While I was interviewing at a handful of companies in the past for a tech position, one of them (Company A) asked what I thought was a very interesting interview question which required some creative thinking. I did not end up joining that company, and went to another one instead (Company B). Fast-forward to today, when I am thinking of learning how to interview candidates; I feel like that question would be a good one to ask.

Is this unethical or otherwise a bad idea? Am I adversely impacting Company A's ability to recruit? There would be no publishing of the question anywhere; it would be kept secret as any Company B interview question would be.

  • You are sure non of candidates would publish the question? – paparazzo Jan 17 '18 at 17:37
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    @Paparazzi that's a risk with any interview question, I suppose. – TheSoundDefense Jan 17 '18 at 18:08
  • And you are willing to take that risk with their question? – paparazzo Jan 17 '18 at 18:13
  • @JoeStrazzere that's a good point as well. I wonder what the interview training crew would say about it. – TheSoundDefense Jan 17 '18 at 19:01
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    How do you know they didn't steal it from someone else? – user8365 Jan 17 '18 at 20:59

There are really no "secret" questions out there. Chances are if you google that question, it's already on a site somewhere. Unless the company had you sign a non-disclosure that covers everything discussed during the interview, they have no reasonable expectation that the question won't travel.

Also, after you ask it a few times yourself, it will get out there. Don't overthink this, you are in the clear.


It would be quite a stretch to consider interview questions as property. If re-using interview questions are unethical, then most companies are unethical. After all, haven't you seen or read interview advice that lists a lot of example questions or common questions?

Understandably, this situation isn't quite the same. I assume this question is creative and unique, but so was every other interview question at some time.

As long as you're not publishing the question and certainly not disclosing that Company A uses that question, I would say that you're being reasonably ethical. As long as candidates of Company A aren't aware of the question being associated with that company, they can't really take advantage of it.

So, really, there's no way to hurt Company A by your actions unless you are doing so deliberately.

However, this also applies to Company B.

You must accept that interview questions are not secrets. In a few years, it's possible that the question we are talking about is on the list of "Top 10 interview questions to memorize!".

Both Company A and B should have interviewing mechanisms that prevent applicants from memorizing your interview. These mechanisms can't exist if we are convinced that our questions are secrets. I mean, you went from Company A to Company B. What's stopping another person from doing the same. If they do, they will already be prepared for this magical question when they come to you!

The only time a question is a secret is before it's asked.

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