1

I have been in teams of medium and big sized tech companies in which new people were added to the team without an interview or a normal interview. I found out that the new persons were related to employees who were 1 or 2 levels higher up in the team.

In one case, I potentially lost an opportunity because of this and in the other case, the new person was too junior for the role and was refusing to do entry level work that all of us had done when we were at that level. I want to avoid this kind of stuff in the future.

How can I or a company prevent/reduce this kind of nepotism or at least try to? Here is one way I can think of. Whenever a manager says they are going to add a new person to the team without an interview, then I'll ask if the new person is related to any employee in the company. If no reply, then I'll reach out to upper levels and bring my concerns. Hopefully the upper level person is not the one pushing the new person to be hired. Is there a better way?

PS - Here is the back story which is optional reading.

I worked in a team in which my manager said that they want to add a new junior member to the team. That person has almost zero experience for the role. I asked the manager what the interview process will be like. Then he said that there might or might not be an interview for the junior person, and he will figure out the next steps. Fast forward to a few weeks and this new person was added. Then, the person complains that they will not do entry level work which all of us have to do. Apparently the new person felt that this work was beneath them and the manager told the rest of us not to give the junior "bad" work. Unfortunately, none of us questioned this and dug deeper. Fast forward to few more weeks and this person is avoiding taking on responsibility as much as possible. They are producing substandard work and are trying to push work onto others. They are only taking as little work as possible perhaps to look a little busy. I also learned that the new person is related to someone at the company which now explains things a bit. The old manager is not with us anymore and I am not sure I can speak freely with the new manager about the new person.

5
  • 7
    As long as you don't have a say in interviewing or hiring, I don't see how you have control of whether nepotism happens. Apr 1, 2023 at 0:15
  • 1
    So the old manager dropped this family disappointment on your group and then scarpered? Why do you think you can't speak about it freely with the new manager? Apr 1, 2023 at 0:32
  • 3
    I've hired dozens and interviewed 100s of people and never was pushed or even just nudged to hire some based on a connection to someone in the company (other than recommendation which are always appreciated). Most companies have an explicit policy against this: once a I hired a (highly qualified) intern who was the son of an employee and I had to to all kind of justifications and extra paper work with HR. If you see nepotism on a regular basis, I suggest looking somewhere else.
    – Hilmar
    Apr 2, 2023 at 6:52
  • Who is this person related to? That's the first question you should be asking yourself. Knowing how high in the company that person is the most important question. The second question you should be asking yourself is what's written in the employee manual, if anything. Apr 2, 2023 at 18:17
  • @StephanBranczyk - Thanks. I don't recall any mention of nepotism or such in the employee manual. But, I'll check and get back. I wonder if its good to ask the hiring manager this in an interview.
    – MasterJoe
    Apr 4, 2023 at 6:07

4 Answers 4

8

The company where I currently has a policy in place that tries to mitigate the problem of nepotism in two ways:

  1. any conflict of interest related to business decision, be it real or perceived, has to be disclosed
  2. employees with a familiarity relationship cannot work in the same department

As you can see:

  • it is a company wide policy, to prevent backslash on the company image when it comes to business conduct
  • it can still be circumvented, but it requires more coordination among more actors, so to say

Without a company policy I am afraid there is little you can do on your own. With a personal initiative against nepotism cases somebody higher up than you in the corporate ladder can easily hide your findings under the carpet and keep an eye on you in case you make waves.

2
  • 1
    "it is a company wide policy, to prevent backslash" What do they have against \? Apr 6, 2023 at 0:56
  • Perhaps they make it too easy for unsavory characters to escape early termination. A single misinterpreted quotation may be plausible but when there’s five or six of them within a short time frame, it starts to feel more like intentional misdirection. Apr 12, 2023 at 5:40
6

The problem you will encounter is that Nepotism is mostly legal. And even when it's illegal, it's really difficult to 'prove' to the standard required to be illegal.

