2

I manage a small team of juniors in a midsize company. We are recruiting interns for 6 month internships for their graduation projects with the promise to hire them later. Which is a standard practice in my country. Interns will be starting in about 3 months.
I am starting to look for another job and in my current company there is not someone else who can properly train these interns/ help them succeed in their projects (that are necessary for their graduation).
Now I am tasked with passing interviews, select the best candidates and convince them to joining us.

On one hand, as an employee I should help the company recruit the best possible candidates. On the other side promising people that I will train them while I know I will not be there for the whole 6 months feels unethical.

Note 1: My company doesn't know I am looking for a new job.
Note 2: My notice period is 0 days (both ways).

  • Should I let people I interview know I am leaving and there won't be anyone to properly train them?
  • Should I let my company know I am looking for a new job and see if they still want interns ? which may impact me negatively: bonuses/contract renewal/possible termination etc ..
  • Should I simply keep silent and look out for myself?

What is the most ethical thing to do?

2
  • 5
    Just to check - you're saying that it's a midsized company, and you're literally the only one there who can teach interns? And you're suggesting that the company would not be able to quickly hire someone to replace you who could do the job instead? Because if those two things are not both true, then your concern here just evaporates.
    – Ben Barden
    Nov 12 '21 at 19:16
  • 1
    Related: Should I tell my boss I'm leaving before going job-hunting? In summary: don't tell your company that you're looking for a job. Telling that to interviewees when you haven't told the company is probably something I'd personally classify as gross misconduct.
    – NotThatGuy
    Nov 13 '21 at 4:07
16

Option 4, look after the best interests of the company. Until you have accepted a job offer you should continue to act in the best interest of the company which is to continue with the practice of identifying and recruiting the best possible candidates.

Your job hunt may take longer than you expect, or another opportunity at your current company may come up.

If you do manage to find a new role, it is not your responsibility to worry about how the company will replace your duties.

3
  • Drawing in a bunch of interns who cannot be properly provided for (and therefore who cannot achieve reasonable success) might not be in the best interests of the company. The whole reason the company wants this is that they think he'll be there to handle the interns later.
    – Ben Barden
    Nov 12 '21 at 17:17
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    Staff turnover is a part of doing business, companies hire in the capabilities that they don't already possess. The OP, by his own estimation, may be the only person currently who is able to provide for interns but that doesn't mean that that the company should not follow through on recruiting graduates, a key recruitment pipeline, in their country because they are considering leaving.
    – DWGKNZ
    Nov 12 '21 at 18:21
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    It's common for people to believe they're the only person in the company who knows anything or can do anything; and yet most companies continue even after that person leaves. It's possibly not in the company's interest to take on interns they can't do anything with (even if they're not paid, interns require expenses such as time, office space, and resources) but that's a separate question to the OP's.
    – Stuart F
    Nov 12 '21 at 18:46
9

This is not an uncommon struggle especially among individuals who feel a distinct connection with the work they do and the people that work for/with them. It's a good sign in a manager that you care for the individuals under your charge.

In this case, the problem is the ownership you attach to your responsibilities here. You really shouldn't be promising that you will train these individuals personally because that does set a very specific expectation that can possibly feel rancorous if it doesn't come to fruition. It is not untrue to tell candidates that they'll receive training because it is the company's responsibility to provide that training. At the moment that responsibility is designated to you, but in your absence it will go to someone else.

While you're still an employee of the company you have a responsibility to do what is best for the company in the role that you're in. You haven't found a job, and you haven't given notice, so your responsibility is to share the truth as it is represented today.

Do not promise things in the recruitment process that you know can't be true. Make sure to speak on behalf the company and its responsibility to candidates instead of your own personal ownership of your team and roles.

5
  • I believe the implication of OP's post was that their company was unlikely to have anyone capable of training the interns in the event of their departure. The skill set simply isn't there.
    – Ben Barden
    Nov 12 '21 at 17:14
  • @BenBarden: That may very well be the case, and it doesn't change that the company has a responsibility to accomplish it. OP is still only committing that the company will meet its obligations. It's not their responsibility to identify how. Nov 12 '21 at 17:18
  • ...except that, as far as we can tell, the company will not be able to meet those obligations, and the OP is the only person who knows this. That means that in some ways, he really does have meaningful responsibilities to consider here.
    – Ben Barden
    Nov 12 '21 at 17:19
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    @BenBarden: The responsibility is to the company not the candidate. I agree with you that OP has a responsibility to point out the single point of failure to the company. I don't agree that it impacts the recruitment process. Nov 12 '21 at 18:05
  • The OP can exercise their responsibilities to the interns by getting the company in a position where they can train the interns. Maybe if the company was shutting down or closing their department, there would be more of an ethical issue in recruiting interns, but the company will continue and hire staff to replace people who leave, particularly if that person leaving has skills that are nowhere else in the company.
    – Stuart F
    Nov 12 '21 at 18:40
0

Are you so certain that you will be successful in your own job hunt? You seem quite certain that you will have a better job to move to in less than 9 months of job hunting while also holding down a full-time position.

  • If you really are quite certain that you can get a job quickly, then telling your boss about your intention of leaving is less costly. It's less time for the "bonus/contract renewal/termination" thing to matter.

  • If you are not certain... then you can speak of it with the interns in hypotheticals. Don't tell them that you are looking for a job, but it does seem reasonable to warn them that you are the only person at your workplace capable of training them, and that if something happens to you they may face some difficulties. It would let you split the difference a bit.

As another bit of perspective... would your company gain notable benefit from having good interns if you weren't there to train them? If so, it's just a matter of being asked (unintentionally) to interview and hire people who will not be well-served by the position. That's still a moral issue, but it's a reasonably common one. If not, then not hiring these people is actually in your company's best interests, and that's worth taking into account.

0

As others have pointed out, there are various reasons you should act as if you are not leaving, including that you are not certain to leave before you finish training the interns.

However, even if you had no intention of leaving the job, other events could occur that would leave you (and, if unprepared, the company) unable to train the interns. It even sounds as if this might leave the company unable to perform at least some of your other management duties as well. Regardless of whether you're planning to leave or not, you and the company should be planning for these contingencies anyway.

So what you should do is: 1) hire the interns under the assumption that, whether you leave or not, the company will perform its training obligations, and 2) also work with your management colleagues to reduce improve the "bus factor," i.e. mitigate the harm that would occur within the company should you (or others) be hit by a bus.

You can present short-term absences not just as something that might occur ("what if I get sick for two weeks?") but also as something that you expect to occur ("what if I take a holiday for two weeks?"), and even if the mitigation for those is not what you would want for a permanent absence, at least it's something (at least providing some breathing time for the company in the event of a permanent absence). Also, presenting this sort of planning as a standard thing to be done for all staff will be less likely to raise suspicion that you're doing this because you plan to leave.

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