should I tell my manager I have an interview?

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A reader writes:

I’ve been with my current employer for just over 5 years and have a really great relationship with my boss. While I used to love my job, over the past year or so, I’ve started to lose interest and have started looking for another job. An opportunity presented itself in another city which I’m currently interviewing for. They head-hunted me and so far the job is looking promising – after a phone interview with HR and an interview with my potential boss, they’re flying me out to meet the team (paying for my hotel, car and flights).

My problem is I have a performance review with my current employer a few days before I fly out for my interview. My boss has hinted at the fact that she knows I’m unhappy at the moment and has asked where I see myself going in the company, which she said we could discuss in my review.

My question is – what do I say in my review? Should I be honest and say I’m interviewing for another job? I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot and give her a reason to fire me off or treat me unfairly if I don’t get the job (though I do expect she would reply reasonably). I would feel bad about misleading her in any way (and am a horrible liar), so if she asks me straight up where I see myself going with the company, I’m not sure how I should respond, especially given that I don’t see myself staying there too far in the future.

Don’t say that you’re interviewing for another job. You may not get it or you may decide it’s not for you. There’s no reason to be that specific, until you get an offer that you’re going to accept.

However, you should talk to her honestly about why you’re not as content as you used to be. Think about the factors that pushed you to start looking, and talk to her about those (without mentioning that you have a job search in progress). You never know — if you talk to her honestly about that, she might be able to address those things. You might get offered a different job with your current company that would make you happier. Or you might not — but you’ll have been honest with her about your thinking, and if you do end up leaving sometime soon, she’ll appreciate that you didn’t let her think that everything was fine. Good luck!

{ 15 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous

    NOOO Do not tell her you're interviewing! Even if you like her, don't tell her. I made that mistake and March 18th I'll be unemployed a year.

  2. Meg

    I had a new job description lined up with my former employer…economy tanked, job fell through…told them I felt I was at a place where I had reached the top of what I could do there. It was assumed I was looking for other work.

    I'm pretty sure that's the reason I was one of the people they picked to lay off. I was unemployed over 14 months and am now back working with them part time (never burn a bridge).

    They don't owe you anything, you don't owe them anything. Business is business. Go on the interview…I've been on plenty of interviews, it may mean nothing. Hopefully it will mean something.

    Any good manager who cares about you will want to see you succeed. If they don't, then you shouldn't worry about them. Trust me, when you leave they will quickly replace you and move on.

  3. BossLady

    I think this post illustrates something I feel like I see often both in my daily reading of AAM (which I love) and in work.

    Being honest with your employer is not the same as telling them EVERYTHING. Being honest is doing as AAM suggests and telling them specifics about your life/needs within the workplace. Including here, that you are dissatisfied and frustrated and what about the job makes that so.

    A smaller example: I have employees who call in sick and feel the need to describe the specific sickness they have, I don't really mind knowing, but I try to explain to them that they are allowed to take sick days and I don't have to know their illness to accept the fact. You are sick and staying home. Done.

    I also get really frustrated by employers who insist on knowing things about me outside of work. None of their business. If we have a good relationship I might offer it up, but don't be pushy about it.

    Anyway, off my (snowy) soapbox now. Thanks AAM!

  4. Anonymous

    I agree that you should never ever tell your employer that you're looking or interviewing. I am another person who has suffered from furious employers who took a "how dare you" attitude. My prospective employer rescinded their offer, and I'm now being fired.

  5. Anonymous

    Thanks everyone for the responses. I was most worried about how to respond if she were to straight out ask me if I was interviewing for other jobs, otherwise of course I agree I wouldn't volunteer that information. I had the review today today, and it went well – she did probe as to what I wanted to do with my life and where I see myself, but mentioned that they were behind me in helping me make sure I was happy in my career choice – whether it be here at the company or elsewhere in another career.

  6. Nas

    When I hand in my resignation letter to my current employer, and if they ask me where am I going, should I tell them that? I personally dont want to! Help :)

  7. Mike

    I am in a similar situation. I am flying out to see a plant in two weeks and I haven’t told any of my coworkers yet. I guess I won’t either but I wanted to give my boss a chance to match the offer before I said yes. I’m worried about leaving and I’m worried about staying.

  8. Traci

    I too am going threw the same thing, I had a interview today & I have a great relationship with my supervisor, I want to be 100% honest with her & give her a heads up but then agian I dont want to be treated differently if I dont get the job, the last thing I need is for the job I interviewed for is to call her for a reference, Im being pushed to let her know but I really dont know how to tell her…….

  9. Becki

    I have just been asked to interview for another job today and I keep wondering if I should just tell my boss. I’m on a fixed-term contract (due to end in Nov) and I’m not continuing in my line of work (long story, developed occupational asthma). The job I’m interviewing for I have experience in and is not working with the causes of the occupational asthma (i.e. not working in a lab). I keep thinking that she’d understand cos I can’t continue my current job beyond Nov due to funding and now occupational asthma. But I’m not sure. She denied me one day off the other week cos a piece of work needed to be completed for a particular deadline (of which I was ahead of the deadline) – I didn’t contest this as she’d still have said no.

    I now need to ask her for a day off (from my annual leave) to attend interview and I’m worried about having to tell her why if necessary! I suppose ‘the end [of my job] is in sight’ regardless of her reaction.

  10. GCCK

    Hi, I have been taking so many leaves recently to attend interviews. All along I’ve been telling him it’s personal but on the final leave that I took he asked (again) what is happening and wasn’t convinced with just “personal”. So I had to make a white lie and said I have a bank appointment and reiterate that it’s personal again and then so that he could stopped asking. Which he did. I am very near to getting a new job. I am not sure what his reaction will be on the day I hand in my resignation letter and tell him I have a new job. I’m pretty sure he will be able to tell that the leaves that I have been taking are for interviews. I really hope that he could be my referee for my future job and that I want to leave on a good note but what is the best way to do it? Should I not tell him I’ve got a job? (Just so he won’t get the idea that I have been lying about my leave) Or should I be upfront?

  11. Chris

    Im 23 and just started a job at a company I held a 3 month internship at this summer. I’m on very good terms with my boss and things are going great but I feel like I’m not being challenged enough at my job and could be at a stand still in my career for a few years seeming as the job I want (in sales) is being filled by a new business development director because our old director just retired. (My thought was that he’d retire a few years from now putting myself in contention for the job)

    Last week I got a call from a sales and marketing firm in town looking to hire an account manager and wanted me to interview so I don’t say anything and went to the interview and got called back for an in depth 3 hr interview and walk through this week. My concern is that since I just took this job I might want to not say anything at all about leaving work for an interview but at the same time he seems like the type of guy who would understand my situation. Any advice?

  12. From UAE

    It’s better to tell your boss just between you and her that you got an other offer. By doing this you’ll never have to turn ur back on them. Just go to her office, close the door and tell her that you need her advice. I think she’ll be glad that you went to her first. Trust is the key here.

  13. Mrs.B

    If your manager hears that you went to a job interview and request a half day and assume it was a day you request that half day can you be fired for this??

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