“How did you hear about this position?” is an interview question that seems innocent enough. However, it’s still important to know how to answer it effectively!
This guide will explain why interviewers ask this question and help you come up with an impressive answer.
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Why This Question Gets Asked in Interviews
There are a few reasons why “How did you hear about this position?” often comes up in interviews (sometimes they’ll phrase it as “How did you hear about us?” instead).
The most significant thing hiring managers hope to gain is more insight into your motivations. Where you learn about a particular job says a lot about the motivations behind your overall search, how you approach finding a new job, and what hiring techniques are working for them.
Let’s say, for example, that you heard about the position because you’ve always been interested in the mission of the company and decided to see if they were hiring. This is obviously an appealing answer to hiring managers because it shows that you have a genuine interest in being there.
Your answer can also highlight if you have any internal connections. Hearing about this job from someone inside can work in your favor. It gives you a competitive edge and tells the hiring manager to ask that person you heard the job from what they think about your potential.
Finally, hiring managers want to know how you heard about the position because it helps them understand how efficient their job postings are. Companies often post about open positions in multiple places. They use job sites, social media, and corporate websites.
If multiple candidates say they found the position on a specific channel, it gives the talent acquisition team a better idea of how to approach job listings in the future!
How to Answer “How Did You Hear About This Position?”
“How did you hear about this position?” is an interview question that sounds easy enough. But like all interview inquiries, what you say can make or break your chances of getting a job offer.
Follow these tips to learn how to answer in a way that helps you stand out.
1. Be Honest
Our first tip? Be honest!
There’s no use in lying for a question like this. You have nothing to gain and everything to lose.
Sure, hiring managers prefer to hear that you found this job during a targeted search. That implies that you’re motivated and excited about the job. But if you simply came across the listing on LinkedIn or a popular job search website, don’t be afraid to say so.
It’s better to remain honest than to make up fabrications that are easy to disprove. Even if your answer to “How did you hear about this position?” isn’t mind-blowing, there are other ways to make up the difference!
Resist the urge to make up some tall tale, and never say that you heard about the job through some imaginary internal connection. That’s a lie that the interviewer can cross-reference later. Trust us: There’s nothing more embarrassing than being confronted with the truth over a small falsehood like this.
2. Explain Why It Excited You
Here’s where you can really leave a lasting impact with your response. Don’t just talk about how you heard about the position. Go into detail about why you pursued it after you learned about the opportunity.
What piqued your interest in the job, and what about the description stood out to you the most? This detail makes a big difference and can trump any less-than-ideal sources. Even if you found it randomly, going into detail about what led you to apply can reassure the hiring manager that you’re truly interested.
Here’s a pro tip: Research the company beforehand. Even if you applied without extra digging, do so before you start the interview process. Your research about the company’s history, operations, and values can come in handy.
You can use it to develop a memorable response and detail why you’re interested in this position. Touching on the company’s work or information on the position tells the hiring manager that you did your due diligence without outright saying it.
3. Provide Some Details
Don’t be afraid to get specific. Hiring managers appreciate the information you provide. Remember: Your response can be just as beneficial to the hiring manager’s job as it is to your chances of getting hired.
If possible, tell them precisely how you heard about the position. Then, go into deeper detail about your thought processes. Expand on fundamental reasons to apply and go into specifics about what captivated you to apply.
You don’t have to go on and on about the job or tell a lengthy story. But, you should provide enough information to depict your motivations accurately and show that you’re serious about landing this job.
4. Mention Someone That Works There
If you heard about this job from someone who already works there, talk about it. However, only do this if it’s true. Don’t make something up because you think it’ll work in your favor. If you’re lying, it’ll have the opposite effect!
But if you genuinely know someone who works there and have discussed this opportunity with them, bring it up. Don’t be afraid to mention their name!
Talk about how long you’ve known this person and what your relationship entails. It’s fine if you’re only casual acquaintances. You don’t have to be best friends for that person to think you’re a good candidate for the role.
Then, mention why that person thought you would be a good fit for the position. Of course, talk about this with the connection beforehand. You don’t want to say something that’s not true.
