A friend recently shared his perspective on a recent interview experience. He was particularly unsure of how to correctly answer the question of, “are you interviewing with others and do you have any offers?”
Used to gauge interest
This question is theoretically trying to gauge your interest in the job, your competitiveness as a candidate and your level of commitment to the company. As both an interviewer and interviewee, I hate this question. By asking this question, this way, the interview quickly becomes awkward and uncomfortable.
Specifically, as an interviewer, I know I’m not getting the answer to the question I really want to ask, which is, “if we think you’re the best person for the job are we possibly going to lose you to another organization.”
Since I seem to be in the minority in this space and interviewers almost add this on as an afterthought to all interviews, my traditional answers are below. Now, obviously, this is career field dependent and there may be other factors involved, so take that into consideration when reviewing my usual answers.
If I am interviewing with other companies, I usually say something like, “My skills and experience are sought after and I am engaged in the interview process with a few other organizations. Ultimately, I’m looking for the best fit for my career goals in a supportive organization that has room for me to continue to grow as a leader and advance my skills.” You may want to bring it back to this particular position by customizing the bolded words if the interviewer asks this question to gauge how quickly they need to move in an offer to you. Use the other clues from the interview and any timeline they discussed.
On one hand, this response lets you indicate you are competitive and may make you more desirable to the interviewer and organization but it could also backfire, which is why I also advise to never lie.
If I am not interviewing with other companies, my typical answer is, “I am actively seeking an opportunity that aligns with my career goals in a supportive organization that has room for me to continue to grow as a leader and advance my skills.” Again, customize the bolded words as you can to bring it back to the position and organization.
I hope this helps!
When asking questions of the interview, find a way to ask a question along the lines of how important it is to you that this role be taken by someone with [skill you have such as eye for details, ability to manage multiple projects, etc.], ideally before the interview asks about other interviews.
Here’s what I have used in the past:
Thank you very much for considering me for the position of [position] with the [Organization]. After careful consideration of the responsibilities and time requirements [or other two elements that may not make this a good fit] as indicated in the interview, I would like to withdraw my application for the job. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to interview me and to share details about the position and the mission and goals for the [Organization]. I wish you luck in finding the right person for the position.
How you respond to the interviewer or recruiter asking for more information is completely up to you. I’ve provided additional detail in some instances and not in others. How you respond depends on what the interviewer or recruiter is asking and if ensuring the relationship needs to be positive (because for example, the community is small and you might run into them regularly, the person is very well known in the field or you might be interested in another position with the company in the future).
If you get a burned bridge response and you don’t need to keep the relationship positive, count your lucky stars you did not continue in the process as the company has revealed quite a bit about how they work with employees.