I recently switched to a very well-known successful company, and now my current team has 1 open Software Dev role. I sent the description to two of my former coworkers (who are both still at my previous company), without expecting both of them to be interested. [Side comment - There are no non-competes preventing me from recruiting them].

Turns out they both would like to interview. It feels wrong that I accidentally pitted two coworkers against each other for the job. They are each unaware that the other person will be interviewing for that role, too.

  1. If this would happen in the future, is it more ethical (or nicer) to only send to one coworker at a time, and only to others if the first one isn't interested?

  2. Both of these people are pretty qualified, and it's likely that one of them will get the job. How can I mitigate any backlash (or relationship damage) when the unsuccessful one discovers that his coworker just got the job he wanted?

  • 4
    Why do you think treating both of them equally (giving them both information about a job opening you think they're qualified for) is worse than choosing to give only one of them the information and only giving the second person a chance if the first person didn't want the job?
    – ColleenV
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 17:00
  • If you are friends with both, definitely let them know so that they can cooperate in their job search or salary negotiation, if they both reach that stage. Assuming here the company can afford this outcome, since they're well known. This is best for everyone IMO, and you were still doing a favor for the one who doesn't get the job.
    – Pete W
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 17:27
  • 1
    How is this unethical? Why would there be any backlash? Did you make an unauthorized promise to both of them that they would get the job? If you simply reached out to them both and gave them a heads up about the job, I see nothing unethical or untoward about it.
    – joeqwerty
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 0:27

2 Answers 2


This is not your problem, you don't decide who is hired.

  • 1
    I love it when the simple answer is the correct one!
    – Neo
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 11:51
  • And it's not like the OP is "rescuing" his former co-worker and leaving the other one to die. I assume they're still gainfully employed and is happy, so it's not exactly the end of the world even if they found out.
    – Nelson
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 2:04

It sounds from your question like if one of them gets the job, the other will find out. 3 seconds later they'll also find out you told both about the job. So hiding it isn't an option.

So your best bet is to be ethical and open.

Tell each, "by the way, I circulated the job to a few other contacts and friends", and explain you are a bit embarrassed because you didn't really know if any would be interested but it turns out more than one is. Laugh it off a bit, by shrugging and saying, "at least I'm not the one who makes the decision, I'd hate to choose between friends who mean a lot to me and I'd refuse to do so."

Beyond that is down to your knowledge of your friends and how to best talk to each. But that's the general idea.

Next time or in future, tell anyone you like, but also tell them, "By the way, for openness if you're interested in it, I ought to mention, I've told a couple of friends about it, but it would be really nice to work with you......" That'll cover you enough.

  • There's nothing to be embarrassed about. c36 told them about a job opening. They didn't promise they would get the job.
    – thelem
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 21:46
  • The OP uses the term "backlash" or "relationship damage". I feel the term embarrassment is a word I'd use in the context. Of course you might pick a word you prefer, or tell your friends "So? I didn't promise you'd get the job.". But that's my choice.
    – Stilez
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 23:32

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