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I'm a sr. Software engineer on a small team. I have a great boss (not micro manager), but he is a non technical manager which is completely fine. We are really short on developers and after great struggle got recs approved for them. He posted the jobs and has been interviewing software engineering candidates. I requested many times to keep me in the loop and I would like to help to find a good candidate. But he has been ignoring me and the rest of the team and is doing interviews by himself. I just don't know what he is asking these candidates and how he is determining technical skills.

I'm afraid that he is going to hire someone who is not a good fit for the type of work we do. How can I convince him to let me take a basic technical interview before he makes such a big decision. Is he concerned that me interviewing a candidate threatens his position? What is the issue? I'm confused hiring new candidates is a big deal right? He gave an update today saying that he is moving forward with one of the candidates. So clearly he doesn’t plan on looping us in.

  • Good question. I think your concern is misplaced but quite common and well worth addressing. – P. Hopkinson Jul 17 at 7:53
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    Did he make a good choice when he hired you? What reason do you have to mistrust his judgement? And what qualifications/experience do you have for doing interviews? – Kilisi Jul 17 at 8:00
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    @Kilisi I am head of hiring from local universities for universities. I dont mistrust him, its just something he admits to he had no technical experience. I mean i cant interview a civil engineer even if i wofk in the industry. – hamadkh Jul 17 at 12:49
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    I think your concerns are reasonable. I don't think I've ever works anywhere that didn't include some of the technical team in the interview process. Not only to ensure that the candidate is technically competent, but also because they'll eventually have to work with the person if they're hired. – Barmar Jul 17 at 14:36
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Given that you are short on developers it could mean that to save your time your manager is doing the first round of interviews to decide cultural fit. If candidates are selected they could do a second round with one of the developers.

If you're concerned I'd suggest talking to your manager 1 on 1 to ask what the plan is and how you can help to make sure the best candidate is selected.

Since you added to the question that he is planning to go forward and actually hire someone, please take a look at some of the other answers.

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Drop the issue. You have asked and your manager has said no.

It is reasonable to be concerned about the situation but ultimately it is your managers responsibility, and not yours. There are a few reasons your manager might not want you in the loop:

  1. He doesn't need technical advice. Presumably he has hired people before and, rightly or wrongly, feels capable of hiring a good developer without needing external input (did he hire you?).
  2. He wants to put the new candidate on a level playing field with the rest of the team. Letting team members into the hiring process can sometimes create the false impression of seniority. Maybe he has had a bad experience with this in the past.
  3. He wants you to spend more time on software development.

You also need to think about the way you approached the situation. You effectively told your boss "I don't trust your competence". A more mature approach would have been to ask to be included in interviews as a career development opportunity.

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    He didnt hire me he is actually a new manager. As far as my approach I said I would like to help him. When ever he is in meetings with us he casually jokes and admits his technical skills are zero which everyone knows and no one expects him to know. At the end of the day his decision affects the devs. Also i am already head of recruiting for my company for new hires from university. As far as seniority I am senior and technical lead and lead developer on the app. So I dont know why i shouldnt be involved. – hamadkh Jul 17 at 12:55
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    One of the main reasons im confused is that when interviewed at other companies in past there would always be a sr dev to ask me questions – hamadkh Jul 17 at 12:56
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    Could you explain what you mean when you say Letting team members into the hiring process can sometimes create the false impression of seniority.? Who has this impression the team or the candidate? And where does it come from? (Great answer tho!) – statox Jul 17 at 13:34
  • The second bullet alone is worth a +1. (Not that the rest isn't good too...) – João Mendes Jul 17 at 14:57
  • I do think that "pride" is a strong possible motivating factor as well which is worth enumerating. But generally good answer. – Asteroids With Wings Jul 17 at 15:48
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Your manager will learn in time. My boss did that once, hiring someone against actual objections from his engineers (before I started) and it turned out to be a complete disaster. They still talk about him, and the boss has learnt.

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  • I think the OP's idea is to avoid this costly mistake, but you are still correct. Sometimes it's hard to let people make a mistake to learn from, especially in business and when you know you're going to be dealing with that (potential) mistake for a while. – computercarguy Jul 17 at 17:07
  • Well, it could turn out really well, after all, he hired the current team. The poster did not say the manager has a history of bad hires. But rather go through the risk of a bad hire, he should get the team involved. See my suggestion of suggesting to help the hiring manager by setting up a technical test to use. It sounds like a win/win situation for both parties. – fran Jul 18 at 4:20
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If your goal is to ensure that the new hire is technically up to scratch, ask your manager if you can provide a technical test, or setup a test online via 3rd party supplier.

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  • With an emphesis on that you get to review said result and relay that back to your boss. At the very least it gives him a "is this guy worth the money" kind of information :) – Martijn Jul 17 at 14:35
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    As a programmer I feel I need to add: Think of small excersises. Nobody likes to spent 4 hours on a job they might not get. Small puzzles should be enough :) – Martijn Jul 17 at 14:36
  • Agree, this is only to check if the person can basic knowledge they claim. Any developer with say at least 2/3 year's experience should be able to show that they have good problem-solving skills, and know the basics of the languages they have on the cv/resume. – fran Jul 18 at 4:26
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But he has been ignoring me and the rest of the team and is doing interviews by himself. I just don't know what he is asking these candidates and how he is determining technical skills.

I would ask more openly about what the full hiring and interview process is. If the hiring manager is indeed doing all of the interview himself, talk to him about how you could help. Approach it from the point of view that you believe the whole team should have say in evaluating the new team member instead of from the point of view that your new manager isn't technical enough to evaluate the candidate.

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