Employers love asking interview questions like, “how did you hear about us?” or, “how did you hear about the position?” And they’re looking for a few specific things in your answer! If you’re not prepared to explain how you heard about this job, it can start your interview off poorly and possibly cost you the job offer (first impressions count for a lot, and employers often ask this VERY early). So in this article, I’m going to walk you through how to answer, “how did you hear about us?” with sample answers, do’s and don’ts, and more.
Let’s get started…
Why Employers Ask “How Did You Hear About the Position?”
Employers ask this question for a few reasons. First, they honestly want to know. They’re curious. You see, employers post jobs in many different places, and if they find a candidate they like (you), they’re curious how you found them. For example, maybe they posted their position on two job boards, and also created a YouTube video about their hiring needs. They want to know which of their efforts are most effective, so they’ll often begin an initial phone interview by asking a question like, “how did you hear about this job?”
There’s one more reason they ask, too… And this is where you can make a mistake if you’re not careful…
They’re asking you how you heard about them because they want to hire someone who’s being targeted and specific in their job hunt. Employers want to hire someone who knows what they want. They don’t want someone who will accept any job they can get. They’d much rather get someone who’s excited for THEIR specific job… because they think that person will be more motivated, more energetic, etc. This is also why employers ask questions like, “Why did you apply for this job?” “why do you want this job?” and, “what do you know about our company?” So you need to make sure your answer shows that you have intent and purpose in your job search, and you didn’t just stumble onto their job randomly, along with 1,000 other jobs you’ve applied for. Because if you sound like that, you aren’t going to a job offer from top companies. (FYI- if you want more help knowing why companies reject people, we have an in-depth article on 16 reasons you can’t find a job).
Watch: How to Answer “How Did You Hear About This Position?”
How to Answer “How Did You Hear About This Position?”
When you first interview for a new position, the hiring manager will likely ask how you heard about the job. Your answer will help them understand what attracted you to the role and whether there are any unique reasons why you applied for it.
You’ll want to convey your enthusiasm for the role and the company in your response. Highlight any attributes about the position or the organization that you find attractive. For instance, maybe the role allows you to enhance your skills in a new area, or you greatly respect the company’s policies concerning ESG factors.
Name-drop if possible
If someone you know recommended the job to you, make sure to name them in your interview, especially if they work for the company or personally know the manager. Someone who can vouch for your capabilities is nearly always beneficial and will help you stand out against other candidates.
Finally, mention specific qualifications you have that relate to the job. For instance, if you’re interviewing for an audit role and you have your CPA certification or are working toward one, that can add additional weight to your application. You should also mention any relevant advanced education you have that relates to the position.
Answering “How Did You Hear About Us?” – 10 Sample Answers
In most cases, it’s perfectly fine to tell the truth when you explain how you heard about their job. If ANY of these reasons are true, you can simply tell the truth in the interview:
- You were looking actively for jobs and found it on a job board, careers website, while searching jobs on LinkedIn, etc., and that’s how you first saw their job
- You have a colleague or friend in the company who suggested you apply or mentioned they were hiring
- You have a colleague or friend who doesn’t work in the company right now, but heard they were hiring and suggested you apply
- You read an article, press release, or other news source saying they were hiring
- You read an article or other news source that made you interested in the company in general, so you decided to look for job openings with them
- You were contacted by a recruiter who put you in touch with the company or made you aware of the company
- You were visiting their website for another reason and saw their “Careers” page
- You like their company in general and went to their website and “Careers” page specifically to look for a job opening because you’d like to work for them
- You saw an advertisement for a job opening (on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)
- You were familiar with the company via previous work (for example, if they were a competitor of yours in a previous job)
Those are all really good reasons for how you heard about the job, and can help lead into your explanation of why you applied for the position too. It’s a slightly different interview question, but closely-related. So, that’s how to answer this question easily and effectively. There are some things you need to avoid doing too…
Mistakes to Avoid When Answering “How Did You Hear About This Position?”
Now that you’ve seen some good sample answers for how you heard about the job, let’s look at what NOT to say. These are all answers you should avoid giving:
- Don’t say you’re not sure or don’t remember (you’ll seem scattered or disorganized in your job search – which will make it harder to get hired)
- Don’t do anything to make it sound like you are applying for every job you find, like a desperate job seeker who doesn’t care what job they get as long as they get hired
- Do not tell a lie that could get you caught (like saying you saw them on a job board if you’re not sure they posted any jobs on a job board)
So the best way to answer “How did you hear about the position?” is to either tell the truth, or if you can’t, use one of the 10 good reasons I mentioned in the previous section (after verifying that it COULD be true). Also, the best answers are concise and to-the-point. So make sure you keep it brief too. If the interviewer wants more info, they’ll ask.
I’d recommend keeping your answer to one or two sentences maximum. Nobody’s trying to trip you up or catch you with a mistake when they ask how you heard about the position. It’s not a trap. It’s just an icebreaker or a way to get the interview started and find out a bit about your job search and how you’re looking for jobs.
“How Did You Hear About the Position?” Full Sample Answers:
Now let’s go through some sample word-for-word answers for how you found out about the position. This will help you get comfortable and get some ideas you can use to create your own answer. We’ll start with an example for active job seekers, and then I’ll give you an example if you’re a passive job seeker or are interviewing while you have a job.
Sample Answer for Active Job Seekers:
“I’m actively job searching right now, and found your job posting on LinkedIn while searching for Senior Engineer positions. I reviewed the job description on LinkedIn before applying and it seemed like a great potential fit so I wanted to apply and learn more about the opportunity to see if it’s a good match.”
Sample Answer for Passive Job Seekers:
“I wasn’t actively looking for a job change, but a colleague mentioned that she saw you were hiring on your website, and said she had heard good things about your work environment. I went to your website and did some reading on the Careers page and liked what I saw, so I decided I should apply and learn more about the opportunity.”
The bottom line is: The best and most impressive job seekers show that they’re being careful in their job search and are looking for the RIGHT job, not just any job. So that should be your goal when you answer, “how did you hear about the position?” – show the company that you’re job searching with purpose and not desperately applying everywhere in search of any employer that will take you.
How to Stand Out from Other Job Seekers When Answering
The top job seekers focus on going into the interview to learn more about a job, have a conversation, and find out if it’s a good fit for both sides. They’re not desperate, and they’re not even sure they want the job. They went to learn about it, ask the interviewer some questions, and then make a decision. If you can do this, you’ll get more job offers from better employers. Hiring managers love this, and very few people are doing it properly so you’ll stand out right away. You demonstrate this by having a clear, concise answer to, “how did you hear about the position?” …And then by showing confidence and never acting desperate in the interview, and by asking great questions. Here are the best questions to ask recruiters. (You’ll often hear interview questions about how you heard about the job in the first interview with a recruiter).
If you follow the steps above and read some of the additional resources I’ve linked to, you’ll be on your way to standing out and getting a job offer in your next interview… and you’ll have a great answer for when they ask, “how did you hear about this position?”