Tough Interview Questions: Have You Applied Elsewhere?

There are two sets of circumstances where you might be asked this question.  Number one, if you’re an active job hunter. Number two if you’re not actively looking.

In the case of not actively looking, it’s asked as a trap question. After all, in an employer’s mind, the active job hunter is not as desirable as the one who’s not actively looking.

So if they’re asking you if you’re actively looking or have applied elsewhere and they found you on a job board for example, “Yes, I’m speaking to a couple of firms,” or “I’m talking to a few different organizations with similar types of roles to yours,” and you don’t answer the question. That’s because one of the ways they assess a potential hire is by who you’re talking with.

So if you talk about a prestigious organization and they aren’t one, they always think your preference is going to be the prestigious firm. If you’re interviewing with a firm that is not procedures and they are, they think less of you. So, don’t answer the question directly.

If you’re a passive job hunter (someone who is not actively looking for work but is open to changing jobs for the right opportunity), simply respond by saying, “No, I’m not actively looking. Remember you came to me to talk with me about this role,”

The reason is if they can categorize you as an active job hunter, you’re less desirable to them. It makes no sense as to why but this is their thinking and their behavior.

So the idea is always, in the first case, to duck the answer. In the second case, remind them because they’ve forgotten that they reached out to you.


Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020 



Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff 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, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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