Get a good idea of how they truly feel and bring up some of those points in the interview. The goal is to turn that internal connection into a valuable reference. If you talk about how this person brought the position to your attention, the hiring manager will likely speak with them later.
It’s a wonderful positive reference that typically holds more weight than others you might have. That individual knows the company already. As a result, their opinion matters.
5. Practice Your Answer Ahead of Time
“How did you hear about this position?” is an interview question that you want to practice answering before heading to your interview. This question seems straightforward, but it’s easy to say something wrong.
Think about your response and jot down the main points you want to make. Then, rehearse it enough to recite your answer organically. But don’t overdo it or make your words sound robotic and over-rehearsed.
Be confident and know what you say before you enter the conversation.
What You Should Avoid Including in Your Answer
Now you know how to answer “How did you hear about this position?” effectively. However, it’s also smart to be aware of some common mistakes people make when responding. This question is easier to mess up than you think!
To avoid ruining your chances, steer clear of these mishaps.
We’ve already covered the importance of staying truthful, but it bears repeating. Don’t lie! It’s not a good look and not worth the embarrassment of being found out for something so trivial.
A vague response would be telling the interviewer you heard about the position from a friend and stopping at that. Where are the specifics? Vague answers don’t have much substance and usually come off as unimpressive.
One-word replies can be just as bad as vague responses. They have nothing to give to the conversation and will put your communication skills in question.
“I Don’t Remember”
It’s alright if you don’t remember exactly how you heard about this position, but this is where some preparation comes in handy. By practicing your answer before the interview, you’ll be able to refresh your memory well enough that you can at least provide some general information. Remember to add what interested you once you did decide to apply. Simply saying that you don’t remember will make you seem forgetful, disorganized, or unprepared.
Responses That Make You Sound Disinterested
Finally, avoid any answer that makes you sound like you applied to every job you came across. Remember: when hiring managers ask “How did you hear about this position?” they want to know that you’re serious about this opportunity in specific.
Failing to do this with your answer is a missed opportunity.
There are many ways to deliver concise and memorable answers to “How did you hear about this position?”
As always, your exact response will depend entirely on your experience. But we have a few examples that you can use as inspiration when developing a solid answer.
In the first example, the applicant wasn’t actively looking for new employment. These situations occur more often than you think, but giving a great answer to “How did you hear about this position?” is a great way to cement your interest.
“I wasn’t actively searching for a job when I first heard about this position. But I reconnected with an old friend from college who currently works in your marketing department. They mentioned that you had some openings, and they had nothing but amazing things to say about [COMPANY’S] work environment.
I checked out your website and looked through the “Careers” page. I liked what I saw, and this particular position seemed right up my alley. It’s a natural next step in my career, and I’m excited at the prospect of taking on this challenge.”
This next example answer is a more common scenario. The applicant found the online job posting. What makes this response memorable is that they reiterate their interest and provide just enough specifics to reassure the hiring manager that they’re serious about the job.
“I stumbled upon your job listing while I was browsing Indeed. I searched for open positions with the “marketing specialist” keywords, and your listing came up. The result page was pretty saturated, but your listing stood out most because of the quality of the job description.
It provides a crystal-clear picture of what it would be like to work here. I was especially attracted to the mention of your tight-knit creative team. I thrive in collaborative environments and love to bounce ideas off of colleagues, so this job seemed like the perfect fit.”
Our final example comes from a candidate who learned about the job from a recruiter. The response is ideal because it goes through the applicant’s thought process and details what led them to apply.
“I initially heard about the position from James Smith at Johnsonville Recruiters. I’ve been working with James for several weeks to find the right fit. He connected me with your hiring manager because he believed I was a good candidate.
After learning more about your company and the position, I agreed. He brought the opportunity up to me after mentioning that I was looking for a new challenge beyond Fortune 500 companies. What excited me the most is that [COMPANY] is a growing startup.
I believe that I have a lot to offer. Not only do I have experience, but I can bring many contacts to leverage. I’m excited about this opportunity and eager to use my skills to help this organization flourish.”
Now that you know how to answer “How did you hear about this position?” properly, all that’s left is a little practice. Go through our steps and prepare an answer that’s true to you.
Then, go out there and impress the interviewer!
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.