Well, this is awkward...
July 20, 2015 3:04 AM   Subscribe

A week after interviewing with a company - a vendor in my industry - they are now partnering with my company as we will be using their product. The man I interviewed with is even on email threads and possible phone meetings with me. What's the most professional way to handle?

So while waiting to hear back from a particular company on the vendor side, I've received a surprise email "looping me in" - our company is going to be using this exact vendor after a series of conversations, and I am tasked with implementing it. Awkward - some of the people from my interview are even directly on my email threads.

I'm really worried because one of the reasons I am trying to leave my company is, we are sloppy. We do not have consistent processes or good training. So I'm really worried that how I conduct myself with their product and the implementation of it is going to directly reflect on my viability as a candidate, seeing that I'll be working directly with the account team for this vendor (all of whom I've met - in an interview setting). So now I have to pretend not to know them on emails and phone calls and make sure everything is implemented perfectly, which rarely happens at my current company.

How best to handle? Should I one-off them from my personal email, "hey all, really funny to see your names popping up in my work inbox - looking forward to working with you" Should I use the opportunity to check in on the status of the hiring process?

How best to conduct myself when inevitable issues/troubleshooting comes up? When I have questions that might sound dumb (really worried they'll go, "oh wow, we thought this candidate knew this stuff already") or ask for documents/materials that might annoy them but pertain to our processes, which are frankly sort of strange and annoying to many of the vendors we work with. I want to make sure everything goes smoothly and they go "wow, we love how he handled everything" but I really feel like this organization I interviewed at now gets to shadow me on the job so I'm feeling a ton of pressure. I can't be taken off the project as I'm the only one who can work with them.

What would you do?
posted by windbox to Work & Money (9 answers total)
I would do my best to do my job. I wouldn't acknowledge the interview unless they do. It's normal and probably expected for you to have questions. Do not put your current company down for being sloppy. I've seen lots of folks hop to working to their vendors. It may take many weeks to build a positive relationship with these guys through work. By then the current position may be filled. Even if it's not with you, this new interaction may help it be you next time.
posted by Kalmya at 3:41 AM on July 20, 2015 [7 favorites]

Good advice by Kalmya, especially about not acknowledging that there is something beyond this professional relationship. Keep the two separate and treat them as you would any other supplier.

Couple of other points - not sure how it is in your industry and your company, but there are no-hire clauses between the vendors and their customers. Also, some companies don't want to rock the boat by poaching a key customer employee. In either case, you may have to drop your candidature for the vendor.

Also, please keep in mind that implementing their product according to their customer's needs, processes and cultural baggage is something every product vendor needs to deal with, so don't give them ammunition about your company nor go to the other extreme of crucifying them for every mistake.

I short, mentally give up on the job and deal with them very professionally. If the job offer still materializes, great!
posted by theobserver at 4:06 AM on July 20, 2015

Ageeed a non compete clause could be an issue. I've seen lots of them ignored. I've never seen one enforced. Maybe industry and area specific and a big YMMV.
posted by Kalmya at 4:31 AM on July 20, 2015

Your internal conflicts rules may also treat this as an issue.
posted by slateyness at 4:50 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Presumably you would be trying to do a good job regardless of whether you had interviewed with this vendor so keep doing that.

As far as the interview and this new vendor/employer relationship. If they have any sort of professionalism they would know not to mention it during the course of your project or in the near to mid future as they would be aware that it may jeopardize your current job. So you should be expected to do the same as it may jeopardize their contract with your employer and could also be seen as a conflict of interest.

I have interviewed for a different position within the same company I worked for in the past and the hiring manager knew to keep it under wraps even though his department worked with my department on some projects.
posted by eatcake at 6:03 AM on July 20, 2015

Most vendors know how sloppy companies work...there are a myriad of processes that seem random or ridiculous and there are sloppy procedures that go on all the time. The only thing you can control is your own professionalism with these folks, and you should be fine. They're not going to jeopardize their relationship with this company over a single applicant by tipping off that you've interviewed with them.
posted by xingcat at 7:02 AM on July 20, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks all, have been moving forward this morning business as usual and asking normal questions. I am assuming that my candidacy has been pulled as not many companies will go "thanks for your business! Also, mind if we take one of your employees real quick?" - will just move on with the job search. Disappointed though because I had invested a lot of time in a few rounds of interviews and things were looking up. Such is life.
posted by windbox at 7:57 AM on July 20, 2015

I would use this as an opportunity to ask about the status of your candidacy, assuming it hasn't been languishing for months, and it's been at least a week or so since you spoke with them. But otherwise, just try to do a good job. And when you ask dumb questions, just try to do some research or ask around within your team before you ask, to make sure it's not actually a dumb question. Being competent, but also being a friendly, easy person to work with will have the most impact.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:34 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Your engagement with them provably started before they started working with your company, so I think you are probably fine to go work there (I mean, IANAL so this might be terrible advice but employment law being what it is, proving the interaction started earlier than any contract is always good). That being said, they may not want to spoil the relationship with your current employer. I think it is fair to ping them and ask about your status, emphasizing that you are still interested in the position.
posted by ch1x0r at 6:00 PM on July 20, 2015

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