I've recently moved to a new business unit within a fairly large organisation (2,000 people). I was recruited as a senior project engineer, but after arrival I was asked to line manage a team of five web developers.

This team has been without a proper line manager for a year and the role was being covered by my new manager. She's done a good job but is too senior within the organisation to have the time required to do this well.

I'm happy to do this in the short to medium term - I have previously run a software development team in my previous role, albeit with a very different set of technologies. One of the things that I have picked up is trying to recruit a permanent team lead.

The team has a difficult relationship with the rest of the organisation - they feel that their skill set isn't understood by some of the decision makers above them. This is partially true, but partially due to the attitude of some members of the team, which has become very confrontational. I think the situation has been aggravated by the lack of close management for such a long time. The trust between the team and others in the organisation needs to be rebuilt, which is something that I am slowly making progress with. There is clearly no easy fix.

It's worth adding that there are no concerns about the technical ability of the team or approach to their work, which is good to excellent - the issues are all around how they interface with other people.

Due to the trust issue, I feel that it is important to get the team's buy in to the interviewing process. The current format for the face to face interview is:

45 minutes: me, my manager + HR (general questions and company fit)

45 minutes: 2 members of dev team (technical assessment)

30 minutes: meet the rest of the team + me informally over a coffee

15 minutes: wrap up

I'd like opinions on how much influence we should allow the development team to have in choosing their manager - at the moment we would veto a hire if they weren't happy. It's unusual within our organisation for team members to have any say on who their manager is and I'm now starting to come into conflict with others in the organisation who think that they shouldn't be allowed a say. I think they should have a say as this will help with the issue of rebuilding trust, but I'm beginning to question my judgement.

2 Answers 2


I've been a somewhat similar situation. I'd give a lot of weight to the team's technical interviewers, less to just the impressions from the coffee klatch participants.

A lot of technical people are not great interviewees from the social point of view. They are working with computers at least in part because they like a job where they don't have to interact with strangers very much. These candidates are often nervous and find it difficult to relax and be themselves when interviewing.

I wouldn't give the team members an absolute veto, but I'd be very reluctant to hire a person if any employee the candidate (including managers as well as peers) would be working with has serious reservations about the candidate.

How do you collect the opinions from the different interviewers? I think it's better for each interviewer to give his or her opinion separately in an email or one-on-one discussion before having a group discussion on the candidate.

I agree with The Joel. It's better to pass on a good candidate than risk hiring a possible misfit.

  • I agree about collecting individual opinions - at the moment this has been done by group discussion, but I think people (in general) have a tendency to anchor to the first opinion given. I'll ask for this to be changed. Also +1 for the Joel comment, this has informed how I've interviewed in the past.
    – RichN
    Jul 2, 2015 at 21:29
  • Technical people would be better social and technical interviewers if they were given actual training in that set of skills. IBM has some very good materials on that topic -- and makes them available only to managers, apparently out of fear that we'd use them to look better in interviews.I understand that (bad) rationale, but in that case they shouldn't be asking us non-managers to get involved in interviewing. At the very least they should give us the basic "how to conduct an informative and legal interview" intro. Grump, grump, grump...
    – keshlam
    Jul 5, 2015 at 3:02

I walked into my current job with an interesting scenerio. I am an UX Designer, and I was told, when I was being interviewed, that I would be working with the UX Lead in a team of 2, and help develop a full UX team in the next 1-2 years.

However, it seems like as soon as I was hired, the team lead submitted his notice to leave his current position. So from day 3 onward, I have no direct manager. I report to the CTO, who clearly has no time to manage me. Meanwhile, they'd been trying to hire a UX Lead to manage me.

Of course, they feel I have to be in the interview process since for now I am the only person who will be working with him/her. The interview process also includes: the CTO, the Director of R&D, one of the product managers and the director of HR. We each get 30 minutes with the candidate.

There has been a time or two when my opinion collide with other interviewers. So the CTO, who is the ultimate hiring manager, have to weight out how much my opinion counts. I mean, I am the only person that will have to work with him/her. So, I think this came down to being his general rule: if I believe there is no way I can or will work with this person, then, it's a no-hire, regardless what the other people think. If I think I can work with him/her, but for whatever reason, I prefer candidate y while others prefer candidate x, he will listen to everyone's opinion, and if he thinks the others outweight mine, then obviously, he will try to explain to me why he thinks candidate x should be the one moving forward.

I think you will have to employ a similar strategy. If someone in the team has a strong negative reason about the candidate and strongly oppose to the hire, that is the ultimate decision. After all, they are the ones who have to work directly with the manager. Especially if you value the team's work. It's obvious that they already work well together without a manager.

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