My former boss just left the company and a colleague of mine took over his responsibilities temporarily. Now, this colleague of mine has already been prepared beforehand to take up a leading position in the future. He is also on very good terms with our department manager. As far as I - or anyone else I have spoken to in my team - is concerned, it is pretty much guaranteed that this colleague of mine will be the next permanent head of our team. Nevertheless, the company has to accept applications for any position (by company rules) - even if that is often only pro-forma.

I have been wondering if I should apply myself as well. Not even because I think I have a chance of getting this job as the head of our team (Even though my profile fits the job description ~80%, I am the youngest and newest employee by far in this team), but instead to signal to the higher-ups that I have this kind of ambition and that I think I would be qualified to lead a team in the future as well.

Do you think that would be a bad idea? I am not really afraid of 'offending' anyone and I think I can handle the pressure/unrest this would generate in our team, but I am a bit concerned if this would be seen as being 'uncooperative' or 'unrealistic' by the higher ups (mainly the department manager).

  • Is your company actually taking applications for this position?
    – mcknz
    Jul 13, 2019 at 14:34
  • Yes, internally. Jul 13, 2019 at 14:37
  • 3
    are you qualified for this position? The way they advertised it, yes I would think so (since they seem to have designed it for my colleague, who basically does similar things as I do). If the colleague wasn't around would they choose you to fill the role? That is hard to know for sure, but I think they would at least take it into consideration. Jul 13, 2019 at 15:39

2 Answers 2


If you want to role, and you think you are suitable for the role, you should apply.

Don't worry about other candidates, think about how you would fit the role.

You need to think about if you have the kind of experience they are after. Do you have the required skill set?

If you are going into that interview very under-qualified then, yes, that would be bad and a waste of time. But you need to approach it as-if there was no lock-in.

  • 2
    I'd also add that even if the person is never going to get the job anyways, it still sends a signal to management that the person is interested in a new role, and may lead to other interesting opportunities.
    – Stig Tore
    Jul 15, 2019 at 7:52

Ambition is one thing. Being the right person for the job is another.

Whether or not somebody else is better suited for the job is irrelevant. What you need to consider is what kind of message you give to management. Considering that you're the newest, the youngest, and presumably the least experienced, would you come across as someone who is over-ambitious? What did you say during performance reviews, about what your expectations were? And what did they say?

There's a theory that you keep getting promoted until the point that you find yourself in a job for which you are underqualified or otherwise unsuitable. I've seen this happen more than once during the ±25 years of my career. It's uncomfortable and awkward, especially for the person concerned, and particularly so if management decides he/she has to go.

Your career path should be towards what you excel at, or what you could excel at if your challenged yourself. If you are good at dealing with a group of diverse people, including hiring the right people and sacking those that can't perform, sure, go ahead and go for a lead/line management position.

But be honest with yourself: are you the right person for the job?

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .