Picture this: you’re in the middle of a job interview, and you’re nailing all the predictable questions like “Why did you leave your last job?” and “Why should we hire you?” But then, they ask a question you least expected: “What other companies are you interviewing with?”
Why would an employer ask that?
In general, employers are not asking this question to test your commitment to them. In fact, your answer shouldn’t be “this is the only company I’m interviewing with.” They ask this question because they want to understand your interests. Are you looking for a specific field or industry? Are you interested in growing in a certain area? Your answer will give them more insight into why you’re applying for their position.
There are essentially three ways to answer this question.
You’re interviewing with direct competitors
You wouldn’t interview with two competing airlines unless there was something about the airline industry that excited you. If you’re comfortable, explain which companies you’ll be interviewing with but put an emphasis on why you’re most interested in their position.
I was very interested in putting my customer service skills to work in the fast-paced travel industry so I have a few interviews lined up with Mahalo Airlines and Hibiscus Airlines over the next week. However, I’m especially excited about your company’s mission to deliver the spirit of aloha to everyone you come in contact with. Your values and mission align perfectly with what I’m looking for in a long-term employer.
You’re interviewing in other industries
Focus on your field of interest. If you’re applying to an engineering firm, a legal office, and a nonprofit organization, highlight the type of job you’re going for. Then, explain why you think this company may be the one.
I’m interviewing in a variety of industries right now, but my main focus is getting a role where I can develop my marketing career. I chose a wide range of industries because I wanted to leave myself open to companies that have social media and advertising projects. So far it seems like your company’s senior marketing specialist role has everything I’m looking for.
You’re not interviewing anywhere else
That’s fine, but steer clear of making it sound like you’re lazy or putting all your eggs in one basket. Remember, you want to sound confident and valuable while still remaining honest and open. Instead of saying you’re not interviewing with another company, explain what you’ve done so far and what you’re going for.
I’m still pretty early on in my job search so I’ve applied with a few companies for entry-level accounting roles but this is my first interview. I’m really excited about the position you have available as an Accounting Assistant. It’s the perfect opportunity to utilize my organizational skills and attention to detail to ensure the department is running at top speed.
Preparing for a big interview?
Here are tips for answering some of the other common, but challenging interview questions: