I am applying for a promotion within my department. The process involves interviewing with several managers. Upon receiving my interview schedule I discovered that some of the interviewers are actually eligible candidates that are also considering applying for the promotion. They were provided my complete resume and all of the information that an interviewer would have in preparation. This puts me at a disadvantage or allows them to poison the well if or when they decide to apply. Is this a common practice?

  • 6
    Why aren't you interviewing anyone?
    – user8365
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 2:17
  • In what jurisdiction? IANAL, but I do not believe this is illegal in most places.
    – Telastyn
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 2:19
  • While this does seem to be a rather strange situation, there is probably little you can do about it. I would ask if you could interview the other candidates for the job as well; this would at least put everyone on the same playing field. I'm not entirely sure what you are trying to find out here as your only question, Is this an illegal practice? is off topic here. See the FAQ: workplace.stackexchange.com/…
    – token
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 3:32
  • 2
    I can't imagine why this would be illegal anywhere. Strange, uncomfortable, and probably not the best way to get the best people, but illegal? Why? Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 13:07
  • 1
    I edited your last sentence to keep the relevant meaning for us while removing the legal bits which we try to avoid if at all possible
    – Zelda
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 18:30

3 Answers 3


This is a very odd situation, which can also be seen as quite unfair.

If you feel uncomfortable about it, or don't trust your colleagues to remain professional, then I would suggest speaking to a HR manager/senior manager to request if your colleagues could be left out of the interviews due to a conflict of interest.

  • 6
    +1 for this. If you raise the issue of conflicting interests to HR, they'll most likely act upon it. There's nothing they want less than allegations or a sense of unfair promotion practices.
    – pap
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 11:07

Upon receiving my interview schedule I discovered that some of the interviewers are actually eligible candidates that are also considering applying for the promotion.

I think the key here is 'considering'. If the parties who scheduled the interview were absolutely aware that these interviewers were active candidates for the job, or if they were aware that these interviewers were even considering throwing their hats into the ring, then I would expect they would/should not be involved in the process. This is also assuming that the company has a large enough number of employees to choose from for the interview panel. At a smaller company, there may be few options.

As others have mentioned, going to HR is another option. Depending on the size of the company, you may want to be careful about that, as you may be seen as someone who is 'telling' on your competitors before anything has even happened. If the other candidates have not come forward yet and you only know they are considering applying from personal conversations, I'd be careful with what you say at this point. Good luck!


I think there's a lot of potential variance on this. I have interviewed for a position where a number of people in the team interviewing me were also qualified for the job - in tech work where the nature of seniority means that a high level engineer may be a great subject matter expert and a poor manager - or vice versa. On paper, they may even both look the same. So just because someone in the existing group was qualified (and even interested) didn't mean that it was the perfect match.

And if they haven't applied yet, they aren't technically a candidate.

I think you have to trust that:

  • if everyone is ethical, even your competition will be looking for the right guy for the job and won't be trying to bury you just because you are competition.

  • if the hiring manager is at all savy, he can read his own people well enough to see if someone is trying to poison the well.

  • if both of the above statements are false (unethical employees, obtuse manager) - this may not be a place you want to work, anyway.

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