Can We Contact Your Current Employer?
As you go through the interview process or are filling out forms with your information, you may come across the question, “Can we contact your current employer?” That is a tough one and puts you in a complicated position on how to respond if you are in a live interview.
Imagine HR is interested in your profile and thinks you are a good fit but wants to speak with your current boss first. In many cases, when you are job hunting, you are in stealth mode, in other words, people at the company don’t know you are on the job hunt. If they were to find out, it could put you in a predicament, sour relations, or maybe in a worst-case scenario, end your current employment.
Is “Can We Contact Your Current Employer?” An Appropriate Question?
What HR sometimes doesn’t realize is that this is inappropriate and could negatively affect you at your current job if you don’t get the new one. Imagine you don’t get the job, and everything has gone sour at your current job. You just got screwed! HR should contact previous employers but not the current one. Frankly, if they are not sold on your profile, experience, and the value you bring to the company, they are looking at the wrong candidate.
It is suggested that you provide the interviewer 3-5 references if possible, but they don’t need to be from the current company. If they ask for a reference from your current employer, you can tell the recruiter that they will have to make their decision without talking to your boss or anyone from your current company as this could jeopardize your work situation. This is a plausible argument and should suffice.
Of course, this is an awkward situation, but you have already furnished a resume, Linkedin URL, cover letter, recommendations, etc. They have what they need. If they can’t find enough there, they might be amateurs. They are not serious. The only time I would give the recruiter permission to speak with my boss is if and only if I had already left the company and left on undeniably great terms.
You would be surprised at how often this question comes up in an interview and, more specifically, asked on forms. Obviously, you do not know how it is interpreted on a form if you say No to “Can we contact your current employer?” But it is definitely clearer when you are speaking with a recruiter and are asked this. Just professionally state that you would like the recruiter to use your other references as you don’t want to jeopardize your current situation at the company. Once again, if they keep on poking and asking to speak with them, it may be best to walk away from this interview.
Has this happened with you in the past? Has a recruiter or hiring manager asked if they could contact your current boss? What did you say? How did you react? What happened? Please share your experience with the community so we can all learn from it.
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