“And are you still with company x?” – advice for interview tomorrow
September 25, 2013 7:13 AM   Subscribe

Shortly after telling my boss I wanted to move to another department, I was given 4 weeks notice and my position filled. I’m coming to the end of that 4 weeks. There is another person doing what was my role, though I’m still technically employed with the company.

I have a phone interview tomorrow (driven from a resume I submitted a couple weeks back). I anticipate being asked “are you still working as xxxx for xxxx”. How on earth do I answer that? My main concern is to avoid the impression that I was fired ( to be clear, I was not, my performance has never been an issue).

Options I’ve considered: “Actually no. My area was recently and I am no longer with the organization” or “ My area was recently restructured, I accepted a package”

Would these work? Other suggestions?
posted by walkinginsunshine to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you say that your end date with that company is _______ and that you'd be available to start work after that date?
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:17 AM on September 25, 2013

Yes either of those works, as does a simple "Yes I am still employed there" which is factually correct and, in my opinion not misleading for a first conversation. For a phone interview I actually doubt you will be asked if you are currently employed or not--more likely they will talk about your position as if it is still current, which for the next little while it is. Don't lie, but don't bring this up out of the blue. Once you have a face to face interview you should bring it up though, especially since you will probably be asked why you are interested in changing companies.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:19 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I anticipate being asked “are you still working as xxxx for xxxx”. How on earth do I answer that?

"Yes, I am" would probably be a good place to start.

Then, wait for the next question.

It is only when you're not still working as xxxx for xxxx that your answer will need to change.
posted by John Borrowman at 7:49 AM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

Resist the temptation to offer more information than the question asks for, especially when it's potentially negative information.
"Are you still working as xxxx for xxxx?"
"When will you be available to work for our company?"
"I would be available with two weeks' notice. Possibly sooner."

No one's going to ask why "possibly sooner," because everyone's heard a story about someone who gave two weeks' notice and was immediately escorted out by security. So when they send you the offer a month from now starting two weeks later, you can call them back and say, "Hey, great news -- I can start Monday," and they'll never bother questioning it (of course, if they do, you tell them the truth -- you were no longer employed by xxxx, but make them ask why not).
posted by Etrigan at 8:01 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm a hiring manager, and I'm going to disagree with the above. Yes, it's factually accurate, but when you answer "Yes" to this question today, and "No" to this question when asked again in a couple weeks, my radar is going to go off.

What happened between then and now that led to her getting fired? Oh, she left on her own; why did she do that if she was interviewing elsewhere? Did she know she was leaving when we talked the first time, and if so, why didn't she say that? Etc.

Go with some variation of the "being restructured" answer, and say when your last day is. No one will bat an eye - today, or in two weeks.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:30 AM on September 25, 2013 [5 favorites]

I've done a lot of interviews on both sides of the desk, and a simple "Yes, I am still employed with them" is factually correct. If they delve further, offer your explanation that the role you were in evolved, and given the choices presented to you, you opted to take the package and move on to something better fitting what you were looking to be doing now.

None of which are lies, and none of which need to be elaborated on. If it comes up, just say, "I really enjoyed working with my last company, so you won't get any negative comments from me. They have a great [product] and the staff was fantastic. I just saw that we were moving in different directions and am looking for a change."

Interviewers love to hear that sort of thing.
posted by quin at 8:49 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're still getting a paycheck, right? Then you're still employed as xxxx. Say nothing else. Anything else will sound like you took separation-in-lieu-of-firing.

When they ask you if you're currently still with Company Foo, I'd just say "yes I am, but if hired I could begin as soon as [date]".

Don't overshare.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:16 AM on September 25, 2013

Although if they press you on it, quin's approach is good. You dumped them, never the other way around.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:18 AM on September 25, 2013

I literally just got a job, after about 6 weeks of being unemployed and looking for work for more than that. So I did quite a few interviews. (I'm in a larger market right on the cusp of entry level -over two year experience - so there's quite a bit of competition and some jobs weren't a fit for me.)

Really the "Do you still work there." is so that if they can know when you are available, and the "Why did you leave/why are you leaving?" is to get a feel for you and make sure there aren't any red flags. Honestly it was such a normal part of the interview that most of the people I interviewed with barely focused on it.

So for me, I said, "I just left in early August. It's easiest to do training near the end and start of the month for our client plans."
"I left because it was not a full time position, and was telecommuting." sometimes adding this or instead saying, "It was a small startup and I am looking for local work that is more stable."

For you, "Yes, I am still employed." or "I am employed through X date."
Then, "I am leaving because of reorganization in the company." or something. You don't need to tell them you accepted a package or go into detail. I know it kind of feels like you have to say the exact right thing, but really you can be kind of vague. They assume you are leaving your job for some reason, since you know, you're interviewing with them.

The only other thing to think about in this situation is if they can contact your current employer as a reference. I can't answer this for you since I don't know your work structure or your relationship with your boss. Though I would assume that he knows you are looking for work, and if you had good performance he would give you a good review.

I am guessing you haven't had a gap on your resume and that's why you're worried?

I was freaking out about having a gap on my resume and having quit a job. I didn't want to look like I would just leave a company to future employers, even though I stayed with my last job for nearly 2 years, nearly a year of that fully telecommuting after I moved across two states. Then when things got bad enough at my last job I just really had to leave. Then when I interviewed I realized that many people nodded along showing that they understood why I left or even said "Oh, that makes sense" or something. I think it would be similar with a company re-structuring in your case.

Don't worry though, most of the interview will be about you and what you contributed to the company, more than why you left. Good luck!
posted by Crystalinne at 10:40 AM on September 25, 2013

Answer: "Yes I am."
posted by zippy at 11:57 AM on September 25, 2013

I would respond to the short question with "Yes, I am; we're in the process of restructuring, however, which is part of the reason I'm job-hunting."
They will then follow up with a question about what you meant by that, and you will explain that you already know your last day is coming up.

It's perfectly fine to say that you're still employed, but if you strongly imply that you will continue to be employed indefinitely and then in another interview next week you talk about not being with the company any more and list reasons why it was a perfectly normal business reorg and nothing urgent or unexpected like getting fired, that will look weird. So go ahead and imply now that things are changing and you're staying alert and head of the game by moving ahead with your job search.
posted by aimedwander at 2:54 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

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