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Job interviews are incredibly nerve-wracking – and a sudden unexpected question can throw anyone off guard.
Although answering the question “Are you interviewing anywhere else?” is, in theory, more straightforward than the likes of “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”, it can be tricky to know how much (or how little) you should reveal to an employer.
If you’re not interviewing anywhere else, does that decrease your value? And if you reveal every detail of companies and roles you’ve been applying to, are you breaking any rules?
Scroll straight to the bottom of the page to see a quick, summary video of how to answer!
In a high-pressure interview situation, it can be hard to gauge what you should or shouldn't say - but why do employers choose to ask where else you are interviewing in the first place?
Employers want to know what stage you're at in your job hunt to confirm that you’re serious about getting a job, and to determine their own timeline.
If they like you, and they discover you are already interviewing for graduate jobs elsewhere, it’s likely they will speed up the decision-making process in order to beat their competition.
On the flip side, if they’re unsure about whether you’re quite right for the role, and they know you're already interviewing with other companies, they may decide to take a step back and take a little more time to assess your application.
Employers want to know that you are genuinely interested in their particular industry, and that their company fits in to what you are looking for long-term.
If you’ve been applying for graduate jobs everywhere from FinTech startups to advertising agencies, they will draw the conclusion that you are not particularly interested in their market, and that you’re unlikely to be committed to this position and company.
Sometimes, the question isn't even really about you. Employers will often ask where else you are interviewing to do some market research, and find out which companies in their sector are currently hiring people like you.
They could just be looking to determine how they stack up against their competitors - however, if they know that rival companies are looking for similar candidates, this may affect their salary offer (working either in your favour, or against it!), how willing they will be to negotiate, and how quickly they make a final decision.
If you are interviewing for a range of different roles in a range of different sectors, we would suggest that when asked this interview question, you only discuss those that are most similar, or require the same skills.
There is no issue in holding back some information about positions you have applied for if you do not think it is relevant. Here is an example, to provide you with some inspiration for your answer:
“I’m interviewing for several job opportunities, which all focus on activities relating to employees. Although I have kept an open mind when applying for graduate jobs, I am more drawn towards HR because I feel that I would enjoy the satisfaction of helping others, like me, find a job that they are suited to and truly enjoy.”
If you are currently interviewing for similar companies and even their competitors, this is a very good position to be in.
It is also good to be honest and open about where you have interviewed and any upcoming interviews (providing they are relevant to the role you are applying for!) This will enable you to speak more freely, in a less scripted and robotic manor when answering this common interview question.
“I have had an interview with ‘We Are Recruitment’ last week and I have two interviews coming up with ‘Quick Jobs’ and ‘Give A Grad A Go’, all for HR Assistant positions. Based on the job descriptions for each of these, I have been most excited about this interview, as the role entails many different responsibilities and challenges which I am keen to help you overcome.”
If you are not comfortable revealing the companies you have interviews for, perhaps re-word your answer to this:
“So far I have had one interview already and got two interviews in the pipeline for HR Assistant positions at similar Recruitment Agencies to yours.”
If the interviewer then proceeds to ask you specifically which companies these are, you can respond:
“I’d rather not share the company’s names, I prefer not to in interviews and I will not share your name in any other interview either, I hope that’s ok?”
If it is a recruitment company that you are speaking to, it will be different in this case. They are likely to be asking to ensure that there is no overlap with their clients.
Plus, it would not be time efficient for you or them if they send your CV to these employers who you are already be in contact with.
“Are you applying for other jobs?” can be a very off-putting question if you are not currently interviewing elsewhere. Instead of the lack of interviews being portrayed in a negative way,
it is a good idea to state that it is still early on in the job application process for you, or that you haven’t yet found the right job role, but this role ticks all your boxes! Here’s an example answer to help:
“I am still just at the start of my job search at the moment and this is my first interview, but the kinds of the roles I have been applying for are all within HR, which is what I am really passionate about and would love to pursue.”
Realistically, you’re not going to get in trouble for spilling details of the graduate jobs and companies you have been interviewing for – but be careful about what information you choose to disclose, especially if it’s one you think might be a favourite.
Instead of dishing out information on every company you’ve been interviewing for, try speaking in more vague terms – i.e. “Yes, I’ve had a couple of interviews so far, all with FinTech companies, and they have confirmed to me that it’s definitely the industry I want to work in!”
It is important not to ramble in an interview, your answers should be clear and concise.
Especially if you’re a new graduate, this question can really put you on the spot – but the worst thing you can do is start panicking and become flustered.
Not only is this likely to affect your performance throughout the rest of your interview, but it may ruin the self-assurance and professionalism you have shown so far.
Remember that you don’t have to disclose anything you don’t want to – and you can show how composed you are by providing an answer that is a bit more ambiguous.
Employers will not penalise you for asking for a minute or two to mentally prepare your response, read our blog for more tips on how to relax before a job interview.
It's the case with every job interview question – but lying about whether you have been interviewing elsewhere, or exaggerating how far along the process you are, is a bad idea on every front.
In today's digital age, it’s perfectly feasible that an employer would contact a company that you said you interviewed at on LinkedIn – leaving you with a lot to answer for when they reply saying they've never heard your name before.
Don’t risk getting caught in a lie!
It is important to familiarise yourself with the alternative ways that this question can be asked in an interview, so as not to be thrown off guard!
In a high-pressure graduate job interview, the best approach is to stay calm, be truthful about where you are interviewing (without revealing every detail!), and most of all, emphasise to the employer just how interested you are in their particular company and industry. Read our complete guide to Interview Questions!