How To Answer “Where Else Are You Interviewing?”

By Maddie Lloyd - Jan. 20, 2021
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“So, what other companies are you interviewing with?”

This common interview question is really good at catching people off guard.

Your brain may go into a frenzy of other questions — Why are they asking? What should I tell them? How much do they need to know?

Are they stalking me?

Don’t panic!

This is actually a pretty simple interview question — one that you can answer without having to hurt your brain by thinking too hard.

When this question comes up, usually interviewers are curious about what other companies you have interviews with for a variety of reasons, none of which have to do with following you around.

Even though this is a pretty simple question, don’t get too comfortable. We’re here to help prepare for this question, give tips for what not to say, and provide sample answers to get you started.

What Interviewers Want to Know

In order to be prepared and give the best answer possible, it’s important to think about why the interviewer is even asking you this question in the first place.

Here are some things to consider:

  • The interviewer is interested. This question is often a sign that the interviewer likes you. They might being trying to figure out how in demand you are and how they compare to the competition.

    Interviewers want to know what their chances are of gaining an ideal employee.

  • What you want out of an employer. Interviewers might want to know how focused you are on furthering your career or how seriously you’re looking for a new job.

    They want to get a sense of your job hunt and exactly what it is you’re looking for in an employer.

  • How focused your job-hunt is. Employers typically want to hear that you’re looking at jobs in the same industry or industries that are fairly similar.

    If this is your only interview with an accounting firm, it’s probably best not to mention that your other job prospects are for testing potato chip crispness.

  • They want to know their timeline. The hiring process takes time, but if you’re expecting job offers soon (and they like you), the hiring manager(s) may speed up their decision-making process.

    Alternatively, they don’t want to waste too many resources on you if you’re likely to take another offer elsewhere.

  • They want to figure out how popular you are. That’s why it’s important to not sound like this is your only shot at a job. When you tell them you’ve got interviews all around town, they’ll take you more seriously.

    Just don’t lie to make yourself seem like more of a hot commodity than you really are (more on that later).

  • Informal check-up on the market. The company wants to know, regardless of you as a candidate, what the job market is like for this position. Are lots of competitors also hiring, or are they the only ones? This can have a serious impact on the salary you’re offered (if you get a job offer)

How to Answer “Where Else Are You Interviewing?”

It can be difficult to try to decide what you should bring up and what you should keep to yourself. Here are some tips for giving the best response:

  • Mention similar jobs. Talk about that you’re actively exploring a number of other jobs in the company’s industry and that you have other interviews lined up. It shouldn’t look like you’re just applying everywhere randomly.

  • Show enthusiasm for the job you’re interviewing for. Emphasize your excitement about the job you’re currently interviewing for. Always bring the conversation back to their specific position. Always talk about how your qualifications and accomplishments have set you up for success, wherever you end up. If this company you’re interviewing with is your top choice, definitely bring that up.

  • Clarify a theme. If you’re applying to jobs in different industries, try to find common characteristics of these jobs and make their connection the focus of your answer.

  • Be confident. You should always sound like your job search is going well and you have options. It’ll make it sound like your a competitive candidate that’s worth their time and consideration, not like they’re the only company who could possibly be interested in you.

  • Explain what you’re looking for. This is a chance for you to ask questions and put your interviewer in the hot seat; you’re a super marketable candidate, and they’d be lucky to have you. Now, what can this company offer you that all those other ones can’t?

Common Mistakes to Avoid

We’ve covered the best practices for approaching a response, but it’s equally important to explain what you shouldn’t say.

Avoid the following common mistakes when answering this interview question:

  • Don’t say this is your only interview. If this is the only interview you have lined up, don’t let them know that. Instead of talking about your lack of job prospects, tell the interviewer about the types of companies and positions you’ve been applying to.

  • Don’t lie. Don’t exaggerate about how many other interviews you have coming up. While the employer probably won’t check up on it, they can pretty easily. If they catch you in a lie, you’re not getting the job. Plus, let’s say they contact you to see if you got an offer from a competitor and want to talk about the specifics of their offer. You’ll look pretty silly or have to keep lying. Don’t let things get messy; just tell the truth.

  • Don’t disclose too much. Don’t state the names of specific companies you’re interviewing with. There’s really no reason to mention this. You have a right to some privacy. If they push for specifics, you can give them (if you’re comfortable doing so), but don’t go on about how great the other companies are.

  • Don’t sound frustrated or disappointed. Interviewers can pick up on it, and it’s not a good look. Sound confident instead, because that’s the type of employee the company wants to hire.

  • Don’t panic. If you get flustered answering this question, it won’t look like you can handle stress very well. Take a deep breath; you’re prepared for this question and ready to give a great response that makes you look good.

Sample Answers To “Where Else Are You Interviewing?”

If you have interviews lined up with companies within the same industry, a successful answer might sound something like these:

“I’m currently interviewing with several different companies in the media and broadcasting industry and I am at various stages with each of them, but I’m most excited to work here because of the opportunities for growth, the chance to learn new technologies, and the ability to get hands-on experience.”

Why It’s A Good Answer
This person has shown the interviewer that they’re a desirable candidate in their industry.

They have also shown their enthusiasm for the position by mentioning details of the job that excite them, which tells the interviewer that they’ve done research on the company.

If you have interviews coming up for jobs in different industries, a good answer might sound like this:

“I’m interviewing with a few different companies for a variety of positions, but it all comes down to writing content that is informative yet entertaining.

I am very open to different means of furthering my career, but based on my research, I feel that I could write really great content for you because of the topic and industry that you’re in.”

Why It’s A Good Answer
This answer hints that they have interviews with companies in other industries, but tells their interviewer that their main goal is to put out great content for the company. They have also shown interest by stating that they produce successful work because of their topic and industry.

If you have no other interviews on the horizon, you could say something along the lines of this:

“I’ve only recently started looking for jobs. So far, I’ve been looking into jobs that will allow me to use my skills as a strategic thinker and my degree in Mathematics.

I was very excited to have found this position, as I feel that my skill with numbers could help to streamline processes and automate analyses.”

Why It’s A Good Answer
This person has shown that they are excited for the position while also briefly mentioning their skills and qualifications.

Note how they were able to avoid sounding disappointed in their lack of interviews or looking desperate for a job.

Final Thoughts

Use your answer to this question to show the interviewer that you’re most interested in the job you’re currently interviewing for.

Employers want to hear that you’re interested in jobs similar to theirs. If you’re going for a retail position, try not to mention that your real goal is to be an astronaut.

It’s okay if you don’t have other interviews lined up, but don’t lie to make yourself look better.

Let them know that you’re excited to work with their company and talk about how you feel that you would be a great addition to their team.

You can be sure to hear back from the company for a second interview.

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Maddie Lloyd

Maddie Lloyd was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog focused on researching tips for interview, resume, and cover letter preparation. She's currently a graduate student at North Carolina State University's department of English concentrating in Film and Media Studies.

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