This is 1 of those questions is a variation on another one that I have addressed previously. This is the question of, "Are you interviewing?" It's a variation on the, "Where have you been interviewing," question. I want to speak to this 1 because really depends on who you're talking to as to what the intention of the question is.
Let me start off with third-party recruiters. With a contingency recruiting firm, you'll be asked this question for several reasons.
1. If you have been interviewing, they may turn around and say, "Where have you been on interviews so far?" They may be trying to find out have you been to the client, job leads of other organizations that are trying to hire so that you release that information to them and then they start reaching out to those firms to see if they can wind up being positions to work on and earn money from.
2. Another thing there trying to do is to see how far along you are in the process. So if you tell them that you have met with 14 firms, had 3 finals and you are close to 2 offers, they're probably going to hit the delete key on your resume when they are finished talking with you. That's because they will see any point in doing anything.
So one, shall we say, slimy approach to asking the question and the rest are pretty innocuous.
When an employer asks, they are obviously not good be contacting firms for job leads. What they are trying to do is (1) find out if you are aggressive job hunter. Companies have a bias against aggressive job. Their belief is that people who are actively looking for work are less attractive than those who, shall we say, are recruited. If they have contacted you and are asking this question, you might simply say, "I am not aggressively looking for work. But when you approach me, this is an interesting opportunity. Frankly, since the time you initially contacted me, 2 other firms have approached me as well" that you can talk about where you are with those firms.
Part of the reason that employer asks the question is to see how much time they might have before you have to make a choice, whether they can keep interviewing or, shall we say get off the pot and extended offer or move more quickly. You see, they like you (that's part of what the communication is), but they want to see if they can date others for a while before getting married.. You follow what I'm getting at here?
Recognize that their intent is to get a sense of how much time they have with you before they risk losing you. If you say that you have nothing else going on, they can sit back and relax a little bit, knowing that they can interview for a while. Let us know what's going on with you.,
"If anything changes, give us a call. We want to know. "
Most of the time when that happens, they have already seen a bunch of other people and never come back and make the offer.
However, if you say, "Since the time he reached out to me, a couple of other firms have reached out to me as well. I have had some really good interviews and there are some interesting opportunities out there," that will get them motivated to take more action.
Now, if you apply for job and submit a resume, this won't always work obviously, because you have indicated that you are an active job hunter. Thus, all, they are trying to do is see where you are in your process. If they are on a 1st interview and you are on a fifth interview somewhere, there are 1 of 2 ways that they might respond:
(1) accelerate the process
(2) hit the delete key because they know they cannot move fast enough.
I have found over the years that many firms where I mentioned to them that I had found this individual that really fits your role very well, but they are only 3rd or 4th interview and there are some folks who are interested, they never really move. So, caveat emptor. Recognize the impact of what you say and what the firm's motivation is.