Interviewer Contacted Someone from My Company

So I applied for a job recently, had a couple of interviews which seemed to go well in my head. Fast forward a few weeks and I still hadn't heard back from them and thought it was a little inconsiderate to not even call me about me not getting the job. But thought, hey that's life I guess.

Then one of my colleagues basically tells me the person X (who interviewed me) says hi with a smirk. And I was like what - and then joined the dots that X knows my colleague and would have told them about me coming for that interview.

I felt pretty disgusted.

a) The company didn't have the decency to let me know that I was unsuccessful.

b) I'm pretty sure it was unethical to contact someone from my organisation (who I haven't specified as a referee) and let them know about my application as I feel it easily could hurt my chances in my current company as this news can easily travel fast that I'm looking for jobs.

What is everyone's take on this scenario? What should i do?

Poll Options

  • 48
    Forget about it
  • 10
    Confront HR about it
  • 386
    Directly confront the interviewer
  • 120
    Investigate why soap smells good but tastes horrible


  • +75

    That's definitely a good point, the interviewer contacting someone from your company is really bad etiquette.

    • -48

      Bad etiquette. But not unethical like OP says.

      • +59

        Not unethical? Reaching out to a candidate's current employer without permission when you don't even intend to hire them? Are you (profanity) kidding? LOL

        Out of curiosity, what do you do for work?

        • Reaching out to a candidate's current employer without permission

          He didn't reach out to his employer, he reached out to someone he knew personally. As others have said, we don't even know if they were doing a background check or it was a "I ran into a guy from your workplace the other day…"

          when you don't even intend to hire them?

          We don't know this from OPs post? He still hasn't heard back if he was unsuccessful, nor have they followed up.

          Out of curiosity, what do you do for work?

          What does that have to do with anything?

          • +9


            He didn't reach out to his employer, he reached out to someone he knew personally. As others have said, we don't even know if they were doing a background check or it was a "I ran into a guy from your workplace the other day…"

            So what you're saying is that the interviewer knew someone at another business and went, privately, telling this someone intricate personal details about his (the interviewer's) day-to-day work? With no regard to the impact it would have on OP's current employment? And that's ethical? There's a 99% chance in the interviewer's contract that there would be a clause telling him to STFU and it would be considered justifiable grounds for serious misconduct by FairWork.

            We don't know this from OPs post? He still hasn't heard back if he was unsuccessful, nor have they followed up.

            Has he been offered a job yet? No? Then it's not successful. Reference checks are conducted after the offer is made and usually after the contract has been signed.

            What does that have to do with anything?

            I'm wondering what kind of job you do where you manage to stay employed even though you have no understanding of ethics, professionalism or even care about whether or not your employer knows you want to quit.

            • +17

              @ausmechkeyboards: Reference checks are done after a contract is signed??!?!!!

              What's the point of that!!!

              All checks have to be done before an offer is made. If you find anything you don't like during the checks, you can still decide to not make an offer. Usually, we would tell a candidate that we are interested in making an offer and will do so once we have undertaken the reference checks.

              We won't do the checks if we have no intention of making an offer.

              • -7

                @MrHyde: Who's "we"? I'm willing to bet I've hired more people than you have ever interviewed. They don't have to be made before the offer, and rarely is that carried out. You just present the offer and contract and note within a clause that the checks (including criminal history checks and everything else) still have to be carried out before it takes effect.

                • +1

                  @ausmechkeyboards: A person's location of employment isn't private information. Consent isn't required for collecting non private information.

                • +1

                  @ausmechkeyboards: A background check may include a reference check, however they are two different things. A reference check done by an employer would be confirming that they are suitable for the job and that what the reference says doesn't contradict what you know about the applicant.

                  A background check sometimes include police and security checks but are more. It will often be done by someone outside the company. It's more about legality and ethics

              • +2

                @MrHyde: This is what that clause looks like FYI

                This is standard practice.