If you don't have Hiring/Firing authority - then you are most likely up a certain creek without a Paddle. Your options are either:

1: Bite the bullet and get on with it.
2: Leave and go elsewhere.

However, you may have some options - your Company if it is of a sufficient size to have multiple layers of management - will probably have some documentation on hiring procedures - which will likely have a section to do with Nepotism in there 'All positions must go through a proper advertisement period'. At best you could point this out to HR and hope for the best, but even then - I've seen companies with well documented processes go through the motions of pretending to advertise a position, when the candidate has already been chosen.

Much past that though - yeah, it sucks.

3
  • 2
    While nepotism is not illegal, it may be a reason to fire two people. It’s not illegal to hire someone who can’t do their job, but someone can get fired for it. The question is: If the person hiring isn’t the company owner, are they doing the job? And are other employees negatively affected?
    – gnasher729
    Apr 1, 2023 at 16:15
  • Its hard to leave the job, just because of one person and especially when I have joined the job a few months ago. But, in the long term, I guess its better to just accept it and see how it plays out later. Then, leave if it causes problems that the manager cannot or will not address.
    – MasterJoe
    Apr 4, 2023 at 6:19
  • @gnasher729 - "And are other employees negatively affected" This is the problem in my situation, especially when the newcomer wants to avoid doing entry level duties to begin with. They use the manager to tell us that they should be given "higher" quality work, despite not being ready for it. The same manager expects us to sometimes do the work that the newcomer wants to avoid.
    – MasterJoe
    Apr 4, 2023 at 6:34
3

It’s not your company

When it is your company, you can set the policies and procedures about nepotism. It’s possible the company was formed specifically to give sinecures to friends and relations.

In any event, hiring people because you know them is at least as reliable as hiring from CVs and interviews.

2

Have a robust interview process and stick to it.

If a candidate normally talks to 3 people and takes 2 quizzes, then have them do so, even if they are the boss' nephew. You can't really get away from claims of favoritism but conducting a normal process that everyone has to sign off on will go a long way towards mitigating problems. (Of course, if you do this and everyone says "no" but the boss hires them anyway then whaddya-gonna-do. Maybe brush up your resume and brace for the circus that this company might be turning into.)

The one exception, I think, is if an interview section is irrelevant because you already know the person, you can skip it. e.g., if you are hiring your coworker from a previous company, and you give the technical part of the interview, and you already know their level of expertise because you worked with them for 5 years, it's okay to skip your part of the interview rather than waste time.

It's more questionable if I know you, I'm hiring you, but my coworker Bob (who does not know you) normally gives the technical quiz. I can't reasonably say "Hey Bob, let's skip your part, I know this person and they don't need to be quizzed." I may know that but Bob doesn't. Bob should conduct his normal interview process.

(If the boss normally does a 30 minute "sit and chat" for his part of the interview, he can skip his part when hiring his nephew. Everyone else, however, should conduct their normal interview section.)

And maybe just as a P.S. here, giving jobs to people you know can be a great thing. When we hire, the first thing I do is ask if anyone knows anyone who's looking. You are getting someone who's already been partially vetted by someone on the team. It only becomes "nepotism" if they get unfair favoritism.

2
  • A lot of good points in your post. However, IMO even if some of the interviewers know the interviewee's skills & personality, the team should still do all stages of the interview. Here are these reasons for that (1) The interviewee might be highly incompatible with the interviewers who don't know him/her, (2) The interviewee might have changed in some way which can be a problem, (3) I want to avoid even the appearance of nepotism. Additionally, I want to avoid the possibility of people hiring others mainly because they are buddies.
    – MasterJoe
    Apr 6, 2023 at 0:03
  • Yes, its time to start interviewing when nepotism happens, especially when the hired person is being unreasonable or is simply incompetent.
    – MasterJoe
    Apr 6, 2023 at 0:05

You must log in to answer this question.

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