So one of colleagues who I am currently working with to develop a mobile application had an interview with a company last week.

He was asked:

"What do you do in your spare time?"

He told them true and replied:

"Me and a coworker are planning on making a mobile application that we hope to launch within a couple of months"

He told me the manager was very impressed but didn't show an sign of hesitancy.

Should you be truthful in these types of questions or just say some generic answer?

  • 1
    Well, that is really up to you and everyone has a different opinion of if you should do that or not. However, one should try to stick to the truth, but without phrasing it in a compromising way.
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 19, 2017 at 17:11
  • It depends on the personality of the hiring manager. If you were hiring would you be interested in someone who basically tells them they are a stop gap employer until they launch their own business. Most employers would not see this as plus. If you say you work on personal applications as a hobby, that is impressive so you don't need to mention that you intend to monetize them. Be prepared to show code and explain what you are doing in your hobby coding though if you mention it.
    – HLGEM
    Sep 19, 2017 at 17:42
  • Maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't have understood "launching a mobile application" to mean "starting a business", it just sounds like you like to write apps in your spare time. Is it possible the hiring manager didn't realize the app would be used to launch a business?
    – user812786
    Sep 19, 2017 at 19:02

3 Answers 3


There should be no issue with telling the hiring manager about your personal business ventures, in fact you should probably be open about that in the beginning to prevent any issues.

Usually when you work in IT, companies often have you sign an Intellectual Property Agreement which outlines what work you do is owned by your employer etc. You will want to read that very carefully and potentially seek legal counsel just to be on the safe side.

As long as the work you're doing on the side does not interfere with or directly relate to the work you are getting paid to do, there shouldn't be any issues.


The problems with developing widgets on one's own time are intellectual property (IP) conflicts. The Company can claim that the widget you developed belongs to the the Company. If you've signed an IP agreement, then it would be clear as to whom the widget belongs to.

Given that your coworker is interviewing for a position, it would indicate that performance may be affected by the mobile application on their personal time, in addition to the unauthorized usage of company assets (in terms of knowledge, equipment, time) to develop the personal widget.

This would be a conflict of interest.

  • 1
    I'm confused. If someone already has the means to work on developing the widget on their own, before ever working for the company, how could working on the widget, on their own, either affect their work performance, or use company resources? I can understand if someone does that on the side and uses it as a secondary income stream that they might have to disclose it to the company, but I'm not seeing anything that would indicate anything in the second paragraph. Instead of assuming you must be mistaken, I'm going to assume that I'm missing what you're actually saying. Can you fill me in? Sep 19, 2017 at 20:42
  • In a company whose employee is working on a personal project: there can be IP issues regarding the development of the project. As a company who is hiring someone working on a personal project, how can the company ensure that the employee is 100% on task during working hours? If the project takes off and the employee leaves, the company would've lost money on training and on-boarding.
    – Bluebird
    Sep 19, 2017 at 20:47
  • 1
    Those concerns don't apply to an employee with a kid on a sports team (100% on task?), or if an employee leaves for any reason (lost training and on-boarding)? Unless they can show in a direct way that company resources/equipment were used, there's no reason to think that it was. It's been shown that the concept and ability to develop this existed independent of the company hiring. I can understand questioning the long-term outlook of hiring someone, but I'm not seeing the IP or company resource angles. What I do on my own time is not a conflict of interest, unless I compete with my employer. Sep 19, 2017 at 20:54
  • Without more details from OP, one can only speculate.
    – Bluebird
    Sep 19, 2017 at 20:55
  • True. Don't take me wrong, I especially don't see an upside to mentioning that at all, or vs. "I also enjoy it so much I make widgets in my free time" without mentioning a business angle. Sep 19, 2017 at 20:58

Best not to mention any personal business projects or plans you have. Companies think twice about investing in employing people who might be leaving in the near future.

This is in addition to potential issues with IP conflicts and use of company resources.

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