                • +11

                  @ausmechkeyboards: Thank you for sharing that clause. I work in IT and I have only seen a similar clause in one contract in the last 5 years. I am not in HR; but have conducted a few thousand interviews in the last 20 years for a number of IT firms (both large and small). I also currently review and go over 2-3 contracts every week for IT consultants our firm is placing at other companies.

                  A reference check is more than just calling a previous employer up and asking them to confirm the candidates period of employment and role. That is a background check that you can offload to a third party. A reference check is asking the referee for things like if the person is a good worker; is he/she always on time; what type of worker are they; did they ever get into trouble, etc,etc. This can also be given off to a third party to do - and I have seen especially Government offload this questioning to a third party. But without knowing this information; you are only relying on the interview for your decision making and in my view, that is not enough. These questions are critical enough that they would help us in choosing who to make the offer to. We won't make an offer to someone and then hope the reference check goes ok.

                  A background check - definitely. We only conduct those once we have a person selected and they have signed the contract. Background checks involve Police checks and possibly health checks and cost money - so, you only do those on the final selected candidate.

                  In terms of contacting people outside of the referees, we do it all the time - not with the current employer unless permission is granted as the candidate may not have told their current employer. But if I know they worked at company XYZ previously and I know someone I trust also working there; I would call them up and ask if they know the candidate and what they thought of them. A reference from a person I trust is a 100 times better than a reference from a referee I don't know.

                  • +8


                    A reference from a person I trust is a 100 times better than a reference from a referee I don't know.

                    This… Oh lordy, lord, lord, lord, so this.

                  • +1

                    @MrHyde: i wonder if a dodgy headhunter could do reference check with an employee's current employer, so disrupting the employee's relationship with their current employer. even pretending to be multiple different organisations to make it appear as if the employee is applying for multiple positions. then once the relationship is soured enough, cold approach the employee with position(s).

              • +1

                @MrHyde: Just to be sure I won't give out any reference details until I have a offer in principle.

                Also it's good etiquette to contact your reference beforehand anyway. Let them know who will be contacting them, what the role is etc

            • -2


              So what you're saying is…..

              Nope. You have made up that crazy scenario all on your own.

              Reference checks are conducted…..

              As stated previously, we don't even know if this person was doing a reference check.

              I'm wondering what kind of job you do where you manage to stay employed…..


              your employer knows you want to quit.


              • +10

                @serpserpserp: I've worked for a few large companies (500-42000) and I've had friends who have asked me casually "Do you know zzz as they had an interview with me last week." It happens 1-2 times a year. Mostly I don't know them or don't know them well.

                If I was interviewing for a new position I'd use my network to check who I can. If an applicant doesn't like it they can suck it up.

                Never in my working career (18 jobs that required an application/interview process) have they done reference checks after signing the contract. Often they have been done before the offer of employment.

                • +4

                  @brad1-8tsi: I'm still extremely interested which industries you people seem to work at. I can't imagine any serious white collar company with a competent legal or HR team allowing any of this to happen.

                  Even phrases like "if an applicant doesn't like it they can suck it up" are hilariously ridiculous when the "suck it up" is actually dealing with lawsuits for breaching employment law - this goes towards your own company and the referees.

                  But hey, it's OzBargain, so you can all continue to pretend whatever it is that helps you sleep at night.

                  • @ausmechkeyboards: Civil Engineering, reference checks are done before offer.

                    Would you buy a car without sitting in the drivers seat?

                    Maybe your confusing (character) reference check with background check? The clause you posted above reads like a background check (criminal record, attendance, qualifications) and offers an "out" for the organisation if the person they employed did not tick these fundamental boxes. You may find it in the terms of employment as a shelf packer at Coles.

                    There's no company I know of that would negotiate a salary package (which would go with the offer of employment) based off an interview alone. What would you do if the candidate blitzed the interview, you offer top dollar on the contract and then you find out through a character reference that they were a flop at their last position? You would want to have a competent legal team to back pedal out of that.

                  • @ausmechkeyboards:

                    which industries you people seem to work at.

