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I'm currently interviewing at a big company. The position is in a unit that is just being created. It's just now that I've met the person who would be my boss. He is 4 years younger than I (I'm in my early thirties) and has just 1 more year of experience in my field than I. Admittedly, it's with a company better than mine, but not dramatically so. I'm much better educated though - formal education matters in my field and takes time.

Our leadership experience is also very similar: we have managed project teams but not people as their supervisors.

I'm wondering whether having an experienced manager should be a red flag for a candidate. First, because he's incredibly young for this position compared to other companies. I couldn't believe it when I googled him. Secondly, because we are almost equals in terms of experience and, probably, skills.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Jim G., Lumberjack, Mister Positive, Dukeling, Sandra K Jun 13 '18 at 18:08

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Inexperienced manager - is it a red flag? -- depends on the individual manager/person.... – Mister Positive Jun 13 '18 at 17:38
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    Inexperience is one thing, but is it OK to discriminate against someone based on their age? – Lumberjack Jun 13 '18 at 17:48
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    @Lumberjack Nope, its not. – Mister Positive Jun 13 '18 at 17:49
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    @385703 It seems to me that you appear to have an implicit bias against this person because he is "incredibly young." The fact that he is 4 years your junior should have no bearing on the situation unless you are discriminating based on the person's age. – Lumberjack Jun 13 '18 at 17:56
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    VTC as this is purely opinion based. – Mister Positive Jun 13 '18 at 18:05
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It may be a concern, but only insofar as your experience in learning / skill-building.

This will happen to you more and more as you progress in your career. I've worked as a contractor for people younger than I. If they know what they're doing, it doesn't even come up.

As a director/manager: I don't expect to know more than those in my department in every area. I consider it to be a sign of a bad manager if they feel they have to know more than everyone else. I hire people because they have knowledge or skill in areas where I don't (or my skills are "shallow" in that area), but the department needs those skills.

Don't worry about how old your boss is. Worry about whether the position is good for you / your career.

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    "hire people because they have knowledge" +1 – Sandra K Jun 13 '18 at 18:10
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It depend if his management style fit with your profile. Independently of his age, it is your job during the interview to find it. Do not hesitate to ask him questions like:

  • How would you manage this situation?
  • What is your opinion about working like that?
  • How do you delegate?
  • How are you involved on the technical side of a solution?

At my mid-thirties, I had a boss that was at the end of his twenties. He was great, I work for him multiple years because we were on the same page continually.

After that, I had a more experienced boss that was forcing programmers to work the same way in the details: everybody work at the same hour, with the same tools, here the selected technologies, etc. I gave my notice after 6 months.

Again, it was not a question of age and good or bad manager. Some peoples like it because it was feeling like a team and it is less stressful if the boss decide the technologies, some people hate it because they felt trapped.

It is more a question of how you like it?

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It's only a red flag if his management style doesn't mesh well with the way you want to be managed.

Over the course of my career, some of the best managers I've had were people close to my own age with the same amount of experience as me. Some of my worst managers were people who had been in the industry for as long as I have been alive and have seen everything. Experience matters, but it isn't the only thing that matters in a manager.

What matters in their ability to manage the people on their team and get the best out of them. While management roles tend to be given to people with lots of experience, it really isn't the amount of experience someone has that determines if they will be a good manager. Managing people requires a unique set of skills and talents. Just because someone has a lot of experience doesn't mean they have developed those skills. Conversely, just because someone hasn't been working as long doesn't mean they haven't developed those skills or have a natural knack for it.

The thing to do here is think about what qualities you look for in a good manager. What kind of person do you want to work for? Then go talk to this new person who might be your manager and ask them questions that will help you decide if this is the kind of person you want to work for.

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I'd take it as a good sign. If the typical positions for the supervisor job are held by much older people, then perhaps this younger person excels in understanding people (developers) and project management.

In my current company, the two group leads for our software development team are very young, early 20's and early 30's. Many of the software developers under them are in there late 30's to mid 40's. The leads recently took over because they are better at managing people's time and issues much better than the previous leads. The teams are on their way to major improvements to their software development life-cycle and improving their priorities.

Assuming the number of years in a profession translates equally to qualification for a manager or group lead is just not the case. I'd take the younger supervisor to be a great thing in my opinion and current professional experience.

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