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I recently had an internal interview for a management position. I was interviewed by the CEO and another senior manager. The senior manager later decided he wanted to apply for the role (after conducting a number of interviews already) and was removed from the panel. He was successful in his application and will be my manager as of next week. I was just informed today.

Edit: I now understand this is indeed a conflict of interest and am seeking some possible solutions that I can share with HR in my follow up meeting tomorrow? What could possibly compensate something that was not done correctly but is too late to change? Is this just one of those things that happen and we as employees have to accept? Thank you for your help as I’m still just trying to process the situation 😊

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    You can do plenty of things about it. But what is it you want to achieve? You should include that in your question, right now all options are on the table, regardless of their consequences.
    – Stian
    Jun 23, 2021 at 8:21
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    It is a somewhat weird occurrance but it happens. If you accept and move on, or if you try to do something about it, it's up to you. Just remember that the manager didn't hire himself in that position, someone above hired him. They made a decision between him and other (you) candidates.
    – Bogdan
    Jun 23, 2021 at 8:46
  • I find it highly odd that they were allowed to suddenly apply for the post halfway through the interview process. In my experience, applications have a cut-off point where they need to be received. It's at this point an interview panel is convened and any conflicts of interest sorted out. Past this point no new applications should be accepted (including the managers - it's just tough).
    – Smock
    Jun 24, 2021 at 23:11
  • How many people total work for this company? Being interviewed by CEO suggests pretty small, in which case {realpolitik} all bets are off
    – AakashM
    Jun 25, 2021 at 9:23
  • I’m voting to close this question because the question was withdraw .
    – keshlam
    Jun 7, 2023 at 10:41

3 Answers 3

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With the exception of unlawful discrimination, companies are generally allowed to use whatever procedure they wish to determine who should be promoted. This may include interviewing all candidates, and then going with an external hire, hiring a family member to do the job, drawing straws, whatever.

Companies will often have policies in place in order to prevent the perception of unlawful discrimination though, so you can fire off a question to HR, though you should remember that HR want to make this a non-issue, as much as possible, and it's highly unlikely they'll roll back the decision.

HR may indeed decide to enact policies around this going forward, if only to avoid candidates such as yourself feeling short-changed in the future.

And just for the record, I would absolutely find this frustrating and unacceptable, but at the same time, I'd have to come to grips with the fact that they are able to do this, and there is not much I can do.

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I'm not seeing any conflict of interest - you were not interviewed by another applicant, since at the time of your interview the senior manager was not an applicant. When they became an applicant, they were removed from the process.

(It's possible that the senior manager will have been privy to any "ideal" answers at the start of the process, will have heard the answers given by any candidates before they decided to apply, and may have expressed an opinion to the CEO on earlier interviews, but the CEO will also be aware of what they knew - so they're unlikely to have got away with using this information.)

It might have looked better if people who had been interviewed earlier by someone who later became an applicant were re-called for another interview or that the interview process was restarted - if this is a policy you're suggesting HR adopt in future, that might be a useful suggestion.

If you believe you would be better at the new job than the senior manager, you could deal with it in exactly the same way as you would if someone else had been appointed. That said, this approach is unlikely to get you anywhere, and will look like you're trying to make trouble for your new line manager.

But it's not wise to mix up the two - if you're hoping HR will adopt a more thorough policy in future, you don't want it to appear that you're questioning the CEO's choice on this appointment - HR will assume you're acting out of self-interest and not for the benefit of the company.

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    The conflict of interest is, of course, being able to sit in and see the answers given by other candidates, and discuss and persuade the opinion of the CEO. In an extreme example, the manager/candidate could even sabotage the interviews of other candidates in some way, knowing the less competition the better. Jun 23, 2021 at 9:39
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    @GregoryCurrie - I think (perhaps "hope") that the CEO would spot that kind of thing, and it wouldn't have worked to the credit of the senior manager, but it's a fair point worth an edit. Jun 23, 2021 at 9:48
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    Great suggestion about adopting a policy in which the interview process restarts, I think that’s a valid point to consider - at least for the short-listed applicants. Also agree, I do not want to undermine the decision made by my CEO and trust (hope) he was able to discern any unfair advantages in this situation. My main concern here was with the integrity of the process and whether it was worth mentioning since they have requested my honest feedback. I didn’t want to complain with no solution so these responses have really helped.
    – user126951
    Jun 23, 2021 at 10:13
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    -1. The conflict of interest is that the person in the hiring committee may have known that he would apply for the position and put himself in the hiring committee to thwart other peoples attempts at getting the job. And absorb all their answers to questions from other candidates and the reactions from other hiring committee members. Then once that was done he applied himself armed to defeat any competition with his newfound ill-acquired knowledge. Clear conflict. Jun 6, 2023 at 8:58
  • @TheEvilMetal - Wasn't that the point of Gregory's comment and my edit two years ago? And wouldn't a suggestion of re-running the interviews help? We've included the idea of the pantomime villain now, but even if we accept that oh yes he is, what other practical advice could we give or have given the OP that wouldn't make their position worse? We could cry "conflict of interest", but to whom and what happens then? This questions's still accepting answers. Interested to read your solution. Jun 7, 2023 at 9:53
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You also need to consider the fact that the CEO and senior manager may have felt that non of the candidates were suitable for the job. This would have advanced the senior managers thinking, causing him to apply and adapt his position tailored to what he knew.

Regardless of what happened the senior manager interviewed from a position of advantage compared to other candidates. Either knowledge of questions, knowledge of bad and good responses and better understanding of the role offered.

Therefore the interview process was not equal and you and the other candidates were disadvantaged. I think you have a case.

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    A case for what? feeling pi**ed off?"
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 6, 2023 at 6:37
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    Welcome to workplace. Your answer would be better if you could clarify what "I think you have a case" means. A legal case or something else. Jun 6, 2023 at 8:25

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