I'm a software developer with 4+ years of experience. I'm socially awkward and always try to avoid daily meetings in my agile work environment. I'm planning to move out of my current company and I have got a better offer (both in pay and role) from another company with a role of technical lead.

I believe I'm not ready for the tech lead role yet. But still I want to give it a try as it can be a game changer for my career and me. I have even planned to fake it till I make it.

Again, I think it may not be fair not to inform about my incompetency to my future employer. So will that be considered dishonesty if they find out about my shortcomings in future? How can I inform them politely, I may not be a great fit for lead role but would be great addition to the team as I'm technically strong.

PS: I was already able to fake it in the interview. So it wouldn't be a problem for me.

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    Technical Leads are often expected to do a lot of communication with both your team members and other teams/customers that will be using services your team is developing. If that is something you are not prepared to do, I would reconsider what you want before continuing. Even if you could fake it on the job, it would grind you down in a year or two. – Juha Untinen Sep 25 at 9:53
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    Possible duplicate of Can I turn down a promotion and can doing so affect my career? – gnat Sep 25 at 10:03
  • @gnat Not a duplicate. the role is still technical, but with added responsibilities. My concern is I may not be a correct fit for the role. – Ms.Tamil Sep 25 at 10:09
  • Are you interviewing for a tech.lead role, or were you interviewing for something else and are they offering you the tech.lead position instead of the original one? – Erik Sep 25 at 10:49
  • Did you discuss any of this in the interview ("I'm socially awkward and try to avoid daily meetings in my agile work environment."). Probably you didn't say that exactly, but maybe it came up ("what are your thoughts on daily meetings?" etc.) – Brandin Sep 25 at 11:05
up vote 14 down vote accepted

My own experiences might be relevent here, I too am a developer who dreads daily meetings (I'm a high-functioning autistic and calling me "socially awkward" would be like calling a hurricane a "slight breeze") and some years ago I moved into more technical lead/management roles, twice by accident and once by design.

My technical skills and general nous were more than sufficient for roles of such seniority but my social weaknesses and poor people skills were a major achillies heel.

Now there's no saying for sure whether you'll experience the same and with some work on your soft skills you may blossom into that side of the role. However if you're already taking steps to avoid daily stand ups then the omens aren't good.

Getting on to the question of whether you are being "dishonest" with the new company, well that sort of depends on exactly what you mean by "faking it" in the interview, if we're talking about acting more confident then you felt, well I wouldn't call that dishonesty, more standard operating procedure in interviews. If on the other hand you've claimed experience that you don't actually have that's quite serious and I'd expect any offer to be withdrawn once they find out about it (and the chances are quite good that sooner or later they are going to find out).

Assuming you have presented your technical skills and experience accurately to them (and given you've already gotten the offer on the table) then I'd suggest giving it a shot, just go in with your eyes open and be prepared to put a lot of effort into the soft-skills side. I'm not saying it will be easy but taking any substantial steps in your career is going to require you to step outside your comfort zone a bit.

  • That analogy between autism and hurricanes is the best thing I've read this this week. Also a great answer. Arguably every change in job requires a change in your skillset, as long as you're prepared to adapt and learn there's nothing inherently wrong with feeling ill-equipped. In fact, whether it's hard or soft skills, that sentiment is quite common – Sam3000 Sep 26 at 1:08

You don't really know if you're incompetent as a lead programmer. You haven't tried yet. "Faking it" is a perfectly legitimate approach to new challenges, and nobody's going to complain if you can fake it well enough to be productive. You don't have to be confident, although, depending on the job, you might have to appear confident. Don't succumb to impostor syndrome.

Assuming you didn't lie about something in your interviews, then the decision to offer you the lead job is your new employer's. Like any such decision, it may be a good one or a bad one. If it turns out that you're a bad lead programmer, as long as you're doing your best, that's not your fault.

Since you want to be a lead programmer, and you have the opportunity, go for it and do your best. Even if you fail, you can learn things that may serve you (and your employer) well later.

You probably want to talk with your manager before stepping into a new role. Your manager knows you don't have any experience in what you're doing, and will expect you to have problems at first. Don't take them too seriously, and don't be afraid to ask for guidance.

  • I've told my current employed (during the interview process) that I had no experience (my prior job title being a lie, but still the job title I had (that is, my official job title did not accurately reflect what I did)), and that I didn't know if I could be a lead, but that I was still interested in giving it a shot. I got hired anyway. So, yes, there's nothing wrong with not knowing and nothing wrong with letting your supervisors know that you're figuring things out. They knew that when they gave you the job. – Draco18s Nov 8 at 17:41

The question that you ask is if you "should tell the new employer that you feel incompetent for the job". What is the effect of doing this? For sure it will be negative, as you will loose some of the employer's trust, which you may or may not recover later. The benefit is that you will get back to your risk free comfort zone. Is this what you want?

Reading between the lines, it seems that the real question that bothers you is if you should take the risk you already planned to take. If you want to advance in your career, you should be ready to take risks. There will be situations, even as a developer, when you will not have the option to say "I don't know" - you will have to say that you know and find a way to learn behind the scenes. There is no difference here. You will take the risk. If you succeed, you will get into a new comfort zone and your career will be at the next level. If you fail, you will have to take more decisions then.

Good luck!

  • There is always the option of admitting ignorance – Bwmat Sep 25 at 19:09
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    There is always the option of taking any option you may want to take. After all, we live in a free world. We are talking here about options that move us towards our goals, and their consequences. – zenegant.io Sep 26 at 5:48
  • For sure it will be negative, as you will loose some of the employer's trust - on the contrary, you can gain even some by admitting your weakness so that your boss can send you to a training etc. I hate it for example when people tell me they can do something when in reality they have no idea how to approach it. I prefer they told me from the beginnig that they didn't feel comfortable so that we could prepare them better. Nobody is perfect but deceiving everyone isn't going to be a sign of trust. I'll give you a virtual downvote because I'm too cheap to waste my limited rep ;-] – red-shield Sep 26 at 7:32
  • There is nothing wrong in admitting your weakness, in a team that has psychological safety (google it). But the situation is more complex than that in this case. He is new to the team. There is no warranty that the team is indeed psychologically safe (most are not). He lied already in the interview. All these are risks for him and exposing himself under THESE circumstances is not a good move for him at this moment. Maybe later, but not now. It's ok to downvote, no worries. One more thing: the fact that he "feels" that he is incompetent does not mean that he is indeed incompetent.. ;-) – zenegant.io Sep 26 at 13:28
  • @zenegant.io 'he fact that he "feels" that he is incompetent does not mean that he is indeed incompetent'. thanks for the vote of confidence :) I'm reading about impostor syndrome as suggested in another answer. BTW 'he'..? did you just assume my gender? – Ms.Tamil Sep 27 at 7:03

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