How to handle a work situation after declining an interview with a rival
May 25, 2015 12:31 PM   Subscribe

I'm the Deputy Head at an international school. I was shortlisted for a Head Teacher job with a rival school in the same small town. I declined the interview but now I am apprehensive about my boss finding out. Snowflakes inside!

I declined the interview and gave the reason that now is not the right time for me to leave my current job. In fact there were lots of factors that influenced my decision: the new school would not commit to their package in writing (I did not reveal my package either) and my assessment that this change in position may not actually be or perceived to be a promotion by potential future employers to name just two. A few days later, their HR people called me, told me I was the front runner, and asked me to reconsider. I told them how tough the decision was for me to make, but still no. They said I should email if I changed my mind. I did my best to ensure all communications I had with them was outside of my working hours, kept things as professional as I could, but my current boss is very likely to take this personally if she finds out about this. Today my boss told me that she has been asked to sit on the interviewers' panel for the rival school to help them assess their candidates. She is so intrigued by this surprising request that she is planning on missing a big school event to do this. My question, therefore, is whether I should let her know I was shortlisted or not? I realize the other company owes me nothing and may feel they have nothing to lose/think nothing of revealing information about my candidacy to my boss. Would it be best for her to hear it from me? Should I take my chances and be willing for it to be the elephant in the room, or for her to call me on it and possibly feel betrayed? (She might feel betrayed either way, this job has come up in conversation many times tween us over the past few weeks). Looking for any perspectives/advice on this.
posted by pick_the_flowers to Work & Money (8 answers total)
but my current boss is very likely to take this personally if she finds out about this.

Unless I'm missing something, I would think that if your current boss found out that you were aggressively pursued by a rival school and you declined due, in part, to your commitments to your current job, this can be nothing but favorable for you. Some people would use this as a negotiation point to stay in their current position, but it sounds like you are not doing that. What it might do, though, is make your current boss realized that you are an asset whom others are interested in as well. If she is interested in retaining you in a competitive environment, it's possible that this is a net positive for you. If you think it might come up and your boss might find out and you feel a bit weird about that, I don't think there's anything wrong with letting your boss know that you were pursued for a job offer and you turned it down, and you simply wanted to let her know in case it comes up. Then, don't worry about it for the reasons mentioned above.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:39 PM on May 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

Ask the people you interviewed with to keep it quiet and not mention it to your boss.
posted by J. Wilson at 1:17 PM on May 25, 2015

I'll recap.

In some strange bid to out you to your current boss (and maybe burn you for spurning their advances) a rival institution has asked the head of another rival institution (your boss) to help them interview candidates.

Are these two rival institutions somehow under a single umbrella organization? Doesn't this invitation seem odd or suspect to your boss??

This sounds gross, underhanded, incestous, and highly unpleasant. I'm sad your boss is feeling flattered or intrigued enough to consider ditching their own responsibilities and commitments to show up for the farce proposed by rival institution.

The rival organization has found an awesome way to burn you for refusing their offer.

I don't know what to do besides look for employment outside of this toxic circle when feasible.

In the short term, I hope someone comes up with a great script for honesty with your boss. I hope you can rally together.

That's some Machiavellian bullshit right there. Yep.
posted by jbenben at 1:18 PM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Preempt the surprise. Just mention to your boss, "That's quite a coincidence. They've been trying pretty persistently to get me to apply for the spot. Of course, I'm quite happy here and turned them down." I don't see how that's anything other than complimentary to you and your boss/school.

Plus, if she takes it badly, well at least you have another job offer. (joking! It'll be fine.)
posted by ctmf at 1:27 PM on May 25, 2015 [14 favorites]

Tell your boss! Definitely tell your boss! It's your chance to get ahead of this strange situation and help you and your boss make sense of the whole thing. You and boss are now on the same team: what's going on with this rival institution? Maybe it's nothing; maybe they're just hunting top talent and want the best (you) or people who know the best (your boss); maybe something weird!

And by hiding it you end up making yourself look bad. Why did s/he hide it from me (boss)? What is going on?

Tell your boss! You did nothing wrong.
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:42 PM on May 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

If your boss does plan to go to that, she should at least know they've been trying to poach her people from her. Maybe there are others?

I'm also with jbenben that this is kind of weird for a 'rival' to invite her to candidate selection. I mean, we do that where I work but it's a very friendly cooperative mutual respect thing and we're all on the same team as a larger organization. Are they trying to set up some kind of collusion/non-compete situation where they poach your people but compensate you somehow to not damage the relationship? Show that the market rate is lower than you're paying in hopes you lower yours and let them be more competitive? Start floating a merger idea? Maybe your boss knows what the score is, but maybe she needs to dig a bit deeper so she doesn't get surprised. Or in trouble for the appearance of impropriety - is legal department aware of this?
posted by ctmf at 3:04 PM on May 25, 2015

If you tell your boss, I would frame it as, these guys have been trying hard to recruit you, and you turned them down because you don't want to leave your current position.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:06 PM on May 25, 2015

kind of weird for a 'rival' to invite her to candidate selection.

Just a data point. I have been on a selection committee that also include the head of a 'rival' organisation. I don't think it is weird, especially when the organisations' goals included a common activity that goes beyond making a profit, such as education or environmental protection.

And I would tell your boss before the interview. It just seems confident and honest to give her the heads up.
posted by Thella at 4:38 PM on May 25, 2015

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