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"What other firms are you applying for?" question

Anonymous A asked on Jul 15, 2016 - 2 answers

Hi everyone!

I would appreciate it if you could help me with the following questions that are often asked during the interview process. Let's assume one is applying to 6 firms. The questions are:

  1. What other firms are you applying for?
  2. Where are you in the process at each of them?

How would you answer them?

Also, what would an appropriate answer to those questions be if one gets a rejection from 3 firms and still has 3 to go? And in case one gets rejected from 5 and this current firm is the last that a person is applying to?

Thank you very much for your answers!

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replied on Jul 30, 2016
Current partner @ Andreessen Horowitz (VC firm). Ex-Mckinsey, ex- strategy guy at Google.
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Everyone wants the one person that everyone else wants. It's as true for business as it's for things like dating - and for good reason too: there is wisdom in the masses! :-)

1. Tell them which ones you are interested in (stick to top2-3)

2. Tell them how far you are in each (skip the ones you've been rejected for from #1, or just leave it at "finished R2 interviews with X").

If you have only got rejections so far, be up-front about it - tell them you were under-prepared and have now put in the time and effort to put your best foot forward, and that you have interviews lined up with X or Y in the coming days (unless you don't, in which case, tell them you plan to apply to X or Y as well but want to focus your energies on this current one for now).

Good luck!

Achyut replied on Jul 17, 2016

The first rule of thumb is - don't lie, especially about things that can be easily verified. Consulting is a close-knit industry and people at different firms are often friends who talk frequently to each other. Getting caught in a lie is THE surefire way to ruin your chances with a firm.

On to the possible responses, my advice is

1. Be professional and give as much information is needed: You could say something like, I have applied to "Firm X, Y etc., and I am currently between rounds at each of them". This answers the question while not divulging too many details.

2. If you're probed further (which is unlikely) and diplomatic equivocacy is not working, I would still stick to honest responses instead of telling a lie. However, such pointed questions are not very common, in my experience.

3. The interviewers are human and will of course understand your desire to apply to have backups. You should definitely have a prepared answer for why you would choose their firm over the others.

All the best!

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