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Recruiters often ask the question: "Did you also applied to other companies?"

And if the answer is positive they complete with: "If you were accepted everywhere, which company will you choose?"

How to answer when you did applied to multiple companies and this one is not your preferred choice? And how to answer when it's indeed you preferred one?

  • 3
    If it depends on the contract details, tell them so. If the company is nice, tell them they're in the top two. If the company is actually a fallback only, you'll have to get creative ... – pmf Oct 19 '17 at 8:22
  • Possible duplicate of How to reply to very broad and open ended interview questions – gnat Oct 19 '17 at 9:09
  • "The best one." – Erik Oct 19 '17 at 11:07
  • "the one who can ask a grammatical question" :-) – Neuromancer Oct 20 '17 at 15:23
  • Just say that's classified :-) – Neuromancer Nov 15 '17 at 20:52
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This sounds like one of those first-date questions:

If you could be anywhere in the world, where would you like to be?

The usual answer is

Right here, with you

The same could be said of this question, but that would invariably be the wrong answer (or one that shows the least amount of insight).

The question is really asking:

What do you need that we're not offering you?

This is your opportunity to speak about the pros and cons of your other candidate employers and describe what aspects you like and dislike about each one. This highlights the differences between where you're sitting now and the ideal.

It's up to you to make this a positive experience in your current interview in letting them know what you like about this company and where you'd like to be.

If you choose another company where the pros are radically different from your current interviewer's company, then it's an indicator to them that you might be a bad fit, and you will have talked yourself into rejection.

Use this question as a route into negotiation and as a way of letting them know what you like about this company.

  • 1
    Smart answer. I didn't get the purpose of the question at first glance. Turning things into "positive experience" is really a nice way to go. – Hubert Oct 20 '17 at 8:34
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"If you were accepted everywhere, which company will you choose?"

The best thing to do here not to say specifically which company you'd choose, or even which other companies you've applied to, but instead focus on how you'd choose among several offers. You can say that you'd consider all the aspects of each offer: salary, benefits, office culture, commute distance, potential for advancement, interesting projects, etc.; and that you'd choose the one that makes the most sense for you and your family. Be honest about the factors that you care about and what your priorities are — the recruiter may be asking in order to learn how to create an offer that you'll find compelling.

I'd avoid talking about the other places and positions to which you've applied. If they press you for that information, don't feel bad about deflecting with an answer like "I wouldn't have applied here unless I were really interested, so let's stick to talking about your company" or just "I'm not comfortable talking about that right now."

And how to answer when it's indeed you preferred one?

There really shouldn't be a difference between how you answer for the company you'd most like to work for and any other company. If you're not excited about the possibility of some position you've applied for, you probably shouldn't have applied in the first place.

This is a great opportunity to do all of the following:

  • Explain why you're interested in the job in question and what you like about the company.

  • Talk very briefly about what you think you can do for the company.

  • Say that you hope they're as interested in working with you as you are in working with them.

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    I agree - this question is really just a maskerade of "what are you looking for in a company?" or "what is your dream employer?" – HorusKol Oct 19 '17 at 22:01
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Agree with the other two answers: the question is not just "what is your dream company" but also "what is important to you and why". Be prepared, dive deep and offcourse tailor what you want to what you think they can offer - and a bit more.

I'd like to add one extra dimension: when they are talking about other companies, this is your chance to inject a bit of "pre-vetted status": other companies also want you, and you are in the third interview round - they'll subconsciously think you must be good since others want you too.

It also helps afterwards when negotiating compensation if they already know you have other interviews/offers.

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