Right Attitudes

Job Interviewing #2: Interviewing with a Competitor of your Current Employer

Blog reader Ranganathan from Toronto, Canada asks, “I am interviewing with a competitor of my current employer. Most of my work at my current employer is confidential. How do I describe these projects in the upcoming interview?”

Ethics and Responsibilities

Your employers, both current and former, expect you to treat sensitive and confidential information ethically. Accordingly, you must not disclose such information outside the company—in an interview, trade show or party at home.

During an interview with a competitor of your current or former employer, describe your past projects and accomplishments in terms of concepts and particulars that are public knowledge. If the interviewer presses for additional information, be diplomatic and decline to present confidential information. Interviewers will appreciate your reluctance.

Beware of a Trap: Test for Integrity

Public trust and ethical behavior are vital to organizational and individual success. Recent corporate scandals have underscored the need for organizations to build and foster ethical business environments. Organizations are therefore inclined to select employees who share such moral values.

Good corporate ethics policies prohibit current employees from disclosing proprietary information from/about their former employers. In asking you for sensitive information, the interviewer is probably setting up a trap for you—the interviewer may be checking if you demonstrate a high degree of integrity and professional conduct.

Declining to provide proprietary information will demonstrate your consideration of the ethical consequences of your actions. Consequently, you will earn the respect of the interviewer.