When hunting for your next job opportunity, you should apply and interview with multiple companies. But how candid should you be when a hiring manager asks you about their competition in a job interview?
The good news: If you’re asked whether you are interviewing with other companies, the employer is likely signalling a strong interest in hiring you.
“In my experience, this question is usually a positive sign because that means I’m already interested. If I’m not interested in you, I don’t care if you’re interviewing with someone else,” said Rob Cancilla, a senior director at the recruiting firm Hunt Club.
Being honest can help speed up the interview process and lead to more job offers. But there’s a tactful way to answer this question to be sure that the person asking doesn’t assume you have a lack of interest in the role.
When asked about other possibilities, be honest about offers and final interviews. It makes you a more attractive candidate.
Jackie Cuevas, a nonprofit human resource administrator who has worked as a recruiter, recommends being transparent if you are interviewing elsewhere. If a company really likes you, then it can spur decision-makers to move more quickly to get you on the team, she said.
You can answer by saying something like, “Right now, I have finished final interviews with three companies. They said they would let me know within the next couple of weeks,” Cuevas said.
If you are not close to final interviews with anyone, you could say something like, “Yeah, I am actively applying to opportunities. I am just ready for that next chapter in my life,” she said.
“You kind of create a little bit of FOMO.”
Of course, when you mention other job interviews, you want to make it clear to the employer that their role is a priority.
One way you can do this is by casually saying, “I have been fortunate, and I’m actually engaged with a lot of conversations. Want you to know, though, from everything we’ve talked about, that this is the role that I’m most interested in,” Cancilla said.
By mentioning other roles and your active interest in the company, “you kind of create a little bit of FOMO” ― fear of missing out ― “but then reinforce that... ‘Everything that I’ve heard to date makes me really excited about this opportunity at your company,’” Cancilla said.
Cuevas echoed that it’s key to tie your answer back to the current role you’re interviewing for because “no one wants to hear ‘I don’t want to work for you.’”
Do you have to name the other companies? Cancilla said that you don’t, unless you think naming a brand would make you a more attractive candidate.
It’s also OK if you don’t have multiple interviews in the works. Cancilla noted that if someone wasn’t interviewing elsewhere, he would not think, “Oh, this person isn’t good because nobody else is interviewing them.”
You don’t have to wait to be asked if you have other offers.
If you are not directly asked about other opportunities in a job interview, you can bring it up yourself when it might give you a tactical advantage.
Nadia De Ala, founder of Real You Leadership, a group coaching programme for women of colour, said it’s ideal for her clients to have multiple job offers they can leverage. One quick way to get an offer is to mention that you already have one.
“A previous client had one job offer she was extremely excited about but still wanted to see what was possible with another company that was moving slower in interviewing,” De Ala said. “We worked on a strategy for her to reach out to the recruiter of the second company, and she candidly explained her new timeline with her existing offer, building some urgency. She was able to expedite the interviewing process with this second company to go through final rounds within that same week to get a second offer, increasing her earning potential.”
Whether or not you bring it up first, mentioning the other interviews you’re having shows that you are a strong candidate.
“Being candid about this shows you’re hot and in demand, helps them prioritise you and can potentially streamline your interviewing process,” De Ala said.