                    That's irrelevant. It was people in other business that I knew personally asking me about people I work with. Given that I worked at large companies (Qantas Engineering & a state gov't trading corporation), I only knew 2 of the ~6 I was asked about and that was over a 30 year period.

                    You don't think a mate would ask you about a current work colleague? lol.

          • +4


            As others have said, we don't even know if they were doing a background check or it was a "I ran into a guy from your workplace the other day…"

            I thought I'll just clarify. I don't care if it's a background check or not. What I do care about is that they contacted an employee of my company and told them I've been in an interview with them. That's definitely breaking an unspoken privacy agreement and will think twice before dealing with that company.

            He still hasn't heard back if he was unsuccessful
            It's been a long time, it's very safe to say I've been unsuccessful or they have a massively shitty recruitment timelines.

            • +1


              That's definitely breaking an unspoken privacy agreement

              Unspoken rules aren't actually rules. They are just made up stuff in peoples minds

          • @serpserpserp: Also the OP thinks they have joined the dots - they can’t be sure they have.

            It’s possible there has been a breach, if so I think the bigger issue has been committed by Y on the interviewer X. by Y looking to either be a smart arse and/or establish some power..

            So more practically from here (given OP isn’t is position to complain on top of what is suspicion rather than evidence) is what is OPs relationship with Y like, is Y more senior, is Y trusted and influential, can Y be enlisted as an ally with a careful approach etc.

            Good luck OP.

      • +7

        OP didn't get the job so OP needs to keep their current job. The interviewer would have received a few hundred applications but is stirring up trouble at one applicant's current employer.

        While OP can't be 'fired' for looking to leave, they might now be harassed at their current job or 'forced to quit' for being disloyal.

        It is completely unethical to cause trouble like this for someone you are not hiring. Depending on the company, this could be nothing or this could breach their harassment or privacy policy and could lead to the interviewer being disciplined.

        Why? Because top talent won't interview with employers who screw over their coworkers. People won't award contracts to the interviewer's company as they can't trust their work. And if the industry is small, some clients will hear and stop working with them too.

        Other companies don't care, they are large or rely on a large customer base so this behavour would have limited impact on business.

        On the bright side, OP now knows two people they can't trust professionally.

      • No. It is absolutely unethical.

    • +3

      LinkedIn in provides the means for them to do that easily. All it takes is a public profile from your companies HR rep/manager, or even just friends of friends for you to make contact.

      It works both ways though as an interested applicant may be able to find the new jobs hiring manager and contact them directly.

      Even before the internet, if I knew someone's last job was McDonalds, and I knew their manager personally (or knew that my cousin knew them) I could ask what sort of worker were they? would you hire them again? etc.

      Saying that, giving that other contact information on whether I would hire the applicant may be unethical, but if they gave a bad reference they'd probably know that anyway.

      • don't some even go further and 'check' your social medias like Facebook account etc?

        • That will depend on what you leave to public access. My thoughts are that if you have a public account, that's fair game.

        • +2

          Why bother using your real name in your social media? The cancel culture is rife in the US and I can see it getting just as bad here, as evidenced by how those two black girls were treated for crossing the border into Qld.

    • +3

      Had a similar experience.
      Simply shot an email to the recruiter and a LinkedIn message to the interviewer about this nasty behaviour and filthy unprofessional etiquette.

      Received an apology from recruiter and LinkedIn message ‘read’ from interviewer.
      Its not some roadside gossip to spread the story around, job hunting is a private activity directly affecting your personal life. Therefore don’t keep silent and point it out to them.

  • +2

    I've read it so many times and still don't get it. If you don't know for sure that the 2 spoke about your interview then your statement is merely a speculation. Sounds like you're a bit paranoid.

    • +3

      exactly…they could just be mates and may have only said - hey I ran into someone from your office the other day…

      Unless you definitely know they did a ref check - even then it would only be very poor from the recruiter.

      Move on - be positive for the next opportunity

    • +2

      Yeah, of course. Person X would have just asked my colleague to say hi to me, because why not.

