I'm looking for a job. I used to date this person who worked for a small company. He shared with me information about working there, so I have a bit of insider knowledge (I don't mean business secrets of course, but their focus points, organisation, benefits and similar).

He's left the company a few weeks ago. We are not seeing each other anymore and we don't keep in touch, but there was no drama involved in our splitting up.

I've applied for a position with the company and will have an interview shortly.

I'm quite sure they will ask me how I found them since they are small and relatively unknown. Also when answering the question on why I want to work for them, I would love to include some details they don't write about on their website.

How to answer this question smartly?

  • If I tell them I used to know a person who worked for them, they will probably ask whom I mean. I'm not dating their ex-employee anymore and he would be super surprised if he learnt I had applied there.

  • If I tell them I found them "on the internet" I will be less convincing.

  • @JoeStrazzere: No idea. He would probably be surprised. – BigMadAndy Oct 3 '18 at 15:54
  • It might be helpful to update/edit the title and content. I didn't really see any information about 'employee conditions' which is what I expected to read about; the actual question differed from that topic. – Maigen Thomas Oct 3 '18 at 17:39
  • 'fess up. Do you really want to start your career with them with a (discoverable) lie? Do you think that he never mentioned your name to anyone at work, or other stuff that could identify you (Sue the stamp collector, or whatever, that you might give away later when chatting to co-workers? They might take some time, but sooner or later someone will put two and two together. By then it probably won't matter, but there is a chance that someone remained friends & we will learn anyway that you now work there. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Oct 4 '18 at 8:33
  • What is the point of your question? It seems to be not letting your ex know that you applied/work there, or not letting the company know of your ex-relationship? Probably you have two concerns, but your question isn’t totally clear. In any case, ‘fess up – Mawg says reinstate Monica Oct 4 '18 at 8:33

Don't Mention it!

Find other reasons you want to work there and keep the other reasons to yourself.

There are other ways to secure a job and either way you will have just as much chance as any other candidate. So if you want to work there for reasons that are not published online then that's good as you'll hopefully enjoy working there just don't let the company know.

You never know whether gossip gets about and some people still keep in contact with your Ex and then you may receive questions that you don't want to answer and he may even find out and ask why you applied. Depending on the previous status of your relationship this may not end well either.

  • 2
    Agree completely. I would be more nervous about dancing around the topic of how I found them than the interview itself. – Dan Wilson Oct 3 '18 at 13:57
  • So what should you say if asked "how did you find out about us?" Pretend you found out about the company all on your own? Make up a gushing story about how you were looking for X, Y, and Z in an employer, and then you found this company because they meet all of your expectations and that you are so excited to be interviewing with them? – Brandin Oct 3 '18 at 13:59
  • @Brandin Yes. You don't apply for a position that isn't there so it must have been posted somewhere. OP can always say "I live locally" – Twyxz Oct 3 '18 at 14:01

You could say something along the lines of " A former Employee and acquaintance of yours spoke highly of that place" if you realy want to bring that up.

There are some Points to consider however:

  1. Do you know why he left the Company? It might not be wise to mention him if there was some heated stuff going on.

2.Your relationship with him is your own Business, the Company doesn't need to know you where Dating.

  1. Might not be relevant in your case but consider the Terms on which you stopped seeing each other because they might still contact him (unlikely but still)

Not revealing information is one thing, lying is something I avoid at all cost and I recommend you do the same. If they ask how you found out about them, be honest up to a point where you're not lying.

It does not matter whether an ex-employee that recommended the workplace is a random person you met at a meetup, a friend or an ex. The only thing that matters is whether the person is likely to bad-mouth you or not when asked about knowing you.

Unless you and your ex left on negative grounds I see no reason but to state the simple fact: the company got recommended to you by an ex-employee and you started looking into the company and you decided that it would be a good candidate to apply for a position and that you liked what the previous employee had to say about the company, its culture, the processes, etc.

They'll probably ask who this previous employee is. If you guys separated on positive grounds there should be no harm whatsoever revealing his name, you don't even have to mention the relationship, saying that you're acquaintances is more than sufficient.

If you don't feel comfortable sharing his name you can say that you used to date this person and unfortunately you didn't separate on positive grounds and you'd rather not reveal his identity. If they can't respect that, you'll be better off anyway if they reject you for the sole reasoning of not revealing his name.


There will be probably a question "Why you want to work for us"

And this is the place when you answer

I knew somebody working for you some time ago and they said good things about you. So when I was looking for job I checked if you we're hiring.

You don't say if that person was male or female and you mention you don't have any relationship with said person any longer. That should be enough.

  • Trying to hide whether the person was a man or a woman does not make sense. "Oh, so you know someone who worked for us. Who?" Then what will you say? – Brandin Oct 3 '18 at 14:32
  • 1
    You don't hide it. You just don't use "he/she". And you don't "know" someone, you "knew". You answet this question, why HR would want to know who you knew? – SZCZERZO KŁY Oct 3 '18 at 14:38
  • Their immediate response will be, "Oh, who was that?" – user62847 Oct 3 '18 at 15:43
  • Really? How would that be relevant to the interview? The position? The candidate? – SZCZERZO KŁY Oct 3 '18 at 15:45
  • 1
    You can also say "I prefer not to say" and leave it at that. – Maigen Thomas Oct 3 '18 at 17:38

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