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I have been casually looking around for a new job for a few months now and had some Skype interviews so far. One of the companies I interviewed with flew me in for an on-site interview last week.

We had a series of interview rounds with short coffee breaks in between. When I was drinking coffee and chatting with the recruiter, I saw my current manager pass by in the hallway being escorted by one of the interviewers that had interviewed me just before. I am pretty sure he saw me as well, but we did not acknowledge each other.

I did relatively well in the interviews and they want to proceed with another round with a hiring manager, however I realized that I am probably not a good fit for their culture, so I plan on staying for a while longer at my current gig.

I am pretty sure that my boss was there for interviews as well as I do not see any other convincing reasons he would be there otherwise (the two companies are direct competitors in several key areas and the interview was in a different state).

I never told or otherwise indicated to my boss that I was looking around. My question is: should I bring it up with my boss next time we meet or just pretend it never happened.

  • 9
    what is your relationship with manager? how long you've worked together – aaaaaa Mar 4 at 19:23
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    3 years and we get along well enough, but we don't really discuss anything beyond my direct duties and the upcoming work. – user100865 Mar 4 at 19:25
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    Aside: what a complete screw up by the hiring company's HR department. – Philip Kendall Mar 4 at 19:41
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    @PhilipKendall It was a 2-day hiring event with a bunch of candidates (20+), so I guess it would be hard to completely avoid if you want to interview multiple people who happen to work for the same company. It's unlikely they would know that I report to him. – user100865 Mar 5 at 1:08
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    @Pharap Two candidates who (fairly) obviously knew each other were in the building at the same time. It's fine to know other people are applying for the same job as you, it causes problems if you know your boss / coworker is applying for the same job as you. – Philip Kendall Mar 6 at 10:14
194

What would you have to gain?

You saw them. They saw you. Both of you knew why you were there. Both of you were probably at least a bit embarrassed about it. Bringing it up just means dredging through the embarrassment again, to no apparent gain. Better to remain silent and pretend it didn't happen. Maybe allow yourself a wry shared smile, or something.

If you can come up with something meaningful that you'd actually gain from it, though, it could be worthwhile to approach it. For example, you now know that your boss is looking. If you happen to notice an opening that they'd be a good fit for, and you can pass it to them discreetly, then that sort of thing might be appropriate.

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If anyone should be saying something it should be him.

Let him come to you.

If he doesn't, ignore what happened.

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    Well quite possible the boss will be accepting the new position while OP is not. So I doubt they will say anything. Maybe you should elaborate on the "it should be him" part? I don't fully see why. – Pierre Arlaud Mar 5 at 9:10
  • @PierreArlaud Because if it matters, the manager will tell him. If it doesn't, he'll never hear about it. In either case, him approaching the manager will bring nothing good his way - if it mattered, he's just admitted to his current company that he's looking for other jobs (which may not be a smart move in certain countries), and if it didn't... why'd he bring it up if it didn't matter? – user90965 Mar 5 at 14:22
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    Only footnote: If you are currently dependent on him (due to tasks, promises) you may want to encourage documentation and knowledge sharing for that 'just in case'. Ideally initiate these things without bringing up the reason for them, other than it being a good idea in general to document and share. – Dennis Jaheruddin Mar 5 at 15:09
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Keep it to yourself. It is a very personal matter. This happens way more often than people think. I recall this happening to manager on one of the floors I worked on and the story was recounted with sinful (inappropriate) glee during a later discussion, possibly sub rosa.

It revealed in a very damaging way that things were not going well for that person, and that an ultimatum had recently fallen flat. It certainly did not make life any better for them.

13

If you're not trying to get away from your current manager, then it seems the two of you may have common interests. If you're competing for the same position, then the other answers probably apply.

But if you are not, this could be an opportunity to advance your careers together and help each other out. Moving companies together is not particularly rare--a pair that already work well together may be seen as a more appealing set of assets than two random new hires.

Reaching out to your boss, in private, may be in your interest. A simple offer to grab a drink after work, or lunch together during your break should work! Then you simply bring up that you saw each other there. If you're sure they were interviewing, then broaching the subject should be easy!

  • Interesting possibility, but you didn't answer the question. What would your advised course of action be? – Tim Grant Mar 5 at 18:42
  • @TimGrant the two would have to talk about it "back home". – RonJohn Mar 5 at 23:14
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    @TimGrant Talking about it was kind of implied, but good point. I edited that in! – Mars Mar 6 at 0:20
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Yes, talk to him. Your boss is a person too (I know!) and frankly, trying to keep this a secret is just pointless. You shouldn't shout it out in front of everyone else, but a quiet word with him when you're alone together with a veiled hint about your "day off" should be enough to inform him that you're willing to talk about it, the company, and why you all want to quit if he wants to talk about it too. if he doesn't, he'll make it clear by changing the subject.

You have nothing to gain from treating this like some dirty secret, but there's plenty that could be gained (at the very least a better relationship with your boss, assuming neither of you get the new job) by being honest (discretely, obviously).

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    I'm glad you took the time to write this point of view even though there is an accepted answer. Trustworthiness, honesty, and communication are the hallmarks of good relationships and networking. There are so many opportunities to be gained by discussing the issue and analyzing the current situation both personally and with the current company. There is a chance to make a long term connection which may help out years from now. – binarymax Mar 6 at 15:56
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    And, you never know, he might be hiring in a few years time and think of you. – ThirdPrize Mar 6 at 17:21
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At present if his manager asks him, if he know you were looking for another job etc, he can say no. After all it can not be proven he saw you. Even you saying you saw him, does not prove he saw you.

Likewise if you are asked the same question.

Be very careful before removing "plausible deniability".

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    Not sure flat-out lying constitutes applying plausible deniability. It's missing the "plausible" part. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 5 at 17:43
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit. But that sort of is the purpose of plausible deniability, isn't it? To be able to flat-out lie without anyone believing that it's a lie. – Mad Physicist Mar 5 at 19:05
  • @MadPhysicist Nope, plausible deniability is when you don't have to lie because you have arranged not to know anything incriminating in the first place. Lying without anyone believing that it's a lie is just... lying. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 5 at 20:34
  • Although, looking it up now, perhaps the term's broader than I thought. Still, there needs to be some semblance of credibility to the lie that goes beyond "you're a good liar" ;) – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 5 at 20:35
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit how would the manager know that OP is looking for a job unless he saw OP at the other company? Asking the question would be an admission that he was there too. – RonJohn Mar 5 at 23:16

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