You have an interview with another company. Your boss asks you directly about it? What should you say? Should you admit it? Yes.
I don't advise that you lie to your boss. Most industries are close knit groups of executives that know each other. It is probable that even if you said, no, you would still be found out. I advise that you admit it, but soften the message. Here are some suggested answers:
I did agree to meet with another company. I wasn't looking for a position, but they have sought me out based on my brand and have asked me to interview. With the current economy, I feel obligated to explore the opportunity, even though I am content where I am.
I do have a meeting scheduled with another company. I am curious about their career path options. I have struggled to advance here and I would like an opportunity to take the next step in my career. Can you help me advance my position and pay here?
Since I have been here for X years, my salary has fallen below the market value. I feel that I may have to look at other opportunities to bring me in line financially. Is there a way that I can boost my salary here to move it in line with a marketable rate?
Use this as an opportunity to gently ask for what you want. If you truly want to leave, make the requirements very difficult to meet. It is acceptable to suggest that you are looking at other opportunities if you have not been able to; advance your career, stay in line with market value for your position, obtain the responsibilities that you desire, work the type of position that you desire, or simply work hours that fit better with your family.
These conversations are much easier if you've been honest with your boss at review time and other times throughout the year. If you are unhappy, you should delicately share it with your supervisor before you interview for another position. Often times, I find, employees haven't shared their needs/wants with their employer. Don't underestimate what you could accomplish with a calm discussion with your boss.
Best of luck on your interview.
Bethany Williams is an expert in business development, personal branding, and healthcare operations. She has held high-level positions at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Perot Systems Corporation, GE Healthcare, and IDX Systems Corporation. Williams shares her stories and helpful tips on career success in her book, Winning Strategies for Women, and a popular motivational blog. She volunteers as a life coach and mentor for employees around the globe through her website and personal one-to-one visits. She currently works as an executive at a big four accounting firm, and speaks on branding, career planning, and women in business. She lives in Dallas with her husband, Michael, and her three children.