I'm meeting with a hiring manager in my company to discuss moving teams internally.

I'm anticipating them asking me why I want to move. If I be honest, it's because my current manager's management style is stressing me out. Her style isn't necessarily bad - it's just not working for me.

Trying to explain without going on a rant:

  • There is next to no organisation within the team
  • We build software in an "agile" way but we never have standup, grooming, planning, retrospectives, post mortems when things go wrong (which is frequently).
  • We have a huge key person risk in that one engineer is a lone wolf and has built huge chunks of our service with no oversight and no documentation and she cheers him on as her top performer.
  • We have huge chunks of our code base with no test coverage. She portrays our team as "high performing" to her superiors and it may look that way to them, but to me it looks like a house of cards.
  • I don't know whats coming up in any "sprint" because she will create issues the day before the sprint and drag them in, no grooming, no estimates, no planning, not even requirements. Just a jira with a vague title and a random number of story points.
  • If we don't finish the story in the sprint, she will close it to get the points and create a new story in the next sprint with a different title to continue the work - so that on our reports it looks like we have met our commitments. Sometimes the stories are blatant lies and cover something entirely different.

The reason all of this is stressful, is because I want to become a people manager in future. I want a manager I can learn from, who will mentor me on how to be a leader. This isn't a style I plan to learn.

I would prefer much, much more discipline with the team to the extent that I don't believe it's possible to move the team there in my capacity as an IC.

My question is, do I explain this to the hiring manager (honest) or make up something else?

Edit: The hiring manager may be a more senior manager in the same company.

  • 1
    Does this answer your question? How to provide feedback about an unprofessional manager during the exit interview?
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 23:32
  • @gnat It's not an exit interview, it's a job interview with a more senior manager in the company. I want to drill into their management style to make sure I don't end up in a similar situation and I'm not sure how I can ask them about their style without giving away what the problem is.
    – Christian
    Commented Dec 1, 2020 at 18:19

2 Answers 2


All of the points that you have listed as a reasons for moving have been negative. If all you do is to provide negative reasons for why you want to move, the hiring manager will probably be thinking "and what if this employee encounters negatives in the new team/department? Will they once again ask to be moved?"

Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of your current situation, you should try to explain what the new team/department provides that would contribute to your growth professionally and within the company.

You could even go through your list and put a positive spin on the negatives for your new team/department. For example instead of:

There is next to no organisation within the team

You could mention

The new team is highly organized and I would be a perfect fit for their workflow

The point is, you want to make it look like you are trying to better yourself and the company rather than running away from your problems.

  • 1
    +1. “I would benefit from a more structured environment.”
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 22:26
  • 3
    OP answered their own question inside the question as well. The manager is performing, it's just not working for them. Almost everything else is opinion on the OP's part, and a good interviewer will smell that out during the rant. It's nice information to have because they can snipe out that star engineer and put them in to a "better" environment, but the OP is unlikely to be the pick of the litter.
    – Malisbad
    Commented Dec 1, 2020 at 0:40

My question is, do I explain this to the hiring manager (honest) or make up something else?

As someone who has been interviewing candidates recently then I would say unequivocally no, do not mention any of this to the hiring manager.

I would ignore your previous role completely and just say that you really like what [insert new team here] is doing and you think you would fit in really well because [insert reasons here].

So I will give an example say you current work for AirBnB as a software developer and you hate the management because they make you work in sprints but they don't do standup meetings and they don't fully follow SCRUM and there is one developer who wrote some specific part and she's untouchable and get to do anything she wants without approval but you need 3 reviews for a label change. You want to move to say and the company that picks up your resume is AWS. You go into the phone screen and the AWS recruiter says "why are you leaving you old job?". So let's see what you want to do vs what I say you should do:

  • You want to go on a rant about one of your current co-workers who AWS have no clue about and then start ranting about how the sprint are all done incorrectly yada yada yada
  • You say "I really like what AWS is doing in the cloud space, I know it's an expanding market and I think my skillset fits in with the role"

One of these is short to the point and ticks the box for the recruiter the other sounds like a trouble maker someone who's wanting to stir stuff up. Who would you pick as the job. Also you never said anything untrue you like cloud and you like what AWS is doing and you like the team you are going to join and see yourself as a good fit.

The reason I say this is that the hiring manager will most likely be a manager themselves and may even be your new manager and so a candidate complaining about how they are managed causes doubt and questions to be raised by the hiring manager.

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