Our organization usually interviews all new employees who join our organization's partner firms. However, one individual who came to us to be interviewed by us had already received an offer from a partner firm but had not officially joined it as yet - during the interview, the person asks if there is an opening in my organization.

It so happens that we do have an opening and that the person is actually is a better fit for our position. Is it ethical of us to interview the person for our own organization and grab that person for ourselves?

  • So you are another company, and the employee that was newly hired at a company you are doing business with wants to come work for you instead? Sounds like the makings of a souring business relationship between your two companies. May 9, 2014 at 20:39
  • Yes., But they never can know we hired the person., He may be hired into different project. And the person eager to take offer with our organisation
    – Elisa
    May 9, 2014 at 20:41
  • 1
    "They never can know we hired the person" - assume they'll find out eventually and base your decision on that. May 9, 2014 at 21:28
  • Ethical? No, but that's subjective. Wise? Is getting the employee more important than having a good relationship with them? Then there's your answer. Legal? I think we'll need to know a bit more about the partnership. Is there perhaps an agreement that prevents this? If you interview people for them, there likely is, whether implicit or explicit. Is there a non-competition agreement - someone working for one firm can't work for the other within a few years, or perhaps the firm just can't approach someone working in the other firm. May 9, 2014 at 21:41
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    The candidate approached you. Is it ethical for you to deny them the opportunity to decide for themselves which firm they'd rather work at? I think not.
    – aroth
    May 10, 2014 at 11:46

2 Answers 2


Has this person you want to hire already accepted the job at the partner firm? If not, she is behaving ethically by seeking to work with you. She's expected to maximize her pay and job satisfaction while looking for a job, as long as she doesn't break promises.

You didn't mention the reason your organization interviews people who join partner firms. Does your org have the right to blackball people if they do poorly at your interviews, even when a partner firm has already decided to hire? Is your purpose to help partner firms decide wisely? Is this a way to help potential employees understand their jobs better?

At any rate, if the interview you do is a genuine interview and not some kind of training exercise or sham interview, it's clear that your company, your partner firm, and the candidate are all open to having the outcome of the hiring decision changed as a result of your interview. Fitting a candidate to the best job for her is in fact an excellent outcome.

It's possible that the agreement by which you do this interviewing for partners implies that you should not grab the partner firm candidates. So, it may be that you are "poaching" this person if you hire her. But you're not doing anything dishonest. It should not damage your business relationship.

If it's a serious issue your organization can make this right by offering to pay your partner firm the cost of finding and recruiting this candidate. Or, you can send other qualified candidates to that firm.

What will damage your relationship is keeping secrets from the partner firm. Please don't try to do that. It won't work for long. Also, please don't try to force the candidate to take a job that's not ideal for her. That never works out well for long.


First, congratulations on posting a question about ethics that is actually about ethics!

Your first duty is to your client organization. You have taken their money to advance their interests, and that must therefore be your first concern. IF the candidate declines their offer, then it would be ethical to offer your position to the candidate.

Doing so beforehand, or even mentioning that there is a position would be unethical, as you are not advancing your client's interests, but rather your own.

  • partner is not the same as client unless the OP has rather poor English
    – Pepone
    Feb 1, 2015 at 14:00

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