DISCLAIMER: in order to avoid as much as possible subjective views (I'd like an objective view on the matter), I am on purpose not writing any "question-background".

After having read "How can one resign from a new job gracefully?", I would like to understand if a proper (professional/ethical) approach like the one described in the answers to that question can be applied to the following case:

  • People are getting fired, so Mr. A begins to look for a job. He is eventually contacted by a company for an interview
  • Mr. B goes to Mr. A and asks if he wants to stay. Mr. A says "yes" out of fear of not having a job anymore and Mr. B says "ok, then you stay"
  • Mr. A will not stay if the interview results in a contract, but has no hard-feelings with any colleague (including Mr. B), and doesn't want to disappoint them

Are professional bridges going to burn, or is there a least destructive exit-strategy for Mr. A? Is that even an ehtical thing to do? Will Mr. A's career be affected by this choice?

  • 7
    You don't know if you will get a job offer today or 6 months from now. There's nothing wrong with keeping the job until you get an opportunity to move on.
    – Snowlockk
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 8:41
  • Suppose that Mr. A knows that, but the fact that Mr. B asked explicitly could be interpreted (from Mr. B's side) as "hey I'm giving you a chance here", which would eventually lead to "how could you do this to me"? Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 8:45
  • 3
    Isn't your basic question covered by How to respond if boss asks if I'm looking for a new job?
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 8:56
  • 1
    @Noldor130884 I'm not sure what that means. That question can use better answers (which is why I slapped a bounty on it) but the general question seems to match yours.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 8:59
  • 4
    Can we drop the A and B stuff already? This is just confusing. If your question is "My boss asked me if I was looking to leave and I said no, did I do the right thing?" then that's difficult to answer. The answers on the linked question state (or should state) that asking this as a boss is itself unprofessional as it's putting people on the spot and usually no one would give an honest answer there. If your question is how to (eventually) break the news that you're leaving and explain why you lied then that is a question worth answering and sufficiently different from the linked one.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 9:31

1 Answer 1


I am missing what the ethical dilemma is here. I have bills to pay and a family to support, I don't have a signed contract with another company in my back pocket ready to whip out. If someone came to my desk right now and asked if I wanted to leave I would say no, even if I had applied for other positions. Mr A currently has nothing other than an interview so until that situation changes his intention is to stay.

Essentially the question (as presented) by Mr B is unfair, no one in their right mind is going to turn round and say they fully intend to leave. The company is laying people off, staff are going to be unsettled this is a totally natural human reaction.

Without knowing Mr B it is impossible to say if Mr A will burn a bridge with him. However he shouldn't be so naive as to not expect staff to jump after a round of redundancies. Mr A should continue with his interview and if successful should serve his notice to the letter of his contract. He shouldn't act contrite with Mr B or behave in a guilty manner.

Since we don't know what industry Mr A works in or the influence that Mr B might hold it is again very hard to say if this will have any impact on his career. Once Mr A starts working for a new company he could just choose not to use Mr B as a reference in future. If Mr B is particularly influential this might be a negative if a glowing reference from him might open doors.

Finally Mr A needs to ask himself this, did his company announce to staff three months before they fired people that financially it wasn't looking good and people will probably have to leave? No, I imagine they waited until the right time for them to disclose this information at very little notice for those who were let go.

All of this is completely hypothetical of course because as stated Mr A has nothing at the moment so there is no conversation to be had until that changes.

  • 1
    I think this covers all I meant to understand. Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 9:35

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