Why do hiring managers ask, “Are you interviewing with other companies?”

By Jack J. Kelly


When you step back and look at the interview process from afar, many things are peculiar. We understand and accept the fact that the hiring managers need to ask certain questions to determine if you possess the required knowledge and would be a good, cultural fit for the company. It is odd, however, that hiring managers feel comfortable asking invasive questions. For example, asking an applicant, “Where else are you interviewing?” seems a little pushy.


You are interviewing for this job right here, right now. What difference does it make to the hiring manager if you have other interviews? Presumably, the company wants to hire the best and brightest. “A” players should be in high demand by both their current firm and other companies. It seems reasonable to believe that a top candidate who is interviewing with you would also have other options and opportunities open to them.


The question could be designed as a way to find out what their competitors are up to. Are they also in the market for similar people? The hiring manager could also be gauging if you have other offers. If you do, then your value increases and the company will have to make a significant offer to get you aboard. If you don’t have anything else going on, the company will not make as large of an offer to you. Why should they, the company believes,  since there is no other competition for your services?


Also, if you don’t have other interviews and suitors, the hiring managers feel that they can take their time, as there is not an immediate need to quickly fast-track you through the interview process. Without pressure of losing you to another firm, they can take their sweet time. The longer the process takes, your chances diminish as the company feels that they have time to meet other applicants.


It’s a delicate dance. If you don’t say that you are interviewing, the offer could be lower. If you say that you have other interviews, it could look like you are shopping around.


The best course of action is being honest. It’s too hard to make up interviews and remember your stories. If you are interviewing, be direct.  You don’t want to make it seem that you are interviewing everywhere, as that dilutes your value as you will be perceived as a window shopper. Also, you don’t want to come across like this is your only interview or you are desperate for the job.  You want to have bargaining power, so they feel some pressure to move quickly and will give you a higher offer to entice you to forsake another offer.


Here is what to do:  If you are interested in the job, but also interviewing with other companies, tell them that you have several other opportunities that have been brought to your attention. You could add that while you have not been actively looking for a new job, due to your reputation within your industry, you have been sought out by these companies. While the other positions seem interesting, you are very excited and interested in this specific role. Briefly cite the reasons why you are interested in the job and reiterate why your skills, experience and other attributes make you appropriate for the job.


Let’s say that you don’t have anything else going on. You could then tell the hiring manager that, “I am not actively looking, but this position seems very interesting and I am very excited about the opportunity.” You can then walk the manager through all the reasons why the job is of interest and how your experience makes you a perfect fit. You can add that your current company values you very much, would be surprised and disappointed if you were to leave.


It may be a nice touch to add, “Although I am not looking for a counter offer, I’m sure that my firm would try hard to keep me. I can assure you that this opportunity is great, and if you were to provide a competitive offer, you would not entertain a counter offer.”  This will let the company know that you are interested, but your current firm is also interested in you too. It will raise the specter of a chance of losing you to your current company. They will feel the need to move a little more quickly and make a strong offer.


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