It is unlikely you applied for only one job. With hundreds of applicants applying to every position, sending your resume to only a single company is too risky a move. Chances are you sent your resume to any job that looked adequate, and are simply waiting to see if you get a call back.
Employers know this, and so they may ask you what other companies you have sent you resume to. This question is not a trap, but it is also not something you should answer haphazardly.
Purpose of the Question
As with all types of interview questions, this question does have a purpose. The goal of this question is to gauge the following of the applicant:
- Will the applicant admit that they have applied other places or provide a canned answer?
- Has the applicant put any thought into the types of companies they have applied?
- Does the applicant consider the company before they send their application?
As you can see, there are a lot of things that employers can learn about your candidacy depending on how you answer the question.
Never claim that you did not apply to other places. The employer will not believe you. You should always come prepared to answer with a few companies that the employer will be familiar with. Bad answers are also those that are somewhat rambling and do not have a clear purpose. For example:
“I have applied to a few companies. As you know I worked in marketing, so I applied to MarketTech Inc. and MakeRevenue, Inc. I also have some experience in psychology, so I applied to ReadUMind. There was also a job working in information systems that I was interested in.”
It’s not the length of this answer that is a problem. It is the different types of jobs. This answer makes it appear you have no clear focus, and that your goal is to find a job with anyone that will hire you.
“As you know I would like to work with direct marketing. Beyond your company I have also applied to DirectMarket Inc. as well as InYourMailMarketing for their open campaign management positions.”
This answer is more specific. You have applied to positions similar to the company you are interviewing with – possibly even competitors.
The company now sees that:
- You have an answer for this question.
- You have a real goal and you apply to jobs to reach that goal.
- If the company does not hire you, you may help one of their competitors succeed.
All of these benefit your chances of getting the job. You may not want to mention a direct competitor depending on how cutthroat the type of business, but you should mention extremely similar positions you applied for, where you will be performing the same tasks with roughly the same title.
Take Away Interview Tips
- Yes, say you applied to other companies.
- Make sure those companies/positions are related to the position you are currently applying for.