How to Answer the Interview Question: “Where Else Have You Applied To?”
How to Answer the Interview Question: “Where Else Have You Applied To?”

How to Answer the Interview Question: “Where Else Have You Applied To?”

It may seem like an odd question for an employer to ask an applicant during an interview, but the interview question "Where else have you applied to?" is quite common.

The question may be phrased in several different ways.

For example, the interviewer may ask you: "Which other companies have you interviewed with?", "What other interviews have you attended recently?" or even: "What other jobs have you applied for?"

Essentially, the employer is seeking to find out specific information about your job search, career intentions and the job market.

Therefore, it is important that you know how to answer the question 'Where else are you interviewing?'.

Why Do Employers Ask This Question?

In many respects, the interview question "Where else have you applied to?" could feel a little left field. However, it is not designed to trip you up or make you feel awkward.

If you put yourself in the employer's shoes, there are some very logical reasons why they may want to know what other companies you are interviewing with.

Let's examine the most obvious reasons:

To Find Out How Your Job Search Is Going

If you are asked what other companies you are interviewing with, the employer is looking to understand how in-demand you are.

For example, if you say that you have been invited to the second round of interviews at another company, this tells them that you are a sought-after applicant.

To Decipher Industry Demand

By asking you the interview question "Where else have you applied to?" the employer gets a good gauge on industry demand.

For example, if you have only applied for, maybe one or two similar job roles covering quite a large geographic area, this tells the employer that there are perhaps more candidates than jobs.

However, if there is a wide selection of similar roles for you to choose from, it signifies a far more competitive employment landscape.

For Their Timeline

By inviting you to reveal more about other potential job opportunities, the employer can determine the sense of urgency.

For example, if they know you have an upcoming interview in a week, they may decide on your appointment before then to save you being 'poached'.

To Understand Your Career Ambitions

Unless you have applied for an extremely niche role, the employer will expect you to say that you have applied for more than just the role they have on offer.

By inviting you to expand on the interview question "Where else have you applied to?" they hope to glean more about how you make career choices.

Therefore, when you respond, make sure you reference why you applied for another role.

Explain the purpose behind your application – how does it align with your overall career goals?

After all, employers are looking for someone who knows what they want to achieve in their chosen career.

To Give You the Opportunity to Express How You Feel About Them

Another reason why an employer may ask you what other companies you are interviewing with is that they want to know how they compare to other employers.

They are looking for the right verbal and body language cues to indicate that you favor them.

This will give them a strong indication of your likelihood of accepting the job should you be offered it.

What Employers Are Looking for in Your Answer

Employers want to see that you are focused on your job search so that you do not just take a scatter-gun approach in the hope that you land an interview.

How targeted you are and how you research the companies you would like to work for is a testament to how you would perform as an employee.

Saying to an employer, "I have applied for five roles in the past month, all of which have been comparable positions with a view to progressing my career," sounds much better than: "I have sent my CV off to over 50 companies in the hope that I secure an interview".

How to Answer the Interview Question: “Where Else Have You Applied To/Been Interviewed At?”

In some ways, your answer to the interview question "Where else have you applied to?" will largely depend on your industry.

If your industry is exceptionally niche, you may only have interviewed at one other organization.

If, however, you are looking for a job in a high-growth area such as data analytics or robotics, you may well have applied for more positions.

The interviewing employer will understand this, but how do you answer where else are you interviewing? Is there a right or wrong way?

In short, there are a few basic principles worth remembering, and these are:

Step 1. Consistency

You will want to explain that you are looking for comparable roles that offer similar career opportunities.

Therefore, make sure you draw attention to how the roles are similar and why they align with your career goals.

Step 2. Identify the Common Thread

The role you have applied for may not be in the same industry as previous applications. This does not matter, provided you can identify the common thread.

For example, perhaps both jobs allow you to maximize your technical skills.

Maybe they offer an excellent graduate training program or possibly a chance to work internationally.

