I am applying for positions with a company in an industry that does not compete with my current employer (current is a software company for pipelines, prospective is health care). The question "Have you signed and are currently subject to an existing or prior non-compete agreement?" is part of every application for every position I have seen with this employer.

There are other major competitors for the prospective employer in the area and I'm wondering if they mean a non-compete that would interfere with hiring me, or any non-compete at all. To this point I have taken the full honesty approach and said "Yes".

Should I call their HR department directly and ask for clarification?

  • 3
    Brian, I edited out your code backticks and replaced them with italics. This Meta gives an explanation of why we don't use them here at The Workplace.
    – David K
    Oct 13, 2017 at 13:44
  • 5
    Note: non-compete agreements are a complex legal issue which may, or may not, be valid or significantly limited in any particular jurisdiction. If it's something that affects you, you should seek competent legal advice.
    – Makyen
    Oct 13, 2017 at 16:55

2 Answers 2


Calling HR probably wouldn't hurt, but the honest route is always the way to go.

Yes I signed a non-compete clause with American Widgets not to work for any Widget manufacturer for a period of three years. However, I want to make clear the fact that this in no way interferes in my eligibility to work for your company, Consolidated Thingamabobs, as you are not considered a competitor and the non-compete does not apply to your company.


Yes - you should call their HR, nobody here knows how they want this answered. But it could be a possible deal breaker if they don't think your position is worth negotiating you out of a non-compete. So they have to be informed that it does not apply here.

If the only possible answer was a Yes/No, I would have ticked no, because I would have assumed they are only interested in applicable non-compete. Else I would have written: yes, but in another industry so it will not apply.

In the end, you are the one liable for eventually breaching your non-compete, not your new employer. So be sure to get it right

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    This is how I was leaning. I have no desire to answer no to the question on the application and have it come back to haunt me later in the hiring process.
    – Brian
    Oct 13, 2017 at 17:33
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    They only care if it affects them, but they want to be the ones to determine that. Oct 13, 2017 at 23:40

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