I am applying for an internship in a tech-related field. I am applying to Company X, and hopefully will get an internship.

One of my parents though works for Company Y, a direct rival to Company X. I am hoping to use this internship to gain experience in the field I am studying.

Is this a conflict of interest? I'm a little concerned, because if they ask me this question, I really don't know what to do.

  • No, but dinner with the parents ought to be more fun. – NotMe Sep 15 '14 at 21:00

You are arms length from company Y so there should be no percieved conflict of interest. If they ask answer honestly but don't volunteer the information as it isn't to your benefit either. The one exception to this is if your parent is very high up in Company Y (owner, board of directors, CEO) then there is cause to view this as a possible conflict of interest.


First of all, Company X is responsible for telling you about their conflict of interest rules. That said, they may not be so prompt about it. I think you have three choices:

  1. Ask your parent if Company Y has any rules on hiring someone who has a parent at Company X. (There's a good chance the two companies have similar rules.)
  2. Ask HR after the interview if they have any conflict of interest rules that apply to interns. Mention that you don't think you have one, but just want to make sure.
  3. Don't say anything and assume Company X will bring it up.

Generally this is not a problem, except in a couple of situations:

  • There is a customer relationship between the two corporations and you or the relative would benefit from a strengthening of that relationship. If you work for a company as a purchaser, and the relative works for another company in sales: Your company would be concerned that you might agree to overpay so that the relative makes a larger commission.
  • One of you works for the government and the other works for a company that does work for the government. They may be using their influence to get you the job.

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