I am currently interviewing for Software Engineer positions in Sillicon Valley, and I was reached out to by a big company. I had interviewed them before earlier this year, but I did not pass it and wasn't extended an offer.

The recruiter that reached out to me this time was different than the one last time, and he ultimately asked me "Have you interviewed with us before?" Being a candid person, I answered yes, but I honestly did not remember the exact date of when I did. I had told him I believed it was a year ago, but I just checked now and it has only been 8 months.

This morning I received an e-mail telling me that the hiring manager/team doesn't see a fit for me at this time.

So finally question is:

What is the purpose of them asking "Have you interviewed with us before?" Should I just say "no" next time around? It seems that their internal HR does't have any real way to validate this. I believe that by saying "yes" has just impeded me from moving forward with the hiring process.

  • 33
    Never lie, especially on something they can easily check. If they do check and find you have interviewed before, well, that's basically a guaranteed boot out the door.
    – animuson
    Aug 28, 2012 at 17:57
  • Just to add more context to the question, did the previous position have any relationship with new position? ie same team, or same department etc.
    – tehnyit
    Aug 28, 2012 at 19:15
  • hi @tehnyit, I'm not sure, I doubt it. They are just looking for talent right now, to fill positions as they deem fit.
    – John Do
    Aug 28, 2012 at 20:46
  • @animuson And I think would include termination of offers extended or firing after starting. Lying (even stretching the truth) on anything in the hiring process is a huge invitation for trouble.
    – Nicole
    Aug 30, 2012 at 4:51
  • Note that it may also be seen as a positive: they rejected you and you still want to work for them, why? It's a good chance to flatter them and focus on where you've improved since last time. Maybe you're more experienced, maybe you've worked on personal skills etc. Especially relevant if they gave you feedback last time, as you can address it directly
    – Jon Story
    Nov 26, 2014 at 11:23

5 Answers 5


You shouldn't lie. No good will come of it when they discover that you did.

A recruiter might ask you if you've interviewed there before because his compensation is based on you getting hired on his referral -- so if you've talked with them before, then (1) if they said no they probably will again (from his point of view) and (2) he might not even get the credit.

An employer might ask you if you've interviewed there before because of a hold policy (if they keep resumes on file for N months and you talked with them <N months ago, you're already in their pipeline), or because that context might be relevant. If a company has had a recent change in business direction, process, acquisition status, etc, they might want to update you on anything they told you before.


I think the limiting factor to your interview not moving forward was that you weren't a fit before. Expecting that if you don't disclose your history with the company then you'll have better luck is unreasonable. Chances are good that later down the line, they would have figured this out anyway, and you'd then have been in the position of explaining why you lied - in which case, you are likely to get a negative reaction from both the recruiter and the company.

It can really go either way. Companies ask about whether or not you've interviewed with them for a variety of reasons. It can include:

  • Not repeating the process when they already turned you down for the position.

  • Not starting a bidding war between internal groups if the hiring process is still going on.

  • A HR policy about not re-offering to a canddiate that has turned THEM down - if they made an offer and you reject it, you may be on a "on hold" period for other offers, so that they aren't deluging you with the same sub-optimal offers.

In general - interviewing has a cost. If the company has previous experience with you, they want to mitigate the cost and avoid repeating the cost of a process you've already gone through. Yes, in a perfect world they may know that you have history with them, but then again, many people have the same name, and they may not have the data storage to compare resumes for whether you are a perfect match. I have seen companies that have resume submission systems that do automatic email matching, for example, but not everyone has this sort of infrastructure.

Addition based on comments: For sure - if a candidate isn't a fit in one place, it's not usual for an interviewer to recommend a different position - I've often done this myself in cases where the learning curve was unacceptably steep, but the candidate was clearly skilled in his own area of expertise. Similarly, if a position comes along months after the interview, it's not unusual for interviewers to be polled so that the company doesn't repeat the process. Most interviewers keep good enough notes that they can say "yes/no" and why even on a second job opportunity. At that point, the "no" may well be for the bigger reasons - personal style doesn't fit culture, wasn't impressed by the person's body of work, or uncovered a big "gotcha" - a lie, an ethical problem or a quality that we simply can't put in our talent pool (for example, with defense contracting, not citizen can be a no-go).

