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I was being interviewed by Alpha Inc. while still employed by BetaCorp. Alpha Inc's interview process took several weeks and, between the second and third interview, BetaCorp and I parted ways.

When should I have told Alpha Inc. that I had left BetaCorp? While several trusted friends pointed out that I didn't have to let Alpha Inc know about my employment situation change, I suspect part of Alpha Inc's hesitation in moving faster with me was due to their belief that I was still actively with BetaCorp. I also felt weird about not letting them know sooner. It felt ethically gray, so I'm curious what pro recruiters / hiring managers would say they prefer. I definitely want to know for next time, should I find myself in the same relative situation.

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    Why did you leave BetaCorp? That might have a big influence on what you should say, if anything. – Mark Rushakoff Jun 21 '13 at 2:37
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    @MarkRushakoff BetaCorp and I agreed it was time for me to move on. It was wholly unrelated to Alpha Inc. and I starting our talks. – user9596 Jun 21 '13 at 13:53
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    @JoeStrazzere You're right, it's totally a euphemism. – user9596 Jun 21 '13 at 15:01
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    Comments are not for discussion or semi answers. They are for clarification to the question. Please limit comments to that. If you want to answer the question then post an answer. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 22 '13 at 13:12
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First off, this is not really a grey area -- you are under no obligation to keep them informed about your employment status. It starts and ends with honesty, so don't worry about having done something wrong, unless you lied to them.

Secondly, there isn't a hard and fast rule, that we can give and you can apply. Whether you should inform them or not really depends upon their reaction to being informed, which we have no good way of predicting.

If you are on their short list and they are hesitating because they need someone sooner rather than later, telling them is probably going to be good. If they are considering you, but aren't in a rush, telling them could make you look irresponsible, not a good thing.

You have to decide whether it will help or not, and if it will, how soon you should inform them -- I would suggest no sooner than a couple of days after you have made the decision to leave.

  • @JoeStrazzere: since they understand that your circumstances may change, and it doesn't effect your ability to do the job, yes. Consider, would you bother updating your name with them if you got married and changed it after the interview? And if you did, would it be because you wanted them to use the new name, or because you thought it would be lying to not give them the new name? – jmoreno Jun 21 '13 at 17:25
  • @JoeStrazzere - Reasons for leaving a job isn't as big an issue as you're making it out to be, unless the reason is because you've done something illegal. The very fact that you're interviewing for a position tells anyone involved that you're planning on leaving your current company for one reason or another. Whether it's sooner rather than later is generally irrelevant (unless the hesitation is due to time constraints, as mentioned in the answer). – Shauna Jun 21 '13 at 19:25
  • @JoeStrazzere: the interview is over. If they want to check up and see if something has changed after the interview, they certainly can. But no one is obligated to keep them informed, absent an agreement to do so. – jmoreno Jun 21 '13 at 23:11
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I went to work for a company in the middle of 1992, which was a period of time the US had just started recovering from a recession. Six weeks after I started the VPs showed up from the home office, told all of us there was a hiring freeze, some layoffs might be necessary, and the company was undergoing a cash crunch. Within a few days, I had my resume circulating. The company recovered it's composure somewhat, and I worked for well over a year, but every quarter the company was laying off people.

In one interview, I was told I was at the top of the list, and once the owner had checked references I could come in and fill out the paperwork. While he was doing that, I was let go as part of a companywide layoff in the now former employer. When I showed up at the new employer's office, the owner asked me why I wasn't working anymore. I told him I had seen this coming for a long time - that's why I was out looking for work.

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