How to Prepare for a Job Interview in Your Competitor’s Company

Competitive job interviews are fairly common these days. If you are a productive member of your company, it's likely that the competition will see that and want to hire you away. These competitive job interviews can help you get ahead in your career, but you need to be aware of the pitfalls or issues that could prevent you from taking the job…

Your Biggest Obstacle: Non-Compete Clause

Many companies will include a non-complete clause in your contract, and this clause could make it all but impossible for you to get a job at your company's direct competition. You will need to check over your contract before you accept any job interviews, to make sure that there is nothing in it specifying that you cannot take your skills elsewhere.

This CNN article will help you understand a bit more about the non-compete clause…

Preparing Your CV and Cover Letter

Discretion is the name of the game in a competitive interview. You need to be respectful of your current employer, so make sure that your CV and cover letter reflects your respect:

  • Remove any items that could involve the competitor. For example, if you closed a big sale over the competing company, remove the specific details.
  • Make it a personal letter. Instead of "we" or "our team", make it "me" or "I". It's more about your personal wins instead of the wins of your company-their competition.
  • Mention the fact that you DIDN'T sign a non-compete agreement.
  • For those making the move to contact the competition, use your cover letter to inform the employer that you are or were working in the same industry. You can use "Company Confidential" in the "Company Name:" field.

Dangers of Competitive Interviews

Here are a few things to watch out for when interviewing for a job at your company's competition:

  • Mining for Information -- Many unscrupulous companies will just try to pump you for information on your company, but there will not really be a job vacancy. If the questions get too specific about your company and its operations, be wary of the interviewers.
  • Violating Your Contact -- You probably signed one or more of the following: non-compete agreement, non-solicitation agreement, non-disclosure agreement, and ownership of intellectual property agreement. Be certain to read over your contract to make sure that you're not violating any of these clauses.
  • Using Confidential Information -- When you write up a CV or cover letter with specific examples of what you've done, make sure that you're not using any information that is confidential or proprietary. You can make dummy documents that contain fake information that show examples of what you did, but you CANNOT use real information from your company.

The truth is that you need to be very careful about going to an interview at your competitor's company. There is a very real chance that they may be trying to get information from you, and you could end up being fired from your current company just because you went to the interview.

Even if it is a real job interview, be very hesitant to share more information than is absolutely necessary. Share as much information as you can about yourself and the way you work, but steer clear of anything that would relate to your company and its operations. It's the only way to be safe!

Most importantly, read carefully over your current contract to ensure that you aren't violating the terms of your agreement by going to this interview. Consult a lawyer to help you navigate the very tricky waters of this interview.