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I'm currently working for as a tech lead and responsible for a whole team while doing hands-on work as well. In my organization, people are first selected and interviewed by their level, profile, and background and then put into the appropriate department/project. I'm actively seeking new opportunities right now and facing the same problem with multiple companies I'm in process with where the structure is obviously different:

  • Company A - I was contacted by an external recruiter who told me about multiple opportunities in the same company. Job is again a tech lead - what I am currently doing but there are 2 roles - one for an existing team and one that is for a team that was built from scratch. My preference of course would be to be able to build my own team and be a decision-maker in the hiring process if I go to work for this company. External recruiter, in the beginning, assured me I'll be considered for both roles and they'll pick which one I'm more suitable for based on my profile. But at the same time they assigned me to a hiring manager in the department where they have an existing team already and I'll be only interviewed by people in this department, on my interview he talked only about this particular opportunity, etc. It's like the other job listing does not exist at all, although I can see it still open on the company website. I said nothing during the call with the hiring manager, maybe I should've but I didn't.

  • Company B - I get approached directly by a hiring manager and he tells me about a senior dev role in their team. I share that I am currently a tech lead and this is actually a little lower position for me although I do fit their requirements and trying to politely decline to go on an interview at all. He asks for a quick phone call just to give me some kind of clarification and trying to be polite and not to close my doors for the future, I agree to this one phone call without sending my CV or anything. While preparing for the call I see that the same company does have leading roles for other projects. At the said phone call he told me how I'll be a senior but I'll still be mentoring more junior colleagues so "it's basically the same thing" and will have some responsibilities and the most important thing is that I'll be able to grow to a higher role later in my career within the company. I mentioned the other role that seems like a better fit for me and he says that he's not responsible for it and basically we should ignore it in general and continues to insist I should be sending him my CV and go on in the process for the senior role. He never suggested contacting me with HR or another hiring manager to explore all options in their company and now I feel that even if I apply through the job listing for the other role, this will have a bad impact on my interviewing process. I told him that I'll just think about it and eventually send my resume if I decide to apply.

Now, I don't think that this has anything to do with my skills, resume, background, or whatever because I have enough experience for the "better" roles in both scenarios but I'm starting to see a pattern that I would like to avoid in the future. I think what's going on is that in general people are trying to just fill in less desired but more urgent roles within their organization faster. At the same time, the interviewing process in most companies includes 3-4 interviews that are lengthy and I don't want to potentially waste my own or any company's time applying to roles I'm not really interested in.

My questions:

  1. What is the best way of getting out of this situation when I'm already in process for "less desired role" (in a situation like the one for company A)

  2. Is there a way to avoid this happening from the very beginning?

  3. Should I consider this as a red flag for the organization in the company in general? (more appropriate for the scenario with company B)

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First of all, you need to start the process knowing exactly what you want and what (and how much) you are willing to give up. If you do not have the answers, nobody else will.

  1. What is the best way of getting out of this situation when I'm already in process for "less desired role" (in a situation like the one for company A)

Based on your strategy:

a) make it very clear to them that you want job XYZ instead of job ABC; be prepared to be refused;

b) if you are refused, thank for the opportunity and leave.

  1. Is there a way to avoid this happening from the very beginning?

No, there is no way. Surprises can happen at any moment, in spite of your efforts.

  1. Should I consider this as a red flag for the organization in the company in general? (more appropriate for the scenario with company B)

Not necessarily. While it is not the best behavior a company can show, you need to be aware that the managers are people. They try to solve their own problems, before solving the problems of other colleagues. So they will try to persuade you to go to their team, instead of going to another team.

It is not really OK, but not necessarily a red flag against the company either.

Another thing is that companies often keep the attractive positions for internal promotions. These positions are advertised publicly only because it is required by law (or other similar reasons). And if this is the case, then the company might actually be a good company - preferring internal promotions.


Several years ago I applied for a job as Software Project Manager (SWPM). I was contacted by HR, arranged a meeting, had 2-3 confirmation exchanges (mail or voice). One of these was minutes before the interview, while I was driving to the location. The job was still SWPM. Right after the interview started, I understood that they were interviewing for a role as a programmer. I clarified the topic, they explained that the SWPM job was no longer available, but they considered that I could fit as a programmer. I told them that I was disappointed in their lack of professionalism, thanked them for the opportunity, wished them a nice weekend (it was a Friday late afternoon) and left. I never regretted it.

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    +1 for saying that it's not necessarily a red flag for the company. In many big companies, business units are much more like indipendent companies rather than just departments. There is fierce internal competition. It's possible that the second-best option for the interviewer is you not working at all for the company if you refuse to work for their unit. – nicola Jun 11 at 8:18

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