I know what you’re thinking. Nobody messes this [interview question
up, right? I mean, it’s the easiest one you’ll ever have to answer during your job hunt. Ever. When I was recruiting, I approached it with the mindset of, “I’m going to ask the candidate to tell me how he found the gig just to break the ice.” Or, I’m going to bring this up to know which of my many methods actually led to a qualified candidate sitting in front of me. Never was it ever a trick question.
But I quickly learned that in a lot of ways, this one trips people up sometimes. And because I’ve seen some of the worst examples, here’s how you can avoid making the most common mistakes when talking about how you found the job.
I hate to sound so crass, but if you’re fortunate enough to know someone at a company you want to work for, just buckle up and tell everyone who asks you exactly how you found out about the job. A simple response like, “I was excited to find out about the job from my friend who works in [department]” is a perfectly OK response. In fact, it’s the only response you should be giving if this is the case.
If you want to fold in a little tidbit about why you’re so excited about the job, that’s not a terrible idea. But, keep it short. Add your unique spin to a response along the lines of, “I found it on [wherever you found the job], and since I’ve been hoping to work for the company for a long time, I was excited to see the opening had become available.” That’s all you need. Seriously.
When I realized that I had applied for a lot of jobs during my last stretch of unemployment, I made myself a simple Excel spreadsheet to keep track of everything. It included the following columns: job title, link to the original listing, the date I applied, where (or how) I found the opening, and current stage of the interview process. That list especially came in handy for phone interviews, but regardless of how close I was (or wasn’t) to getting any particular job, I don’t know how I could’ve kept track of anything during my job search without that spreadsheet. If you’re having trouble remembering little details, like how you found a particular posting, cobble together a tracker for yourself.