      • Do colleagues at your work not say hi to each other?

        • +13

          Colleagues yes, but don't say hi on behalf of interviewers. Is that what happens at your work?

          • -10

            @evolution-flip: Ok, I understand what you mean now, your original post wasn't very well explained. You mean that your colleague said hi to you on behalf of the interviewer.

            Unfortunately any job you currently hold can be used as a referee, otherwise people would just lie about job experience.

            • +4

              @crashloaded: everyone else got this, I think you and a few others didn't

              • @Jackson: Seems like it 😊 also sounds like the colleague was just taking the p!ss.

    • I person a tells person b a secret, then person see tells you back your secret, you can be sure that person b told person see. Anything else in naive

      • see=c, since when does autocorrect do that?

  • -3

    I dont see the issue if they are following up if you worked or are working at a place and for how long to confirm your resume isnt bs .

    If they asked questions they would ask a reference then you might have some ethical issues .

  • -2

    Take your anger and disappointment somewhere else.

  • +7

    Go full karen, record it and please post on youtube

  • -3

    It sounds like the interviewer did their job vetted you properly.

  • +4

    b) I'm pretty sure it was unethical to contact someone from my organisation (who I haven't specified as a referee) and let them know about my application as I feel it easily could hurt my chances in my current company as this news can easily travel fast that I'm looking for jobs.

    This happens all over the place. Personally, I wouldn't contact someone at the candidate's current place of work, but there are any number of "reference checks" done outside of official referees.

  • +5

    If you're good at your job and get on well with others then it doesnt matter how people find more about you.

    • +5

      So are you saying it's ok if your company gets to know you've been looking for jobs, because hey I'm good at my job?

      • -1

        Im saying how do you stop the word getting around?

        By going to an interview you potentially expose yourself to other people that know where you currently work and will ask their network more about you.

        How are you going to prevent that?

        • -1

          You are right. We can't prevent that, but it's just an unfortunate reality which did bother me but I guess it is what it is, to quote Trump.

        • You can turn into Chairman Kim and they would shut their mouth.

        • +2

          the only reason you haven't been negged for this comment is that everyone has run out of negs by this point :-) The lack of positives speaks volumes.

          This is extremely poor form on the part of the recruiter, and they should know better. Also it potentially jeopardises the persons job security, ability to gain training and other perks, ability to progress in their current role. If I had interviewed someone, it wouldn't matter if I knew their mum, I would not be telling that person I knew they interviewed.

      • +1

        People do interviews all the time…I think managers would know this. I mean how do know the market if you do not interviews now and then?

  • +28

    Soap is the salt from a fatty acid, which dissolves in water but also can bind fatty/greasy stuff making it useful in cleaning fat/grease etc which wouldn't wash of easily with just water. Raw soap doesn't have any smell.

    They add fragrances to soap to make it smell good.

    Soap is a basic(alkali) substance. (Fatty acid salts) These activate bitter receptors on your tongue.

    • +3

      That is too much science on a Saturday morning.

      • +1

        its almost midday…

        • +1

          There is a pandemic out there. Stay in bed and get some breakfast in bed.

      • Amen. lol

    • Don't use it as toothpaste. It makes one want to vomit.

      • +1

        Don't use toothpaste as soap either.

        • Hmmm. I've never tried that. Why not?

    • -1

      But it still tastes bad. Is the opposite true for poop?

      • once word gets around about your interview, you'll have plenty of time at home to try this and report back on your findings :)

  • -1

    Welcome to the real world of recruitment. You of course should decline any offer.

  • +2

    Contact their HR, message their CEO on linkedin. Leave Glassdoor reviews.

    This isn't normal behavior and the people above that are normalising it are either unemployed or losers who don't hold jobs of value.

    • +5

      This isn't normal behavior and the people above that are normalising it are either unemployed or losers who don't hold jobs of value.

      I think you'll find that people that do pretty well in life don't come across these issues when being interviewed. I am assuming Mr Smirker gave OP a glowing review?