Whatever the common thread is, it will show the employer that you are clear in what you want from a job.

Step 3. Talk About Upcoming Opportunities

If this is your first interview, you may choose to answer the 'Where else are you interviewing?' question in a slightly different way (more on this in a moment).

You could, for example, mention the companies you have applied to and are waiting to hear back from or speak about your intended strategy.

Step 4. Show Enthusiasm for the Job

This is the most crucial point to remember. As far as the employer is concerned, you have attended their interview because you want to work for their organization and not another.

Therefore, try to tapper the enthusiasm you have for other positions and channel it into how you describe the role you are in the interview for.

For example, you may choose to say that you interviewed well for a position at a rival firm, but you prefer the career prospects on offer here.

Step 5. Watch Your Body Language

Remember, it is not just what you say that matters. If you are saying one thing, but your body language depicts something else, an employer will pick up on this.

Relax into your answer and remind yourself that the employer is simply intrigued.

The more comfortable you feel, the better your answer will be.

How to Answer the Interview Question: “Where Else Have You Applied To?”
How to Answer the Interview Question: “Where Else Have You Applied To?”

Example Answers to “Where Else Have You Interviewed?“

You Are Being Proactive in Your Search for the Ideal Job Role and Have Applied for Several Roles

After spending a good couple of months researching the companies I would like to work for, I am at various stages in the interviewing process. For me, both professionally and personally, it is important that I accept a role that's not only a perfect fit for my skills but where I can see myself fitting in with the team.

Notice that the answer above leaves the interviewer with a positive feeling that you consider others and are a team player.

You Are Interviewing at Different Types of Organizations, Yet Need to Demonstrate a Common Thread

I am interviewing at several technology companies, all of which are established in their field yet want to break new ground in terms of R&D. I have been applying for positions that enable me to be part of an exciting product development journey. In addition, I want to be able to turn around to my children in years to come and tell them what I designed.

This Is Your First Interview

If this is your first interview, you will have to reframe your answer to the interview question "Where else have you applied to?" as in the example below:

In returning to work after a career break to raise my children, this is my first interview in my job search. I understand the importance of taking a targeted approach so that when I accept a position, I know that I will be a great match and excel in my role. Therefore, I am attracted to roles that enable me to work collaboratively with others in an account management setting.

You Are Sure You Are Going to Be Offered a Role Somewhere Else

I am in the last stage of discussions with another company, and I expect the job offer to be finalized within the next five days. However, I am very interested in working here. I can see myself fitting in well with the team and very much enjoying the role.

Regardless at whatever stage you are in the hiring process, there's one thing that you must not forget, and that's to explain why you would accept the role, as below:

After reading about the role, hearing from you, and exploring your company in-depth, I can really see myself working here and adding value to your organization.

Things to Avoid in Answering “Where Else Are You Interviewing?“

Several things are a big no-no when answering the interview question "Where else have you applied to?" and these are:

Saying the Interview Is Your Only One

Even if it is your only interview, it's best not to say so. As in the example above, reframe your answer to explain the types of roles you are focusing on.

Giving Specific Details

Unless an employer pushes you on certain points, it is best to hold back certain information.

For example, it is not a good idea to share the names of the other companies you have had an interview with.

Exaggerating the Truth

Be very truthful with your answer.

An employer will sense straight away if you are disingenuous. Once they suspect this, you might as well wave goodbye to a job offer.

Coming Across as Flustered

Although the question is probing, try to remain calm and collected.

Take a breath and think logically about your answer and keep to the facts.

Final Thoughts

Take a brief pause before you answer if needs be, and try to enjoy the experience. This interview question is as much an opportunity for you as it is for the employer.

While hiring managers can be a little demanding when wanting to know more about other offers you have on the table, remember that you do not have to give everything away.

You can always say: "Since an offer has not yet been confirmed, I'd rather not say."

If you are the right candidate for the role, an employer will respect your response and be left with the feeling that you are someone who carefully considers their actions.

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