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In screening calls from recruiters they often try to find out what other companies and recruitment agencies I am interviewing with right now. I try to give vague answers, but it does not always work.

Recruiter: What's the name of the other company that you are interviewing with right now?

Me: [Avoiding to give a name] It's a company that works in the field of Such and Such doing This and That.

Recruiter: Ah you mean XYZ Corp? Yeah I know them well. Have you spoken to Bob (XYZ boss) yet?

And other questions like, what's the name of the other recruitment agency I am working with, etc.

I'm happy to be open as long as I am not compromising my other opportunities because I don't want to come across stone-walled. But something tells me that I have to be careful with this. What information should I disclose, and where should you draw the line?

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  • Did you ask them why they need that info? – Sourav Ghosh Feb 4 '20 at 7:04
  • @SouravGhosh No, that would be too simple – ig-dev Feb 4 '20 at 7:04
  • Too simple for? – Sourav Ghosh Feb 4 '20 at 7:05
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    Yeah, it happens, sometimes you just need an extra pair of eyes or ears to re-asses the scenarios. :) – Sourav Ghosh Feb 4 '20 at 7:12
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    The company info seems highly relevant as (i don't think) it would go over well to apply to a company twice from through two agents. – Mars Feb 4 '20 at 7:25
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In general, I would only disclose information that would benefit myself.

This is exactly what they do, so no need to feel you are stone-walling.

I pretty much never mention names - only that I am interviewing. Depending on the situation, I might tell them that I'm quite far in the process - or that I don't really expect anything to materialize; which ever claim seems more beneficial to me.

The main goal is to leave them with the impression that I cannot be pushed around or used to extract information about third parties.

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I really don't know if anything good / positive can come out of the knowledge of the other organization names to which you might have applied for. Yes, a recruiter may need that information to avoid duplicating your application for the same post in the same organization, but for that, they can ask you for confirmation before they send out your application to any organization / post / opening.

If they ask, and if you're not willing to give out that info, simply ask them back:

"Yes, might be, why'd you need that info?"

  • If they say they have an opening (for which you might have already applied through other channel), state that you're not interested in that position for now (no need to explain / provide reason - it's your choice after all).

  • If they are looking for your expected salary range - that can be discussed without knowing the company names also.

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  • :) ............ – Cloud Sep 30 '20 at 13:34
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In general, it's perfectly sensible to withhold information which might disadvantage you or be to the benefit of another party. This applies to salary conversations particularly.

However, when recruitment agencies ask who else you are interviewing with, it's often for your benefit. For example, in Ireland where I live, if 2 agencies submit the same CV to an organisation it is often (maybe always) discarded to avoid agencies disputing who presented the candidate - or both trying to claim fees - if the candidate is offered the role. Alternatively, they may want to avoid wasting your time by contacting you to suggest roles you have already applied for through other agencies.

You have to assume any agency worth their salt will be constantly monitoring job sites and cold calling potential employers to understand the way the local market looks. I think its unlikely they are hoping to mine your limited view on the current job market to fill out the bigger picture for them.

When an organisation has an in-house recruitment team, if they ask if you are interviewing elsewhere its often to understand how quickly they need to move if they want you. (This applies to agencies too I suppose so they can communicate this urgency to the client). For example, if you are actively looking, and at the later stages with another company, I will happily scramble to reschedule internal meetings so I can get you in for the next round as soon as possible. If, on the other hand you are being very selective about what you're applying for and don't have other irons in the fire, then I have a bit more time and I don't need to rush the department head back from a conference to meet you before somebody else snaps you up.

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Recruiter: What's the name of the other company that you are interviewing with right now?

Me: I'm sorry, I don't give out that sort of information. How would you feel if I gave your sales leads out to other recruiters?

Repeat for any other question which might disadvantage you (current salary).

Also be alert for "What's your bottom line for this role?" (i.e. the minimum $$ you would take).

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