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A month ago, I had onsite interviews lined up with two large software companies, Company A and Company B, with Company A being by far my first choice between the two. Both companies are located in the same city, thousands of miles from my current residence. I would have had the interviews close together, however Company A rescheduled my onsite interview at short notice for a month later (which is this Friday).

In the meantime, I had my onsite with Company B and received an offer, with a speedy reply expected from me (certainly couldn't delay it a month); it was good enough to quit my current job (so technically I am unemployed, having served my notice period). Still, my employment with Company B isn't 100% until I sign their non-compete agreement, and they won't show me their non-compete (nor give me an opportunity to sign it) until a few days before my start date.

My start date with Company B is scheduled shortly after my onsite with Company A; I'm told to expect a hiring decision from Company A about a week after the onsite. I'm currently in the process of relocating to the city that contains both Company A and Company B, with a small financial grant from Company B to support the move (which I will fully forfeit back to Company B if I renege).

In the event of an offer from Company A, I have no problem reneging on Company B, or quitting Company B very early on. Company A would likely be offering much better working conditions and work-life balance, about 20% higher pay, and far better career prospects. I'm comfortable burning bridges with Company B, as I'd have no reason to return to them once working at Company A.

My question concerns the optics of my position when I go onsite with Company A. I expect interviewers to ask me questions that - answered truthfully - will reveal that I've quit my previous job, accepted an offer from Company B, accepted relocation assistance from Company B (which I'm happy to refund if I renege), and may potentially renege on Company B at short notice if the opportunity arises. I would never volunteer this information, but I do expect them to ask.

In short, how will this situation look to technical interviewers from Company A if presented truthfully and without significant twisting of words? Should I be concerned about it harming my chances of receiving an offer from Company A, or even burning bridges with Company A?

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    You should avoid the situation where you indicate you are willing to reneging on a company, a week after you start the job since that indicates you might do it to them also. You should avoid that situation alltogether. – Ramhound Sep 11 '18 at 20:12
  • I wonder why the downvotes, this seems like a clear question to me ... – DarkCygnus Sep 11 '18 at 20:51
  • Will take an edit to your post though KnightFork, as it has many details not so relevant to the problem. Please feel free to edit it again afterwards if I skipped any relevant parts. – DarkCygnus Sep 11 '18 at 20:53
  • Out of curiosity, what questions would an interviewer ask that would force you to divulge that information? The question "Why are you interested in our company, given your location thousands of miles away?" can be easily answer with truth: you're moving to the city seeking better employment opportunities. – TheIronCheek Sep 11 '18 at 21:25
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    I'm suspicious of any form that they expect you to sign as part of the offer but won't give you a look at ahead of time. – David Thornley Sep 11 '18 at 22:01
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In short, how will this situation look to technical interviewers from Company A if presented truthfully and without significant twisting of words? Should I be concerned about it harming my chances of receiving an offer from Company A, or even burning bridges with Company A?

It will look bad. Yes, you should be very concerned.

You indicate here that you have no problem "reneging on Company B, or quitting Company B very early on". If Company A gets a sense of that, why should they believe you won't do exactly the same to them?

Most companies, upon learning that you have accepted an offer elsewhere will immediately drop you from consideration.

But it appears that you feel you have a "technical loophole" here in that you don't feel officially part of the company until you sign their non-compete agreement. That seems counter to the fact that you have a start date and have accepted relocation assistance from Company B already. And of course you use the words "accepted an offer from Company B", "renege" and "quit early on". I suspect if you tried to convey that to Company A they would still drop you from consideration.

  • So to put it bluntly, the professional thing to do here would be to cancel the onsite with Company A and go full steam ahead with Company B? – KnightFork Sep 11 '18 at 21:40
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In addition to how this would be perceived by the hiring team at company A, remember that you wouldn't just be reneging on Company B. You would also be reneging on an offer from a hiring manager at Company B who probably considered multiple candidates before extending you said offer. It's possible that you may cross paths with that hiring manager (or somebody else affected by this situation) sometime later in your career.

Hiring managers tend to remember things like that, and even if you don't cross paths directly with that manager, you don't want to be remembered as that candidate who reneged on our offer.

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On the whole, I would agree with the answer by Joe Strazzere, but there is one thing that is a red flag to me:

Still, my employment with Company B isn't 100% until I sign their non-compete agreement, and they won't show me their non-compete (nor give me an opportunity to sign it) until a few days before my start date.

In your position, I would be worried about what was in that agreement. There is always the possibility that you will look at it and decide you cannot agree to it.

So I would be inclined to carry on with company A, telling them that you are considering an offer from company B. That way, you have a fallback if the non-compete agreement turns out to be unacceptable.

  • I agree, it's ungentlemanly of them and I'm more than a little worried about what's in that agreement. Unfortunately, as Joe Strazzere pointed out, the fact that I've quit my job and begun relocating is a pretty firm testament that I've agreed to go through with it anyway. I think I may be past the point where I could reasonably use the non-compete as an excuse to consider the offer to be pending rather than accepted. – KnightFork Sep 11 '18 at 22:46
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    I strongly disagree. You should never put yourself in the position of feeling that you are forced to accept any deal which is overly burdensome on you when the other part did not provide all of the pertinent information ahead of time. Now, sure if it turns out the non-compete is all pretty standard stuff then it would be unfair to turn them down after initiating relocation proceedings. However, if the non-compete is horrendously imbalanced in the company's favour, don't hesitate for a second to turn it down if you feel that's best for you. – delinear Sep 12 '18 at 15:12

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