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I have worked in my current position with my company as a developer for about 10 months.

There is a QA analyst on the team who is trying to become a developer. It is fairly well known on the team that he wants to be a developer. He has ambition, which I find admirable.

A little backstory: A couple weeks ago he sent me a calendar invite to do an hour of pair programming -- he gave the impression our manager had approved it and I accepted. I later came to find out that he had set it all up on his own. Consequently, the developers on the team were instructed to deny any such requests he sends and to refer him to our manager.

Today, he approached me and asked if I had a few minutes. Remembering the previous pair programming incident I immediately become wary. He informed me that he is interviewing for an open developer position on our team. Understandably, he wants to know what to expect in the interview. In particular, he wanted to know what technical questions/tests I was given. He pressed me for details and asked about several particular technologies. I didn't feel comfortable giving him any information as it very well may put him at an unfair advantage, so I must admit I lied and told him I couldn't remember when, in fact, I remember exactly all of the technical questions they asked.

Did I do right? In retrospect, I think I should have just told him I didn't feel comfortable giving him specific information (instead of lying) and that if he meets the qualifications on the job listing he should do just fine.

Would it have been unethical to tell him exactly what my technical interview questions were, as he wanted? Was it ethical of him to even ask me to do so? Or is it all no big deal?

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I have never interviewed with a company that allowed me to share what questions I had been given; in fact, if I do so, I run the risk of being disciplined or terminated. If you share the interview questions that are asked, then those questions effectively become useless to the company, as part of the purpose of a technical interview is to see how well you can think on your feet. It would certainly be unethical, and there's a good chance that it will violate your terms of employment.

I suspect that you would be better off telling him about broad concepts that he might be asked about, and telling him to study them. Employers often give you this sort of information before the interview anyway, at least in my experience.

As for whether or not you did right: I don't think lying about this particular situation is going to be a problem. Simply saying "I can't tell you what the questions were" might have been the better option, and maybe stress that there would be repercussions for you if you did so. But I wouldn't worry too much about your actions here, as they were more ethical than telling him the questions you were asked.

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Interfering in any way positively or negatively with another persons interviewing is not ethical unless it's part of your role.

But this is a personal ethics issue, it does actually happen a lot.

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It's probably not legal to share technical questions, since you likely signed a non-disclosure agreement saying you would not do that. (Intra-team could be a little murkier but this is very likely the case for external applicants). It is probably not ethical for that reason.

The most ethical option would be to consult the manager or company. However, if you already have good reason to believe sharing questions is not okay, it would definitely not be okay to share them. It would be an unethical decision making process for you to "be sneaky" when you're not sure and hope it works out.

In retrospect, I think I should have just told him I didn't feel comfortable giving him specific information

I agree. Being straightforward was a good option here. It does not sound like he unduly pressured you or was threatening to act out if you told the truth he did not want to hear.

I lied and told him I couldn't remember when, in fact, I remember exactly all of the technical questions they asked.

Perhaps he was unethical by acting sneaky and malevolent and you lied to protect yourself. Lying is a useful thing to do a lot of the time. Lying in a situation like this is certainly preferable to violating the integrity of your interview. Best would be to both do the right thing and tell the truth, if he seems to be able to handle the truth.

  • Note that asking your manager might not be fair towards the candidate, as your question can raise a red flag against the candidate. – yo' Apr 7 '17 at 8:04
  • @yo' then it's definitely unethical and don't do it. – user42272 Apr 7 '17 at 8:50

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