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I'm talking to a recruiter from a big IT company and in the last email she asked me to provide names of other companies that I'm interviewing with, as well as their location. What is the purpose of such question? Is it common practice? Should I answer or not?

I understand the point of asking general questions like 'Are you interviewing with other companies?', 'Do you have any deadlines?' and I'm answering them happily, but I've never been asked to provide any details regarding those companies. Answers to other questions (here and here) suggest to not mention names of other companies to recruiters, but don't provide any details on reasoning why.

marked as duplicate by solarflare, scaaahu, gnat, gazzz0x2z, jimm101 Dec 20 '18 at 13:25

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    Is the recruiter internal HR staff or just a headhunter? – rath Dec 19 '18 at 21:33
  • @rath It's internal HR staff. – xemlmrx Dec 20 '18 at 9:52
  • @solarflare That question is different and none of the answers provide answer to this question, which I reflected in the second paragraph. – xemlmrx Dec 20 '18 at 9:55
  • I agree this is a different question than the duplicate. This question is about "which companies are you interviewing with" (specific company names), the duplicate question is about whether or not the candidate is interviewing anywhere else at all (yes or no answer). These questions are substantially different and may be asked for very different reasons. – Sander Dec 20 '18 at 16:00
  • I can no longer add an answer since this question was marked as duplicate so I will add a comment instead. I once asked a recruiter why they wanted to know which companies I was interviewing with, and they told me that it was so they knew not to waste their time scheduling interviews for me with those same companies. As a matter of fact, working with a few different recruiters during my last job search, they would regularly call me up with opportunities at companies that I was already interviewing with or had already heard about from a different recruiter. – Sander Dec 20 '18 at 16:04
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They want information, so they will know

  1. Which companies are hiring, so they can have information about competitors
  2. Which companies are interested in you, which projects they have, and all that. They can use that to have a more accurate impression of you.
  3. If they know the range of salaries the other companies have, they can use that information in their benefit to offer you as little as posible for you to be happy but not expending a penny more.
  4. They will know if you're willing to travel or to move.
  5. Even perhaps if they have some kind of relationship they can exchange impressions, at a corporate level or as a person level between recruiters.
  6. To see if you're bluffing

I could probably think about a few more, but the point here is: Giving them that information won't help you and probably make your position weaker at negotiations

You should try to avoid saying them the names, say all the processes including the process with them needs discrection. It's something like when they push you to say how much you earn now, THEY DON'T NEED TO KNOW THAT, THEY JUST WANT THAT INFORMATION TO HAVE A MORE POWERFUL POSITION NEGOTIATING WITH YOU

If knowing that you still want to say them the names, is up to you. Maybe you prefer to give them "that power" because you need the job, or because you want it more than anything. That's fine. But remember that you don't have to say anything, and if they keep pushing you should really think if you want to work in a place like that.

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    Giving that information only weakens the candidates position if it supports the notion that their position is weak - if one of the companies is for example known for paying higher-than-average wages it can strengthen the candidates position as they know they will more likely have to compete with an attractive alternative if they want the candidate. – motosubatsu Dec 20 '18 at 9:59
  • I'm not going to disagree with you but I have always done the opposite and gotten useful information in return, including who's hiring, what skills are on the increase, what skills are on the decrease. I guess it depends on where you are but I find the having a good relationship with recruiters in the area can be useful. – Keith Loughnane Dec 20 '18 at 12:09
  • 1a. They have other candidates similar to you to place, so if they know who else you are interviewing with they can call them with a 'Hi, I see you're interviewing Sebastian for x position, would you be interested in other candidates? 1b. Worse is the above with a 'we have other candidates equally qualified for 20% less.' Yes this happens. – Jim Horn Dec 20 '18 at 14:27
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Generally companies can get a read for how good their rivals think you are, i.e. if our rival company, X who we have a lot of respect for want you, then chances are you're worth talking to. It's reassuring to them.

Also, it strengthens their hand if they know who else os after you, simply put, the more knowledge they have about your situation the easier the process becomes. For example they know what kind of money they can get away with offering, the timeframe they have, etc.

My advice would be not to shut them out, give them some information, but don't be an open book. For example if you are talking to 2/3 competitors, you're well in your rights to say something like..."I am currently talking to a few other companies in the same sector/area, offering very exciting opportunities"...if talks are going well you could even mention that this other company is "keen to push on and is offering a very good opportunity", just to strengthen your hand.

Hope that this helps, regardless, all the best and I hope things work out the way you hope!

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We cannot know why the recruiter wants to know these details other than market research and possibly to gauge your own salary range. I agree fully with Sebastian's answer that you would weaken your negotiating position if you give them that information.

If you don't want to answer you can say

Hello Recruiter

I treat each interview as confidential, and therefore I cannot provide you with the names or any other details we have discussed. I have also treated our interview process the same.

I can say they are peer companies and the role I apply for is broadly in the same lines as yours.

It's important to say they are peer companies because it introduces the element of competition; if they're completely different industries, at completely different sizes, they won't necessarily care for each other.

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