We recently asked you what your most hated interview questions were. Here we share our tips on how to answer them. For answers to the other questions, check out the series links at the bottom of this post.
3. What other jobs have you applied for?
Apparent, this question is dreaded because it is like being asked how many people you’ve dated. Talking about all the jobs you have applied for might sound desperate and unappealing. But you don’t want to seem like nobody else is interested in you, or that you lack ambition and drive.
Other variations on this question include how many other jobs who are interviewing at, or which other companies you are interested in. Especially if you are being asked these questions at the end of an interview, or in a second interview, it is likely the employer is interested and trying to find out just how interested you are in the job and whether it will be a fight to get you in the role. Inevitably, when you get a job offer, there is a moment when the power balance tips, and suddenly the cards are in your hands as to whether you want the job or want to accept it under the terms you are being offered it. This question sometimes signifies that moment.
It’s not a guarantee though, and there are other reasons why you might be asked about other job prospects. The interviewer might want to know whether you truly are interested in the specific field they represent – if you tell them you have cast a wide web across different types of career options, you will come across as seeming uncommitted, so it’s best to avoid that. If you have not applied for other jobs, be honest and say it is the start of your job search, or you are only looking for really special opportunities – and go on to say why you feel so suited to this one. Never make up interest from other labs or companies – especially if you work in a small field – as the interviewer might know their peers there and find out the truth. As with relationships, don’t make yourself sound overly available, by stating you have applied for a plethora of jobs. If you do have a serious offer from another company that you will need to decide on imminently, mention it now – so this interviewer knows the position you are in.
Overall, the best bet is to to say that you have had interest from other companies or organisations in the sector without mentioning names, but that this is the job that has really caught your eye – and go on to explain why and why it is such a good fit with you. And just like dating, even if you are the most coveted candidate, don’t behave as if you are doing them a favour by spending your time in their company.