How To Interview For a Position Without Letting Current Boss Know

posted 3 years ago in Career
Post # 2
9899 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2016

In the past I’ve let some employers know I’m looking for new opportunities and others I haven’t. 

When I don’t let them know, it’s never been a problem. If I have an interview during work hours I take a personal/sick day. And potential employers have always asked about contacting my current employer.

When I’ve let employers know I’m looking for new jobs, I was in positions I was extremely confident I would not be told to pack up and go home. 

Post # 3
712 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

missm0392 :  Are you searching for a new job only because you feel you’ve ‘maxed out’ at your current position (ie, the job is otherwise a good fit for you – salary, work environment, etc.)?  If so and your boss is an amicable person, I’d recommend speaking to your boss about promoting or switching to another department where you can be challenged more.  However, if you have any inkling that your boss will can you if they find out you’re planning on leaving, I’d keep it to myself – many prospective employers realize and understand that you can’t always disclose to your current employer that you are seeking a new job (and therefore you request they don’t contact them); however if that’s the only experience/reference you have in your desired field of work, that may make it a little trickier.

Post # 4
7660 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

I have never let my current boss know I was looking/interviewing for new jobs while still in the position. (Except in one case where everyone at my company knew I was quitting in a few months to move across the country for DH’s job – then I could be transparent and it was a relief!)

In general, there is no need to tell your boss that you’re interviewing elsewhere. If you need to take time off for an interview, just say you’re going to a doctor’s appointment or take a personal day. As for references, use people from previous jobs, or if you have a close coworker (not your boss) that you trust at your current job you could ask them. 

Post # 5
2680 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

Do you work in an office? I’ve almost always worked remotely, so it’s been easy for me to interview. If you are in an office, you’ll most likely have to take personal days or vacation time to go on interviews. No explanation should be necessary. 

If you have any phone interviews, the interviewer should be aware that you work and be willing to try to accomodate your schedule. ie conduct the phone interview over your lunch break or first thing in the morning/last thing in the afternoon, so as to cause the minimum amount of disruption possible to your work schedule. 

Since you are planning for this way in advance, I’m wondering what your reasons are for wanting to leave your current job? You mentioned wanting new challenges- If this is the main reason you are thinking about leaving, could you ask for additional responsibility in your current role? Or maybe ask about training/development opportunities at your company?

Post # 6
1052 posts
Bumble bee

I’ve never let a current employer know I am looking / interviewing.  As a manager, I’ve never had an employee tell me they were looking/ interviewing with the exception of one person who was relocating across the country for family reasons (caring for a sick parent). 


Most employers understand that they won’t be able to contact your current boss.  If you have a close and trustworthy coworker, you could ask them to be a reference as a peer.  Honestly, most companies don’t even check references and most companies don’t give them other than verifying dates of your employment- too many legal risks involved in giving a bad review. 


As for the tactics of interviewing, phone interviews can be done from your car during lunch time or on your cell phone from a really secure conference room or before/ after work hours.  For in person interviews, just take the day off or say you have a doctor’s appointment or something.  Not a big deal.

Post # 7
236 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2017 - Eldorado Canyon State Park

I’ve asked interviewers to hold off contacting my current employer as a reference until they are prepared to offer me the job (pending good references). They’ve always respected that, I think it’s an understandable request. I also give them previous employers they’re free to contact whenever. I had an awful job it took me months to find a replacement for, and despite all the interviews, my current boss never found out until I finally had an offer in hand and gave notice, and her contact info was all over my applications (they required it), so I think you’d be safe if you were clear about why you didn’t want that person notified yet. (Usually there’s a spot on applications to explain why you don’t want certain people contacted, at least in my field.)

Post # 8
325 posts
Helper bee

  I looked for a job after five years at my current company, but I did not let my boss know. I scheduled phone calls and skype sessions for before/after work or at lunch, and had numerous “doctor”, “car”, and “dental” appointments to cover for my interviews.  It was a lot to juggle, but it also took me a while to find the position that I wanted. If I had alerted my boss that I was looking, I think that they would have nudged me out the door long before I found a job that felt like a fit. The route I took, I had the security of my job and continued work experience, which gave me the ability to find exactly what I wanted. Don’t underestimate how long it might take to find what you want to do next, especially depending on where you want to work—geographically and field-wise.

Post # 9
253 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2018

missm0392 :  Other than one situation, I haven’t told my boss that I was looking elsewhere. The one time I did, was where I was working on a temporary basis in a job at a lower level than my qualifications/experience and my supervisor was vocal about knowing that/understanding that and supporting me in finding a great permanent job. In terms of how to interview without telling your current employer, I used a variety of techniques (for the most part based around an understanding interviewer who was flexible with the timing). I’ve taken vacation days, I’ve said I have an appointment (not asking for leave or pretending it’s for the doctor or anything- just keeping it vague) in the morning/late afternoon and asked if it’s okay to makeup the time at the opposite end of my day or take a shorter lunch etc. I’ve also used vacation days and in a pinch, taken days without pay. All I’d really say, is don’t lie. Don’t pretend you’re sick or anything as that isn’t honest and can come back to bite you. Chances are, if you have more than one or two interviews, your boss might have an idea about what’s going on, but as long as you do it responsibly, it should be fine.

In terms of using your current boss as a reference, I’d generally just say not to. I’ve hired and understand prospective employees not giving their current boss as a reference and other than the one job, I’ve never given my current boss as a reference. Even if you’re short on job experience you can usually work around it somehow. If they insist on someone from your current job, you can usually find someone to appease them (ex. coworker you trust, someone who you trust that oversees your work but you don’t directly report to).  

Post # 10
9063 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: Dorset, UK

missm0392 :  I have just been in this positon as am leaving my current job this week. I asked the recruitment consultant to schedule the two interviews after 5pm. The first one I had to leave 30 mins early for so had the “Doctors” and the other was so late in the day I just left on time. I said they could have my previous employers reference which they took up and if I got offered the job they could contact my most recent employer. As it goes I got offered the job and they don’t even need another reference. I felt shitty sneaking around about it but I had to in order to protect myself and my positon should I have not ended up with the new job.

Post # 11
428 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2017 - State Park

I have literally always been open and upfront that I’m looking for work, but I’ve always been in positions where they kind of run their course – you get all the experience you can and then you move on. I’ve had bosses look for jobs for me (positively!) so it totally depends on your situation and where you are. I’ve also always had a good relationship with higher ups.

You take PTO for interviews. If you don’t want anyone to know where you are then you say you have “an appointment”. Which is true. 

You’ll have an extremely hard time finding a job if you always say that they can’t contact your current employer. In general they are only likely to call references if they intend to make an offer. It would also be reasonable to ensure that happens by asking them not to make contact until that point or listing your references as “available upon request” unless required for an application. In fact, that is how you should be listing references anyway because you shouldn’t be giving out contact info like that. 

But if you want a good reference… whoever you’re counting on should have a heads up. 

So it’s easy to have no one know: you call out for interviews and use coworkers and past supervisors for references. But it’s probably better to develop a relationship where it’s okay for you to be open about thinking it’s time to move on. People don’t spend whole careers in one place anymore.

Post # 12
9588 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2015

missm0392 :  omg no you definitely are not honest. You have “doctors appointments” and take days off and do what you need to do to get the job on the sly. Only when youve actually secured the new position and the contract is signed do you tell your boss. This is just business- no need to feel bad. 

I repeat: you DO NOT tell them before or you might be out of a job before you find a new one! Because theyll start looking for your replacement and you certainly will not move forward at the company. 

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