5

In an interview process, a company may ask if you're interviewing elsewhere. If you tell them that you are, they could follow-up by asking where do they stand in your preference list (i.e. they want to know how if they are your favorite option).

I am curious as to how to best answer this question if the company is not your top choice. Do you make it sound as if they are?

I have checked this post, but my question is about the case when you're still interviewing.

3
  • 4
    How can that company be a top choice when they have not made you an offer? At the time they are asking they are not a choice at all.
    – jwh20
    Sep 27 at 20:38
  • I wonder if this is simply a test of conversational skills, or an application of psychology: If you say they are your top choice (because you know that's the expected answer), you might convince yourself they are your top choice and thus it's a bit more likely you they take their offer, even if they aren't.
    – Benjamin
    Sep 28 at 6:48
  • I agree that one should avoid a direct answer. Besides that, it's asking for a positive attitude, so be generous with a feel-good statement. Something like: Your company is very competitive; Top n among your peers (where n is a small number); One of the best that I've seen in recent memory; I love what I'm seeing here, your team looks like you are on a path to success and I see some positive synergies; I can say without hesitation that I would be delighted to have a chance to help move your business forward...
    – Pete W
    Sep 29 at 0:01
18

How to a answer "Are we your top choice" during the interview process?

Instead of answering directly or trying to give the impression that they are your top choice, focus on letting the interviewers know aspects of this specific company that you like and how they align with your career goals. It can be anything from job description, technologies, team members, benefits....etc.

Another thing you can say is that you are still learning about the different companies and currently don't have enough information about all of them to make such an assessment. You can then follow up with questions that you have about their company that would help you determine if they are a top choice.

1
  • 1
    It also gives you a chance to ask questions and for them to sell the company to you. For example, you could say something like "I'm also interviewing at $FOO, who are a much bigger company and seem to offer more in the way of formal training, but I really like the small-company culture you have here at $BAR" - and hopefully they then respond by explaining why they're a better place for you to work. And if not, then you can go and work for $FOO.
    – Gh0stFish
    Sep 28 at 10:41
2

This is one of those yes-or-no questions to which both yes and no are bad answers, because they are too short.

Your options are

  • yes, because I can use my A, B, and C skills and get a chance to work on D and E as I have always wanted to. I know we haven't talked specifics on money yet but I'm confident we'll be able to find a number where we're both happy.
  • well, there are several great opportunities available to me, and this job is definitely one that I want, because [rest of the yes answer.]

Just plain yes is a terrible answer. You missed a chance to remind them of the reasons you're such a great fit for this job and would love it so much and should totally be hired on the spot.

Just plain no is a terrible answer. You hurt their feelings for nothing. Try skipping the feelings-hurting and just doing the reasons you're a great fit.

Just plain well kinda but not the only one at the top, maybe tied for the top, is also a terrible answer. Trot out your reasons!

Also, never say "I don't know until I know what the pay will be." It is a ridiculous fiction, demanded by almost all employers, that you choose jobs based only on what you will do all day and possibly where you will live, but not on the salary or benefits (even when they are proud of the salary and benefits.) Every hiring manager's nightmare is an employee who didn't really like the sounds of the job but just wanted the sweet sweet money. So make sure your answer about how they are the top, or tied for the top, or probably-though-I-do-have-a-few-more-questions focuses on what you do all day, not what they will pay you.

1
  • Well, I don't work for the money, but because I enjoy it. The money just decides at which place I will enjoy my work :-)
    – gnasher729
    Oct 1 at 11:33
1

I never ask somebody this question. The chance that I will get a truthful answer is impossible to estimate.

The person being interviewed will answer in a sway they are comfortable with, and helps them move the process in the direction they want.

So answer it anyway you want to based on what answer will help you move the process along.

The exact words depend on:

  • Are you just wanting to get past the question and continue the interview?
  • Do you want to make them think that you love their company and will take any offer they make?
  • Do you want to make them think that they are the only place you have applied?
  • Do you want them to know that you see this as only the first of many interviews you will make over the next few months?

Your plan for how you will answer this could even change during the interview.

1
  • I think the OP is trying to determine "what answer will help you move the process along". Sep 28 at 10:19
-2

Always give the correct answer: YES. If you say no, then they will think you are likely to not take their offer, so they are less likely to waste their time (they see it as a waste of time) to field you an offer. So, just say yes.

If you need to expand on that answer, provide some reasons you like the company, like their work domain, something about the team, or whatever. They don't need to even be the best of the companies you're interviewing with, but they want to hear things that you like about them (or, more precisely, things they expect that you like about them).

As mhoran_psprep mentioned in their answer, this is a stupid question because the correct answer is obvious and only people who either do not understand the question or very much do not care about this opportunity will give the wrong answer, and you don't want to hire either of those 2 groups. Everyone else will say "yes", even if they are lying. It's truly a dumb question. Just tell them what they want to hear and move on.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .