Should I tell my coworker/friend about my upcoming job interview?
January 18, 2013 3:55 PM   Subscribe

I just landed an interview for a job I really want, and I'm very excited about it. I'm seeing a coworker, also a very good friend, for dinner tonight. Should I tell her about it?

We became good friends a few years ago and have lunch/dinner or do other fun things together about once or twice a month. We've shared quite a lot with each other, and in the past she has mentioned looking for other jobs. I generally don't share this information with anyone except close friends and family. But she is a close friend at this point, and I worry that if I don't tell her and she finds out, she'll wonder why I kept it from her. She's pretty understanding, but I don't want her to feel betrayed or anything. Plus, I want to talk about it and hear her thoughts and advice.

I should mention the whole "coworker" thing is a bit fuzzy. We used to work together in the same office, but she was moved to a different unit within our company. Now, she works in a different location with different people entirely. But we know a lot of the same people--people I do still work with and wouldn't want to know--and though I trust her, I worry that somehow it would get out (these things do happen, and she's in still in relatively close contact with many of these people).

Should I keep this information to myself, or do you think it's okay if I tell her, as long as I ask that she'd keep it to herself? Would I be opening up a can of worms, or is this really not a big deal? I've been in this situation before, and always kept it to myself, but this time it's a much closer friend.
posted by eleanor_of_aquitaine to Human Relations (27 answers total)
You don't owe anything to her- and the risk of this getting to one of your supervisors still does exist. It's opening a can of worms that you can't close up. Wait til you have the job offer, then share the exciting news with her.
posted by timpanogos at 3:58 PM on January 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

My coworker/friend and I share this type of information, and I did this with a few people at my last job when I was looking too. It can be helpful - people who are familiar with your current company and your work tend to have good advice or helpful input on new jobs or new roles. It can open a can of worms though, depending on your relationship. It sounds like the two of you are distant enough work-wise now, but I think this decision hangs on whether or not you think she'll spread the news, even accidentally, to someone that shouldn't know.
posted by JannaK at 4:04 PM on January 18, 2013

Keep it to yourself - there's no crazy 'sacrifice all of your secrets to me' rule of friendship, and the risks outweigh any obligation you might feel.
posted by destructive cactus at 4:04 PM on January 18, 2013 [10 favorites]

If you don't want people to know something, don't share it with those who might tell them.
posted by SMPA at 4:08 PM on January 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

If you're not already sure that she'll keep it to herself, then there's your answer - tell her about it after you get it -
posted by facetious at 4:13 PM on January 18, 2013

No. In addition to the whole "don't trust a coworker" thing, what if you don't end up getting the job?
posted by lovelygirl at 4:14 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do not tell her. Some people are bad with secrets. For all you know she could be interviewing for the same job... just don't do it. There's nothing to gain and a lot to lose.

If you're worried she'll feel betrayed if you don't tell her, I mean, that's kind of crazy. When you do tell her (and you shouldn't until you have a start date with the new company) you can always say "it's been so hard not to be able to tell you! I've been wanting to so bad!" and that's it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:15 PM on January 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Even if she does keep the secret, it might put her in an uncomfortable position at work if anyone asks about it.
So for both your sake, keep mum.
If you have the other job on lockdown, you can tell this friend a few days before you tell your manager that you are leaving, but not too long since again you want to break the news yourself and not put her in an awkward spot.

My best friend of 10 years brought me into his company a few years ago and when I quit last year I only told him 2 days before my manager.
The friend still gets to know first, but any weirdness is avoided.
posted by rmless at 4:18 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is something that I usually keep to myself. If she has much common sense, frankly, she'll understand why you didn't tell her about landing a job interview, especially since it doesn't sound like she even knows you are looking. Most people wouldn't feel betrayed by your not mentioning this -- on the contrary, some people would be both understanding and perhaps a bit relieved that you didn't put them in an awkward position as a coworker.
posted by sm1tten at 4:18 PM on January 18, 2013

This is business, not personal, and this is literally none of her business. Anyone who doesn't get that, probably wouldn't have kept the secret.
posted by any major dude at 4:22 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is business and you have no obligation to tell anyone, especially if there's a chance it may get back to your employer. If she's rude enough to ask, just tell her you wanted to keep it under wraps as you didn't want to jinx it. There's enough people that are superstitious about this kind of thing that it's totally plausible - she requires no explanation, regardless. Best of luck with the interview.
posted by Jubey at 4:43 PM on January 18, 2013

Better to undershare than overshare.
posted by theora55 at 4:48 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Tell her after you get the job. You're friends and coworkers - you're doing her a favor by not putting her in an awkward position. She'll understand.
posted by Space Kitty at 5:05 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are three or four people I work with whom I consider friends and with whom I would share this kind of information without hesitation (though with a clear request to not let it go farther within the office). If you really don't feel like she's that kind of friend (and no judgement if you don't), then don't tell her. If you do, then do.

So that's my data point.
posted by rtha at 5:10 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would tell... not that I don't hear the logic of the other responses, but gosh. She's your friend. Do you trust her or not? If you think there's any reason not to, which would come down to the closeness of the relationship, to me, then don't. But while caution is always AN option, in reality I would and have told friends in these situations about these things.

I think the 'this is business, not personal' phrase is catchy, but not really true. She is your friend and you are making a decision that has both business and personal ramifications.
posted by jojobobo at 5:10 PM on January 18, 2013

I had a really good friend (like "she threw my bachelorette party and was the only one at the office who was invited to my wedding" type of really good friend) at work once, and she never spoke to or emailed me again after I got laid off. It's made me wary of being really close with coworkers ever since.

Your situation isn't exactly the same, but you never know about people. Also, there's no chance of it accidentally getting out, if she doesn't know. Tell her after you get the new job, timpanogos has it.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 5:29 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Absolutely do not tell her. If you get the job, you can tell her before anyone else, and that's enough to honour the friendship. If she's mad afterwards then 1) she's being unfair and weird, and 2) you can tell her what Space Kitty said: you didn't want to put her in an awkward position.

I can't wrap my head around why you're even considering telling her. It's your business, and you don't want people to know. Don't risk that by telling people, especially when you're not completely sure she wouldn't let it slip.
posted by Susan PG at 5:53 PM on January 18, 2013

Perhaps this short exchange may help to inform your decision of whether to share:

A: Can you keep a secret?
B: Can *you*?
posted by Tanizaki at 6:11 PM on January 18, 2013

Single point of data: I had a friend & co-worker who did roughly the same thing. Actually, she came up with a false story about why she had to leave the office early one day, when in fact she was going for an interview. When she told us about it afterwards, she felt awful, and I wasn't the least bit offended or bothered.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:53 PM on January 18, 2013

If I was your friend, I would NOT want to know, because if I know, then I run the risk of letting it slip by accident, or I may have to lie if asked about it directly. Don't burden your friend with this.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:29 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Didn't read any of the detail at all, but it doesn't matter. Don't need to. Answer is no. Until you have accepted a job offer and given notice to your boss, the answer is always no.
posted by Miko at 9:41 PM on January 18, 2013

Two can keep a secret, if one of them is dead.

Also, for what it's worth, I wouldn't be offended if I was your friend and you didn't tell me. I would be kind of glad that I didn't have a Secret that I needed to keep.
posted by anaelith at 3:17 AM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Years ago I had an interview and told a 'close' co-worker about it

I didn't get the position but found out soon after that this co-worker had told someone that she was really close to. I have to admit I'd never tell a co-worker again.
posted by Flowerpower at 4:39 AM on January 19, 2013

There's no real benefit to telling her ahead of time, and the potential for it to blow up in your face. My vote is for "don't say anything". When you have the new job, then you can gush about how exciting it is.
posted by Solomon at 4:42 AM on January 19, 2013

So I'm the kind of person that doesn't keep (many) secrets, and interviewing for jobs, etc. is not anywhere NEAR something that I'd be asking this question about. For the last promotion I got, I had mentioned whenever the subject came up that I'd be interested if I ever got the chance. The job opened up. I made no secret that I applied. Others in my office applied for the same thing, and it wasn't awkward at all. Obviously, we didn't share interview questions or anything like that, but it wasn't like it was a secret that we were friendly competitors. If I hadn't gotten the job, I wouldn't have been embarassed, since I wasn't a jerk about assuming I'd get it or acting like my current job was beneath me.

I made sure MY boss knew that it wasn't a reflection on HIM or the work place, I just wanted to do as well for myself as I could. And that if I turned out not to get the job, I'd still be just as happy in my current one. I think he went and put in a good word for me, in no small way helping me actually be the one to get the new job. I'm still friends with the people who didn't get chosen. It's just not a thing.

Everyone's different, and I'm not telling this story to say that you should be like me. What I'm saying is, if your friend is like me, and it sounds like she is, she actually might be offended that you played "I've got a secret" about this. I mean, I'd be thinking to myself, what, did you think I was going to sabotage you or something?

So, if you don't want anyone to know, then I have to nth the advice above: keep it to yourself. Think about why it has to be a secret, though. Does it really?
posted by ctmf at 10:51 AM on January 19, 2013

do you think it's okay if I tell her, as long as I ask that she'd keep it to herself

Depends on what's more important to you, your career, or the friendship of someone you'll have to worry would be upset if you don't tell her absolutely everything about your life.
posted by yohko at 11:54 AM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

As an aside, it was a great discovery for me when I realised I didn't have to tell *anybody* when I had a job interview (well, maybe a partner should know, but I don't have one).

The whole thing is SO much less stressful without people texting you on the morning of the interview to wish you luck, calling afterwards to find out how it went etc. Much less pressure.
posted by penguin pie at 4:07 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

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