I am presently interning at a company as a part of my B.Tech curriculum. This is my final semester, and once this internship ends that is the end of my B.Tech degree.

One of my B Tech colleagues also works here, and HR has informed me that while I will be hired once the internship ends, he will not be. They have also asked me to keep this information to myself, as they don't want him to lose focus.

I believe he has the right to know, but in the past he has acted irrationally, and I suspect that he would confront HR with this information. Should I let him know - which also endangers my chances here - or should I go along with what is happening and not let him know to look for other jobs until it's too late?

  • 2
    @UKMonkey The fact that the other intern will not get hired isn't personal information, it's a decision taken by HR and I'm not sure why they wouldn't be allowed to share it with whomever they choose.
    – Jemox
    Apr 8, 2019 at 15:55
  • @UKMonkey "HR will have it on file that they're not going to be offered a position" It won't be on any filing system that could be traced, until they have actually given the person notice. Not unless HR are incompetent, anyway - but that is a dangerous assumption to make. In the real world the effect of things like GDPR is to make more information untraceable, not less. It's HR's job to figure out how to get around legislation they don't like!
    – alephzero
    Apr 8, 2019 at 17:54
  • 1
    shouldn't title be "about Firing"? Apr 8, 2019 at 21:59
  • 5
    @aaaaaa I don't see why. One person is getting hired and another is not. No one is getting fired.
    – forest
    Apr 9, 2019 at 0:35
  • 1
    Remember, this is not a big deal anyway. It's just an internship. He will be fine.
    – Battle
    Apr 10, 2019 at 7:42

9 Answers 9


First of all, what I believe, HR should not have disclosed this information in first place.

However, given the situation, I strongly suggest not to disclose it. As I read it, it's still a company secret (yet to be revealed officially), so not your place to reveal it.

Alongside that, it's a good chance to teach yourself how to handle the confidential information. I'd not say this is a good example for the exercise, however, make the best out of it.

That said, maybe I'm overthinking this, but given that

I believe he has the right to know but in the past he has acted irrationally with information and I suspect that if I tell him he will confront the HR with the same information.

this can be case where you are being tested on how you handle confidential information revealed to you by chance and how compliant you are with InfoSec (Information Security) policies.

  • 11
    I think there can be valid reasons why HR could share this information. 1. If there is only one position to fill and two interns, one getting the position implies the other one not getting it - making it explicit not to tell the other one prevents a slip. -- 2. They could be sharing certain workloads/projects, which OP needs to take over - early information will help him to do this, before the other one might throw a tantrum, ...
    – Falco
    Apr 8, 2019 at 14:02

HR told you not to tell him

You're saying telling him is a bad idea.

And you're asking should I tell him?

What do you think?

Edit: Best not to overthink this issue. I think with a little bit of common sense you can see the answer has already been given to you.

Best not to tell him.

  • 71
    There are hundreds of questions on this site where the asker overthinks some issue even if it is obvious to others what to do. I feel answers like this aren't helpful in any way in those situations. To me it even looks like you are kind of mocking OP for not seeing the obvious. If the answer were that obvious to OP, they wouldn't have asked.
    – kapex
    Apr 8, 2019 at 11:50
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    Besides OP is taking into consideration the ethical implications of their actions. From a purely egoistic standpoint the choice is clear to them as well, as shown from "I believe he has the right to know" versus "which also endangers my chances here". Apr 8, 2019 at 13:57
  • 7
    This answer, while making a valid point, does come across as a bit harsh. Can you work on that part of the answer?
    – Neo
    Apr 8, 2019 at 17:38
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    @MisterPositive It makes a counter question, implying that the answer is obvious. OP came on forum to find out what others think, not to get patronized. There is nothing to work on here, really.
    – user100470
    Apr 8, 2019 at 20:23
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    @Atizs It also comes across as sarcastic and condescending.
    – Neo
    Apr 8, 2019 at 20:28

HR seemed to be honest with you, they trusted you. As you describe the situation, you cannot do much to help your colleague.

But if you inform him, there is a significant chance that you shoot yourself in the foot. As you already fear, HR will find out, and they will surely not be happy.

In life, some things happen, and you cannot save everybody. Sad, but true. Let your colleague deal with his own problems, you deal with yours.