Given that any job is presumably a long term relationship, you really don't want to be caught later having told a lie just to get in the door.

  • 1
    +1. Elaborating a bit: Sometimes candidates are rejected because they don't fit the position. Maybe an expert in some technology is needed immediately. A candidate may have been a hire in general, but not for the position that was open. Those candidates may get called back. Sometimes candidates are rejected because they don't meet the company standards for developers: failed the white-board programming test, were poorly groomed, behaved badly, had no story to match the resume, whatever. An employer won't waste time interviewing them again. Aug 29, 2012 at 21:58
  • Yes! there is a differnce between someone they decided was not qualified for this postion but could be good for something else or someone we would have hired if we had two positions open instead of one and someone who by his answers showed that he was not a cultural fit or was deemed to be professionally unqualified for any position or someone who could not pass the employment background checks. The last two would be marked as no hires for the future and the others might be in consideration for a new position. Given the reaction, if I were the OP, I wouldn't bother to apply there again.
    – HLGEM
    Aug 30, 2012 at 18:21
  • good points gang - I updated the post to streamline! Thanks! Aug 31, 2012 at 13:05

What is the purpose of them asking "Have you interviewed with us before?"

Ideally, so they're not wasting their time getting the same result again. Sometimes to get feedback from the other department you interviewed with.

Should I just, next time around say "no"?

No. Outright lying as part of an interview process is a big no-no.

I believe that by saying "yes" to "have you interviewed with us before" has just impeded me from moving forward with the hiring process.

It might've, but I know of a few people who have been hired at a company after interviewing there before, as recently as 3 months before. They usually are moving departments, but not always. There is no real answer for this.

  • I hate to say it, but sometimes my name comes up a dozen times for an interview, I know I've interviewed multiple times for the same job through different times. Sometimes companies also ask if you've been intereviwed in the past to find out why you wern't hired the first times, and if no good reason was given, why not? Other times it's for personal record...
    – Matt Ridge
    Aug 29, 2012 at 16:13
  • What about the situation when the past interview was a long time ago (say 5 - 7 or even 10 years) and, off the top of your head, you say "No" because you just don't remember. While you're looking for a new job, you go to a lot of interviews so it's very possible and probable that you won't remember every one of those companies years later... Mar 6, 2014 at 17:35

The reason they ask if you've applied or been interviewed before is very simple: They want to pull whatever information was recorded by the interveiwer or collected by Personnel at the time. Nothing more, nothing less.

If you failed whatever test they gave you, had an awful interview or the background revealed a felony conviction for murder and cannibalism, it can sink you. Many hiring managers won't care about the first two (the third might not exclude you at Oracle, depending on who the victim worked for.)

No sane person cares whether your memory of when you interviewed is accurate. There are idiots who would feel that your saying "about a year ago" when it was 16 months shows a lack of precision and poor attention to detail. You don't want to work for them.

Lying about something that personnel can verify from its own systems is stupid-- when they try to create a file on you, the record will show up.

  • 1
    If they have records, it's important, and some candidates answer incorrectly, why wouldn't they always check their records before proceeding? Aug 30, 2012 at 16:58
  • 3
    Because the systems don't work properly. Taleo and Kinexa are awful pieces of software-- the search functions are worthless (don't find valid records or return stuff that doesn't fit). They want to know if it's worthwhile to hunt.... and a small place might just have files.
    – Geoff
    Aug 30, 2012 at 21:49

what is the purpose of a company asking have you interviewed with us before

Maybe they want to see, how much you had enhanced your skills from the last time.

Be brave enough to say Yes, you interviewd before with them. A reason for why weren't you hired and facts supporting how you overcomed that deficiency will work wonders.

If you are interviewing with them after a gap of 2 or 3 years, then saying yes i was rejected that time will not harm you as much. because within this time, you could have gained much better experience.

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