I am holding a scholarship right now that is co-founded by a company (say company A). In an interview I had recently with a competitor of this company (say company B), the interviewer asked my why I decided against applying for company A, given that I already know them from by scholarship, and for the one where I had the interview instead, i.e. company B.

I said something about the reputation of company B being better and that people I know who work in the field recommended me to apply for that one rather than the one that co-founds my scholarship. However, I was really unsure whether this was an appropriate answer. Since I might run into this/a similar situation again, I would like to ask what an appropriate response to such a questions would be in the following situations:

  1. If I did indeed not apply for company A, for whatever reason.
  2. If I did apply for company A, but ended up declining their offer.
  3. If I did apply for company A, but got a rejection.

EDIT: I edited the post in order the clarify which company was which

  • 1
    Did you work for the host company?
    – Bluebird
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 23:13
  • You mean the company I had the interview with? Or the company that co-founded the scholarship? I haven't worked for either company yet.
    – Sleik
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 23:21
  • @Sleik good edit, had a hard time getting what you wanted to say (had to change my answer considerably). Hope you find it useful now.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 23:24
  • 1
    Was there anything you had to sign for the scholarship? What I am trying to get at is that for example: a company agrees to sponsor a scholarship. In return, they require that applicants and accepted students to apply to the sponsoring company first after graduation.
    – Bluebird
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 23:29

1 Answer 1


Any polite reply is an appropriate reply. You don't owe them any explanations, so it is up to you what/how you disclose the things you wish to say in that answer.

Now, for you scenarios:

  1. If I did indeed not apply for the competing company, for whatever reason.

You could well say that reason whatever it was as an answer.

If you rather not disclose that particular reason, you could try something like: "I wasn't aware of that other company having job openings. Besides, some fellow professionals suggested I tried applying here, which I thought was a good idea."

Or well just "I wasn't aware that other company was recruiting."

Another option is to say "I was aware of that other company, but doing some research led me to think that they were not the place I was looking to work on." This could work better if it is not possible for you to say the other alternatives.

  1. If I did apply for the competing company, but ended up declining their offer.
  2. If I did apply for the competing company, but got a rejection.

This is also up to you if you want to disclose.

If you decide to do so, then something like: "I did applied for the other company." should suffice. If they insist on why, try adding "It simply wasn't what I was looking for. That's also why I applied here, as I really like what I have seen so far."

This way you are not only being polite, but you are also putting the interview back on track (which should be to focus on this company and its culture).

  • I don't think "I wasn't aware of that other company" is a good response as it makes it seem like you aren't doing your homework about that company. I would say that is especially the case if that company is behind the scholarship that OP received. Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 23:12
  • @MyPrivateWorkProfile please check my answer again. Did some edits as I reread OPs post (got confused on which company was which)
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 23:14
  • @DarkCygnus Thank you for your answer! The problem is, that the competing company did co-found a scholarship of mine. They usually do that in order to recruit people, so I think saying "I wasn't aware that other company was recruiting" would not be very plausible.
    – Sleik
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 23:26
  • @Sleik I see. Still you don't owe them any explanations why, any polite response is ok. With the new edits I am now more confused on which company is which... anyways, the best thing to do is speak the truth, or at least say truthful things but that don't compromise or disclose too much for your liking.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 23:29
  • @Sleik I see you clarified that the scenarios are for company A. Thus, I hold my answer and what suggested in comments (good thing you are an engaged user, otherwise your post may have been Downvoted to oblivion, or closed as unclear). Enhanced my answer again :)
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 23:31

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