One of the questions I receive quite often from people I work with is whether or not they should talk about other interviews while they are interviewing with a potential employer. Let me emphasize one thing: This is one of the more important questions you will ever be asked in an interview. Regardless of your qualifications, how you respond to this question will have a direct bearing on whether or not you receive an offer from the employer. Be very careful how you answer it.
At the outset, it’s important to point out you don’t have to answer this question. This question won’t be asked very often. Indeed, it’s my opinion that this question is inappropriate. In no instance should you even volunteer this information unless you are asked. The problem is that if you are asked this question, you will look bad if you refuse to answer it. Not answering the question gives the employer the impression you will similarly “hide the ball” when working for them. It also doesn’t do much to assist you in establishing a bond of trust, empathy, and understanding with the potential new employer. Therefore, it’s my opinion that his question must be answered if asked. There are two important rules you must keep in mind when answering this question.
First, you need to understand most employers are unlikely to give you offers unless they think you are their first choice employer. There are certainly exceptions when employers make offers to people who they don’t think are their first choice employers. As a general rule, though, if an employer believes you are their first choice, you will be better off. Because I’m a legal recruiter, I see instances all the time when attorneys go to work for law firms that initially weren’t their first choice. Many firms are very good at recruiting and can convince most people to join their firm when they extend offers—even in the face of competing offers. Nevertheless, for the most part, an employer wants to believe you are their first choice and the majority of the time this will have a direct bearing on whether an offer is extended.
Second, how you justify why you are interviewing with the other employers will also have a direct bearing on whether or not the employer makes you an offer. In addition to knowing you’re their first choice, employers also want to know you are likely to remain with them after joining. They also want to know why they are the best fit among potentially competing offers. Furthermore, the employer wants assurances that he is not making a mistake on you. How you justify where else you are interviewing will have a direct impact on your potential success in terms of getting an offer.
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