  • That is the inclination I have as well, had he been rational in the past I would have hinted him to start looking for other jobs, but that hasn't been his record.
    – anon
    Apr 8, 2019 at 5:43
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    Exactly as you say: he is not even to be trusted with the information. One very good reason to care about yourself first.
    – virolino
    Apr 8, 2019 at 5:50
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    Let's be more blunt here: if HR has told you to keep it to yourself, they can still rescind your offer if you don't comply. And in their shoes, frankly, I would too
    – user90842
    Apr 8, 2019 at 18:07

You should not tell your colleague.

It's not your responsibility to tell them. Given that you called this person a colleague rather than friend, you don't seem to have emotional closeness to this person. You don't owe them anything. One of the best skills for a professional is discerning when it's best to mind your own business.

Additionally, just because someone from HR told you, doesn't mean it's necessarily true. If you can't verify it, it's just gossip. Another great skill that will increase your professional value is not spreading gossip.


I see two problem statements here -

  • You know something which you should not have known. Somebody breached the rule and told you some information which you should protect now. My Suggestion is don't tell it to your friend or else he and you both will be in trouble. Even if you tell him this information, it is not going to help him out. He will confront HR and lose reference as well. He wasn't getting the job anyway.
  • 2nd, you want to help your colleague. Don't even hint it to the other person if he is not very close to him. Now, I would tell him that it is always a good idea to keep a backup plan if you don't get the job with the current organization. Also include that if offered, your first preference to take the job here. Again, don't bring up this conversation by yourself, but don't be afraid to tell him above in case he looks worried. If your colleague is not smart enough to take the hint, it is not your problem anymore.

I definitely agree you should not tell the colleague, and that it could be a test.

Now, if you really feel bad about it, you might go side ways about it and tell the colleague how you are yourself looking for other opportunities just in case you wouldn't get hired. Might be seen as a lie, but actually might even be something good for your to do: until you have a signed contract in your hands, you're not hired.

  • 4
    if the plan is to accept an offer i would avoid actively telling any colleagues that you are looking to find other roles, that kind of thing will get back to the higher ups and could cost you the position you would of otherwise been offered.
    – J.Doe
    Apr 8, 2019 at 11:42
  • This was also what I was thinking, but I would frame it more like "Hey have you been looking around for any other jobs after this internship is over?" More of a hint that he should be looking rather than outright tell him that you are looking.
    – JPhi1618
    Apr 8, 2019 at 17:52
  • That should be a -response- to the other intern bringing up the topic, not something the OP brings up spontaneously. Unless he's a very good liar indeed and certain he can pull it off, and even then the other intern is bound to wonder why the OP would bring this up
    – user90842
    Apr 8, 2019 at 18:09

Do not tell him, because there is:

  1. No moral obligation to tell him - Since when do individuals have a moral right to know about their future at the company, instantly upon its being decided? It's not your job, not your information, & not your decision to disclose.

  2. No practical reason to tell him - What I've not seen other answers mention is that once he finds out, he has no reason to believe that you knew the information, and therefore no reason to ask you if you did know it. Since your possession of this information is both improper & unlikely, you don't have to fear a confrontation with him once he learns that he's not hired. In fact, if you tell him & he confronts HR as you suspect, you have probably sabotaged your future at the company.

Interns should feel no guarantee of future hire unless one is given by the company, therefore no injustice is being done to this man by not hiring him.


Remember that scene from Matrix movie? About Neo visiting Oracle, once he quits Morpheus stopped Neo's attempt to share the visit results: "What was said was for you and for you alone".

So, you should take into account that HR can simply...

  • ... check you "does he able to keep things in secret"
  • ... trying to manipulate you "let him feel his importance, like he's Chosen one"
  • And many other things you have no clue about yet

Anyway, from my point, this situation is not a good sign. Stay sharp.


Tell your colleague, that HR told you this and wanted you to keep it secret.

Being left in the cold without a job after this internship is going to negatively affect him, and he is going to be jobless whatever you do. By doing this you are giving him a chance to save his career, and in doing so you will earn a loyal ally.

You may also want to consider that the company you want to work for just disclosed that they are willing to lead people on about future oppertunities for the company's benefit.

If you want to run to the edge of the chopping block after watching someone slide off the knife; that's your prerogative but I wouldn't.

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