
WHY INTERVIEWERS ASK "WHAT OTHER COMPANIES ARE YOU INTERVIEWING WITH?”
- Timing: Interviewers ask what other companies you’re interviewing with because they want to know generally how your job search is going and where in the interview timeline you are with other companies. For instance, if you are already in the final interview stage for another company, the interviewer would like to know so they can speed up the process of getting you an offer.
- Relevance: Interviewers ask this question to determine how focused you are in your job search. For instance, they want to see that you have a target job, in which you are applying for one exact role across companies rather than a plethora of unrelated positions. If you only seek the same one position in a target industry, then the interviewer will know that you are serious about the role you’re applying for.
- Soft Skills: Interviewers ask about other companies to see where you fall in interpersonal competence. If you mutter or trip and fall over your words in response to this awkward interview question, your interviewer will give you a low rating on your communication skills and confidence. Meanwhile, if you deliver a concise, focused answer then your interviewer will be impressed with your soft skills.
4 STEPS TO ANSWERING THIS QUESTION
- When answering this question, be confident. A confident attitude shows the interviewer that you are content with how your job search is going. Otherwise, you risk seeming desperate or like you’re panicking. Just take a breath and stay calm.
- Though it is implied in the question, know not to actually name-drop other companies. It’s definitely counterintuitive, but instead of replying to this question with a list of companies, describe the industry, types of companies, and job responsibilities you are seeking out. For instance, instead of saying “I’m interviewing with Recruiting from Scratch” say “I’m interviewing with staffing agencies like yours who have open roles for technical recruiters who specialize in hiring top senior software engineers.”
- Tell the interviewer that you are interested in roles very similar to the role you are applying for. This will show your interest in the industry that the company is in and make you a serious candidate.
- Tie up your answer by bringing it back to why you are interested in the company at hand, specifically. Use your job search as a way to emphasize your seriousness about the position since it is your current job goal.
3 THINGS TO AVOID
- Even if it’s true, don’t tell the interviewer that you are not applying for roles elsewhere. Instead tell them, “It’s still early in my job search.”
- Never lie and boast that you’ve gotten several interviews at top firms to try to impress the interviewer. This lie isn’t worth the risk of the interviewer finding out.
- Don’t name specific companies.
Want more interview prep? Check out our posts on:
Interview prep for Founding Engineers
How to answer the interview question, what do you bring to the company
How to talk about a career change
How to talk about your long-term career goals
For other interview tips, check out our other posts on interviewing on the blog.