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I started an interview process (software) with large corporation and I told the recruiter that I am primarily interested in leadership positions. He said great, but the interview panel will consider you for other roles. In order to get the onsite scheduled, the recruiter was very specific that I fill out a job application for a basic software engineer. Even after I told him that I already filled an application for the leadership position that I am interested in. The recruiter claims this is part of an internal process, but I wonder if this seems like a bait and switch where they will try to rail road me into regular developer position. Has this kind of process ever happened to anyone? In the past, whenever I am asked to fill out a job application prior to on site, it was always for the exact position (including title) that I am interested in.

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    When you say "recruiter" are you talking about an independent third party recruiter? Or a recruiter who works for the HR department of this employer? – dwizum Jun 27 at 17:10
  • Is there a leadership position open at this company? – sf02 Jun 27 at 17:21
  • Never hurts to interview. Always good to get practice, as well as to make contacts in a company. I'd absolutely go for the interview. If they don't offer you the position you want, you decline it. – Keith Jun 27 at 17:26
  • This is an internal recruiter - employed by the company. There are multiple openings at the company from leadership to senior dev to junior devs. – laconicdev Jun 27 at 21:18
  • A similar thing happened to me. I showed up to an interview for a leadership position. I was given a highly technical interview (when I was told I would not be given one). In the end, the position was given to a non-technical woman who didn't have to pass a technical interview. – Stephan Branczyk Jun 27 at 21:39
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Normally, you would not be formally "baited and switched", but a few word-of-mouth catches are not so rare AFAIK.

Either way, you can refuse whatever proposal you receive that you dislike and I wouldn't think it's a waste of time to go through the process even if you are not interested in the job. I would strongly suggest to give the same desired salary in both applications.

Recruiters are mindful not to give you shitty offers (i.e. much lower salary than your current/expected compensation) since they look bad when a candidate refuses an offer.

However, some companies have processes where at least three candidates need to be appointed by a recruiter/prospective manager and the list sent to upper management for approval. The recruiter might be asking you to apply for a position you don't want just because he needs to complete the list. If it is a very long hiring process with group dynamics or whatever and you can't waste that much time, you may consider asking the recruiter if that's the case before you need to take days off your current job for a useless interview. Even then, consider that the recruiter might be in a tough spot to find applicants and may remember you in the future if you help him out and keep it cool.

Consider as well: Why do you want a leadership role? Is it just because of the higher salary? Do you have experience in leadership positions? It is not uncommon to avoid hiring people directly into management (and leadership may not necessarily be management) positions, especially if the candidate has no true experience in such a role. Then, after a trial period, the candidate may be promoted. Could you wait 1-2 years before being given your desired leadership role?

  • Yes. The point of the application is to get the interview. Nothing more, nothing less. – O. Jones Jun 28 at 17:24
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I wonder if this seems like a bait and switch where they will try to rail road me into regular developer position.

They can't "railroad" you into anything. If they don't offer you an interview for the position you desire than don't interview with them. You're in control of which types of positions you interview for. If it seems like a bait-and-switch then simply walk away from it.

  • Perhaps "railroad" was a bit of a strong term. I meant that since the recruiter knows I want to interview for the leadership, but can structure the interview/application so it's for line developer. – laconicdev Jun 27 at 21:21
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This would be my answer:

I'm sorry. I can't fill out this second application.

I've been interviewed for the wrong position before.

It wasn't a good feeling.

I understand if this hurts my chances of being considered for the leadership position.

Whatever you decide. I wish you well.

I'm not expecting many people to agree with this answer, but honestly, this is what I would respond.

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    Yup, I don't like it. I interviewed for a senior-most-engineer-in-the-entire-company role 5 years ago. I was asked basic programming questions. I was asked business management questions. I was asked all kinds of questions. It's a thing. "I'd like a leadership job" is a lot like "I want a pony". And I would -- I really would like a pony, but I haven't the space or time for a pony right now. – Julie in Austin Jun 28 at 0:05
  • @JulieinAustin, I wasn't talking about your situation. My point was. If the potential employer is seemingly trying to 'railroad' you into something you don't want to do, my response would be to trust your gut and to start walking away. Either they'll rescind their request, or they'll let you walk away. Since the request felt so unusual to the OP to begin with, either outcome should be fine since it probably means that he won't have this issue with other potential employers anyway. And again, this would my answer and as I said I do not expect many people to agree with it. – Stephan Branczyk Jun 28 at 19:36
  • I interviewed a guy who misinterpreted the interview questions so badly that he up and left mid-interview. We were a small company and didn’t have any room for “superstars”. He was being interviewed for a senior-level position, but was also asked junior-level questions to make sure he’d be a good “fit” for our specific situation. Truly, unless the candidate is an actual mind-reader, “my gut tells me that ...” is often pretty inaccurate. At the job I mentioned, I found out later that a lot of the questions from my (future) reports were aimed at finding out whose side I was on ... – Julie in Austin Jun 29 at 12:14
  • @JulieinAustin, Fair enough. – Stephan Branczyk Jun 29 at 12:41
  • Interviewing and selecting candidates is a tricky business. I interviewed an electrical engineer at one company, then worked with him at a second. He told me how much the previous company practiced “age discrimination”. I then explained that he was right in the average for the department that was hiring him (50-somethings, which was really common for the work we were doing), but that we didn’t have an actual opening at the time. Over the years I’ve just learned to go with the flow. – Julie in Austin Jun 29 at 12:52
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The missing piece of this question is your actual experience in an actual leadership role, and how comparable that experience is to what you want.

I'm going to answer both ways - you have and haven't been a leader.

If you've never been in a leadership role before, it's important to understand that "leadership" isn't the next step after "really good at what the people I want to lead are going to be doing." It just isn't. It's an entirely different and orthogonal skill. There are also differences in personal leadership style (hands on, delegation, "trust the people", etc.) and corporate leadership style. All of that means you have to have this whole "leadership thing" and you didn't mention you have any experience, or why think you do.

If you've BEEN in a leadership role before, surely you understand that as a leader, you have to be able to relate to your people. You didn't mention the company, but they may expect their leaders to be technically competent in the areas they are leading. It really may just be their thing. But if you've been a leader, you also understand that "I wanna be a leader because I wanna be a leader" is a great reason NOT to put someone in a leadership role.

  • "'I wanna be a leader because I wanna be a leader' is a great reason NOT to put someone in a leadership role" -> I generally tend to agree, but it might be interesting to elaborate more on that. – Mefitico Jun 28 at 13:04
  • I was going to elaborate, which normally I would agree is the right thing to do. The OP didn’t provide any additional information about actual work experience, so I’m disinclined to provide additional reasoning. Most of the managers I work around now know I’m open to a management role. They also know I’m not pushing it, which is another thing people who’ve been in leadership roles understand that doesn’t require further explanation. – Julie in Austin Jun 29 at 12:18

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