      • +1

        a community service agreement, the only reason this comment isn't negged more is because people have run out by this point. In fact probably every "drink a cup of concrete" comment from here on is biased by this issue. @scotty you should try to find a solution to this.

        I get that half the world is made up of unscrupulous people, it's complete bull that people that do well in life don't come across this. Do you think Trump and ScoMo have done well? There would be miles of people who would still call them out as a-holes. While I don't agree with much of the comment from @ausmechkeyboards, he's correct in as far as the old saying "you can't make an omelette without cracking a few eggs". Everyone has pissed off someone at some point, whether unintentional, or because the pissed off person is an idiot/jealous/etc. This shouldn't affect the persons employment prospects, you shouldn't have to prove that everyone at your workplace loves you, just that your boss does.

    • +9

      Contact their HR, message their CEO on linkedin. Leave Glassdoor reviews.

      This isn't normal behavior and the people above that are normalising it are either unemployed or losers who don't hold jobs of value.

      ^this, I don't get peoples justification of this behaviour. Where I work that interviewer would be up on disciplinary action and potentially dismissed. An Interview is a confidential business matter, discussing it with unrelated outside parties is incredibly unethical, doubly so with someone from where he works without his permission. They could have hugely negatively impacted his career, limiting training, pay and/or promotion opportunities.

  • +11

    Wow, that's really unprofessional behaviour.

    I would call to confirm you didn't get the job, then put in a written complaint to their company about the interviewer.

  • -2

    Do you want to sue them? If not, move on.

  • -3

    Cry me a river

  • I'm surprise no one from Ozbargain has suggested this yet: BIKIES!

    • In this case the chances are Bikes would be mates with the recruiter 😛

  • +7

    Most like recruiter is friends with someone who works at the same organisation as you, and asks what they think of you as a worker. This isnt what I would call unethical behaviour. He's not calling your boss and asking about you.

    Welcome to recruitment 101 where a large number of jobs are filled due to referrals and personal contacts/recommendations. More than half the hires at my company are done based on personal recommendations rather than job advert responses.

    • +5

      And what if my colleague is good friends with my boss and tells him what he knows. That's not unethical as well because he's not going to my CEO?

      • +5

        Unless you work in an industry where no one knows each other, it's going to happen. People talk, and people talking about you is generally better than no one knowing who you are

        You're looking for other jobs….
        So what.

        If you were respected and we'll paid I assume you woundnt be, and assuming you're good at your job, what's the damage as you'll likely find an alternative elsewhere

        • +4

          Yeah maybe. It maybe bothering me because I'm anyway a private person and see this as a breach of an unspoken confidentiality agreement between the applicant and employer.

        • +2

          "You're looking for other jobs….
          So what."

          Well the what is that some businesses \ bosses then make it a personal mission to make you quit or ride you until they can say its performance based termination when they hear people are looking for a job elsewhere.
          Not every employer is a dream to work for (and not every employee is good to work with).

          It's often a private matter for people and if the application for another position isn't successful they don't want that broadcast by people who have no right to be involved in the first place?

          Imagine if doctors did this about problems patients come to them with?

  • +11

    I agree it's unprofessional.

    Usually you would get asked if it's okay to even contact your references- to give you time to let your references know that you've put them down if you hadn't already.

    I would think most people apply for a job assuming the application is confidential and that other people where you currently work will not find out unless you tell them.

    • +1

      Usually you would get asked if it's okay to even contact your references

      We don't even know if the interviewer was doing a reference check or just knew "Mr Smirk" and said "Hey i ran into Ken from your work the other day".

      • +1

        I mean yeah, that's my point, if you would have to ask to do a professional reference check, why would a casual insertion of name dropping someone you interviewed for a job be okay?

        • I don't ask If it's OK to contact. If they put the contacts on their resume that's a sign that the person they put has been made aware (If they aren't aware it probably counts against the applicant anyway :)).

          If they put "References on request" that's when you ask for them.

          If I knew someone in their company, I'd probably drop that in the interview "So you worked at xxxx, I know Paul that works there" You can also judge from their reaction what Pauls response would be.

