Are You Actively Interviewing?

I have been following your blog/subscribed to your emails for quite some time now and I love it! Thank you so much for all your work! So much helpful information and I love your point of view on many things HR.

I have a question that has been on my mind for a while and I was hoping that you could shed some light on this, too. One of the interview questions that I’ve heard quite a lot lately is “Are you actively interviewing now?”. I see what the employers might want to know – whether I’ve responded to their job opening because I specifically want to work for them and in this particular role, or if I just want to change my job and they are yet another company on my list among dozens of others. This makes sense to me (especially remembering the whole Zenefits/Uber story). However, in my case it’s different – I’m a recent graduate, I had a long-term internship after I’ve graduated, and I haven’t been employed for a few months since. So of course I am actively interviewing! That question just doesn’t make much sense to me under these circumstances. I’m quite perplexed here. Could you please give some idea what it is they are looking to hear and what replies should work best.

Hope you’ll find this worth your time and maybe this will be useful to your readers as well. Thank you in advance!

Just like in that Zenefits story (short version: guy receives a job offer from Zenefits and Uber, asks a question on Quora about which is better and Zenefits revokes the offer), some people only want to hire people who think this particular company is their dream job. Therefore, they aren’t interested in interviewing anybody who is interviewing anywhere else. These people should be fired.

But, most people are asking for reasonable purposes. It tells them if you’re actively looking to leave your current job, or if this is just an awesome opportunity. It also guides them on their timelines. If you’re interviewing elsewhere and they really like you, they might accelerate the process in order to beat out the competition. On the other hand, if you’re a midrange candidate, they may say, “eh, we don’t want to worry about timelines.”

But, in your case, since you’re unemployed, it does seem obvious that you’re actively looking for a job, so why ask? Probably because it’s a standard question. They are looking to fill out a form and that’s one of the questions. I wouldn’t read too much into in this situation–just answer the question. “Yes. As you can see from my resume, I just finished school and I’m actively looking for my first professional job. I’m really excited about the opportunity here because…”

Congratulations on the degree and good luck on the job hunt!

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