Interview advice
By Chris Bongard
8th July 2015

What exactly should you tell a recruiter? You may not wish to unveil your darkest secrets to them but any recruiter doing their job properly will want to fully understand your intentions before they represent you to their client.

This means delving into the reasons behind your job search and what is important to you in a new role (e.g you may be flexible on location but not salary, flexible on salary but only want to work for a company offering good progression etc). Part of understanding your priorities also involves looking at the other opportunities that you have been applying for as this gives a full picture of your preferences.

Yet a lot of people are concerned about what a recruiter will do with this information and worry if it can hinder their job search.

Unfortunately this apprehension isn't always misplaced. There are some particularly underhanded recruiters that will find out where you are interviewing, call up that company and offer them an alternative set of candidates, significantly upping the competition against you. Fortunately it is possible to spot these rogue recruiters and hopefully stop them in their tracks with help from our article here.

But the question remains, should you tell your recruiter where else you’re interviewing?

Yes, you should tell them

Being upfront with an ethical recruiter about where else you’re interviewing will benefit you in your job application process. Here’s why:

  • They can analyse the types of companies you’re interested in and advise how the one they are putting you forward to will compare.
  • They can weigh up the location, salary and benefits in comparison with their role and advise on appropriate package negotiations with their client.
  • The recruiter will have more leverage to speed up the process with their client if they can tell them that you have other options on the table.

A good recruiter will strive to gather all the relevant details about you so they can act in your best interests and negotiate effectively on your behalf. However, you may argue that you could reveal the details of other opportunities without disclosing the company names. Surely this means you’re meeting the recruiter halfway but still protecting yourself? So why would you tell a recruiter the company names of where else you’re interviewing?

Are you serious?

You want your recruiter to know that you are serious about getting a new role and that if they are not prompt through-out the process, they may lose you to another fantastic job offer. The best way to make this clear to the recruiter is to tell them where you are interviewing, so there can be no doubt in their mind that they are competing for you.

Show that you’re honest

Occasionally a candidate may try their luck and lie about having interviews elsewhere in order to negotiate a higher pay or better package. This is one of the main reasons that recruiters will ask you for the names of these companies. When it comes down to it, if the recruiter suspects that you’re not being honest with them, they will naturally be far less willing to recommend you to their client.

Keep them in the loop

By giving this information, your recruiter can understand how likely you are to accept another offer should it come in. You are setting their expectations which will make you seem more professional to them and their client. If you drop out of the process halfway through to accept another role, by clearly informing your recruiter of the possibility of this, you won’t damage the relationship. If you dropping out suddenly comes as a complete surprise, they will be reluctant to represent you again the future. It’s never good to burn these bridges as it can affect who will work with you in your future career moves.

No, you shouldn't tell them

If you haven’t worked with the recruiter before, haven’t been put forward for a role and are not discussing a specific job with them, then don’t tell them where else you’re interviewing. They don’t need to understand your other job opportunities or negotiate on your behalf with their client so knowing where else you’re interviewing isn't necessary.

If you haven’t dealt with the recruiter before, you will want to figure out whether or not they are truly interested in finding you a job. This is demonstrated by them discussing existing vacancies, submitting you to suitable roles and discussing your requirements in-depth.

Question any warning signs; for example if the recruiter is particularly pushy about getting this information or if you have heard rumours about them aggressively trying to gain new business, it’s worth holding onto your details until you understand their motives.

Of course, you are not obliged to provide this information, so if you do feel uncomfortable about it, are unsure of the recruiters’ motives, and you think you’re dealing with a rogue recruiter then don’t tell them.

It’s not me, it’s you

The decision to unveil where else you're interviewing should be decided depending on the recruiter you are dealing with. If they have shown themselves to be trustworthy and have the right intentions, then yes, you should share this information. If they haven't proven this then don't tell them until they do.

Listen to your intuition.  Do you believe that the recruiter has your best interests at heart and isn't just looking for their next job to fill? Are they trying to place you in a suitable role that would benefit your career? If you can trust them then it is a lot easier to share this information with confidence that it’s not going to cause you any trouble, allowing you to focus on more important aspects of your job hunt.

If you don’t trust the recruiter enough to share these details then it’s worth considering if you really want them representing you to their client at all. If you get to the stage where they will be negotiating for salary and benefits on your behalf, will you really trust that they are trying to get you the best deal that you deserve? Or will they be simply trying to fill the role so they can move on to the next one?

This highlights the importance of having a good relationship with a recruiter – someone that you trust and can work with at different points in your career. This can help to alleviate some of the stress of the job hunt as you know that the recruiter is doing their best on your behalf. 

Would you tell a recruiter where else you’re interviewing or choose to keep these details to yourself? Have you experienced any drawbacks? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Comments

"I have always wondered why I was asked by recruitment folk who else I was being interviewed by. I tend not to say though some agents are persistent. In one such case, I dropped my guard, telling a recruiter that I had just met the Board shortly after passing the first two interviews at a rival firm prospect. The job that he was representing me for was a much more junior post. I had a call from the other recruiter the next day telling me, in a shaken voice, that I had not got the job. He was astounded, saying that it was unprecedented to be failed at this, the “rubber stamping” stage. What he did not know was that I had resigned from my previous role due to some serious misgivings about the firm. They had given me a compromise agreement which included mutual “no smear” requirements but I know this has been broken by the firm many times. I am pretty certain that the rival agent had either passed this information on or had made perhaps made an untrue report anonymously.
From other observations, I believe that I have been placed on a blacklist by several other agencies and I simply don’t yet have the documented evidence to prove this.
While here are many good recruitment firms out there, increasingly, I am dealing with shallow, dishonest and unprofessional recruiters who have little knowledge of the industry in which they are plying their trade." - San Paolo

"I don’t see how this is relevant to Contractors talking to Contract Recruiters about Contract Roles. Never give anything away." - Adrian Sherwin

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