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…
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?”
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.
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).
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:
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…
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:
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.
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.
“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.”
“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.
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?”
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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