      • -1

        I can imagine the conversation going like v
        "Hey I ran into Ken from your work the other day"
        "Oh yeah? Where was that?"
        "Oh that doesn't matter, just tell him I say hello"
        "You bet"

        • So unethical… ;)

        • Yeah probably something stupid like that.

  • +3

    When we do interviews at our work. If the resume doesn’t have a contact at the current or most recent job there is usually a reason for that. We will always call them regardless. We once found out the person we were considering hiring had stolen money from the previous job this way.

    Note: we do ask if there is a reason why no reference from the job (sometimes it’s cause they haven’t told that employee they are leaving and in these cases we don’t call them)

    • +2

      If the current employer sees the worker as an indispensable asset, who is earning the company many times more than their wage, then why would they tell the potential new employer nice things? Wouldn't' it make more sense to lie to the potential new employer, make something up about about the employee, so they don't get hired and then they can continue working for your company. If you owned a bakery and rented a bunch of ovens you relied on, if someone were to ask you about those ovens and if they could rent them instead if they offered more money, you'd try to shut them down pretty quick so you can keep your money making ovens. You'd lie and say the ovens are always breaking down, they are more trouble than they are worth, the ovens stole money from the till. If someone else rents those ovens then you need to go find new ovens to rent, and train your staff on how to work those new ovens, adjust your recipes to fit those ovens heating style, etc. If I were an employer I'd tell other bakeries that my ovens stink and not to go near them. I'd tell them I suspect working near the ovens has given me cancer.

  • +1

    Soap tastes horrible?

    • Yes it does. Don't make the same mistake.

  • You should have brown nosed while you still had the chance. You want their arses to still be wet by the time someone calls to ask about you.

  • This is why I try to disguise the current company I work at when applying or only use headhunters.

  • id be contacting the legal/hr team of the company and lodging a complaint. they have zero f****** right to do so.

  • So your colleague fracked you. Frack them when you can.

  • An interviewer called my company and spoke to the director who took the call. He passed on the phone call to me and said such and such called. Then hung up. Awkward

  • +1

    a) The company didn't have the decency to let me know that I was unsuccessful.
    Unfortunately that happens at many stages of the hiring process now. I don't like it either, but I've found it often comes down to people fearful that they will say the wrong things (scared of being accused of discrimination). Even when they do, few seem to give feedback. It all comes down to "we found a better candidate" or " it was close you were within the last couple, but".
    Personally when I've turned down people for a job, I find they are the ones that want to get off the phone faster because they feel embarrassed that they didn't get it.

    b) With networking sites such as linkedin, you will find this is more often the case. Not only can you contact people you know, but it gives several degrees of connection from those people. It's also easy to connect to HR people for other companies through public profiles to get references. There has always been a bit of this previously (not what you know but who you know) but this makes it easier.

    I don't see that as unethical. What would be unethical would be:
    (1) the person in your company IF he gave you a bad report because he just doesn't like you (as opposed to because of actual things he's seen you do),
    or (2) the hiring company sharing the results with that person (but if he knew he gave a bad reference he'd probably guess anyway)

  • +4

    This is pretty normal, but it's a two-way street. I use my networks to find out information about the people who are going to interview me and I have no doubt they'll be asking the people they know the same.

  • +1

    This isn’t ideal but these things can happen. Don’t waste your energy contacting the company - nothing useful will come of it you don’t want this to be anything more than an application that didn’t work out.

    Have an idea what to say if your mgr finds out you applied externally - some companies go into retention mode depending on how key you are. If it’s really the case your chances internally are shot by gossip it mightn’t be a bad idea to keep up the search anyway.

  • +2

    Sounds like you have not many work friends anyway to be honest.

  • +2

    My take on this scenario is that you need to suck it up princess

  • +2

    Forget unethical or immoral. It’s illegal. It breaches your rights to privacy and confidentiality.

    • +7

      What right to privacy exactly? Can you please point to the law that’s been broken?

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