From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

November 2019
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Phone Interview Query
Filed under: Interviewing
Posted by: site admin @ 9:34 am

Hi Dan,

I did a phone interview today and was asked a question that I was not prepared for.   I would really appreciate your advice as to how to handle the question since I am sure it will come up again.  

It began by the interviewer saying I am coming from a top notch lab and that I will have no problem finding a job.  Then he mentioned that I have a relationship with Pfizer and asked if Pfizer has extended an offer. 

I was honest and replied that I have been talking to Pfizer but nothing was firm yet.   

He then asked me what other companies I was interviewing with.  I was beginning to feel a little bit uncomfortable and mentioned that I did have an interview in June.  He kept pressing the issue and began asking for the company.  I remained quiet and then asked if it was another biotech or pharma company.  I told him pharma.  

I thought the phone interview was going well but it seemed that once he knew other companies might be interested he wasn’t interested any more.  Any advice on how to handle this situation if it comes up again?


One Response to “Phone Interview Query”

  1. Anonymous Says:
    Hi T.,

    When you are posed the question ‘are you applying for other positions,’ consider that it is only necessary to indicate that you are in the job market and seeking a position of “challenge” or where you can “accomplish personal goals” or whatever it is that motivates you to excellence. So, a response one can offer is that one is “not comfortable speaking about other opportunites and wish to focus on the position offered at” … GSK or whereever.

      There is no advantage for you to reveal any activities that you are pursuing elsewhere.

      There is, at some point, a perspective that you ‘can’ indicate that you are working to achieve another position at another firm. It is when you have an offer in hand and you wish to determine if a company is interested in extending you an offer. The way things go with this touchy matter is that companies are pursuing the best possible candidates and they are unwilling to work to hire someone if they do not have the chance to hire her.

      An approach to take is that you want to pursue each company as if it were the only opportunity. You want to have them consider your candidacy fully as well as to be able to explore your needs and criteria for the postion.

      T., a good friend has counseled me that the company may have a hiring time constraint or may be determining if you are willing to reveal more information in asking the question. ANOTHER INPUT OFFERED If I were in T.’s place, I would say “that I had several other strong contacts at pharma companies but would rather not say which ones unless it were really pertinent data the interviewer needed. I would further state that I had a very high interest in the interviewer’s company, for the following reasons… “
      As we all know, potential employers like to know that a candidate is serious about them, especially when the candidate has choices. I doubt that T. will run into this situation again, but if she does, she can turn it into an advantage by stroking the ego of the interviewer and his/her company.

    Hope this helps.

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