Tough Interview Questions: Are You Actively Interviewing? |

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EP 1052 How do I answer when a recruiter asks me “Are you actively interviewing, and do you have any deadlines, pending offers, etc.?”

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How do you answer the question, "Are you actively interviewing?  

What are they really trying to find out?"

There are a few ways to answer this question based upon where you are in your job search.

If you have been out of work for 6 months and they asked this question, they are tossing you a lifeline. After all, if it is been 6 months that you've been out of work, they are thinking that there was something wrong with you. It gives you a chance to say, "I took a few months off. I never did that at any point in my life before that. The kids have grown up. I decided to take it a little easy.  It's time for me to get back to work."  That's the way to answer the question if there is been a period of time where you been out of work.

If They Recruited You . . .

Let's work with the assumption that they are recruiting you and they asked this question.  Then, the purpose of the question is very different than when asked of the person is been out of work for 6 months.

Here, they are trying to figure out whether (1) you are out interviewing and where you are in your job search. (2) I've had people who contacted me about position side advertised for, and they have 3 job offers and expect my client to jump through hoops to compete with those other offers in one day. after one meeting that lasts for 1 minute.

It doesn't work that way. You went out on a bunch of dates before you decide to get married, right? Employers are no different.

The implication for the person who was recruited and is asked this question is to figure out whether we were lucky enough to just find you and your background fits the job or did we stumble across someone who is actively interviewing and is been on 27 different interviews… You get the idea.

The correct way to answer if you have been on a few interviews is to say, "Yes, I have been on a few interviews recently."

"Where are you in your search?"

"I don't think I'm close to an offer. I have had firsts and seconds at a few places. Firms seem interested, but I don't have any offers yet and no one is talking to me like I am getting one yet. That's a good way to deflect the question.

Now, if you are close to an offer, from the recruiter's perspective, they are thinking, "Why should I invest time in this person when I not going to make any money or my client will take too long for this person and their timetable. I know this hiring manager can take a month to even decide to interview this person."  On and on and on.

From the standpoint of the employer-recruiter, based upon what they know of the hiring manager, they are trying to figure out whether they have the time to get you into the process and bring it to a successful end.

If you say something like, "I have a few things I seem to be on final rounds for but I don't have any job offers yet"

"What would keep you from accepting an offer from 1 of those firms?"

"Well, money, of course. After all, I'm not looking to take a lateral or less. If they offer too little, I'm not going to join."

"How much would you be looking for?"

"Well, that depends upon the opportunity. I obviously want to contribute to an organization . . . "

I'm trying to give you a sense of the flow of the conversation as you answer questions.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching and life coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1000 episodes,“ Job Search Radio,” “and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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