1

Just want to share a bit of a background before I ask my question:

Background

I am a 25 year-old IT Practioner with around 4 years of Experience.

I have had a solid 1-year experience in managing personnel during my tenure with a previous High Performance company, in which my position was a Senior Engineer, but i was given a Lead role (Team Lead, Technical/Functional Lead, Subject-Matter Expert).

I was recently (July 2016) hired as an offshore Application Support/Development "Lead" in another BPO Company And I am the pioneer on this Offshore team.

Question/Problem

Now, I am tasked to interview an applicant with Over 15 years experience in the IT Field. My manager mentioned that if the applicant will pass the interview, he will work directly under me as one of my staff.

I haven't had the experience in handling personnel that are older than me by many years. He is presumably as old as my father so I'm feeling quite awkward and intimidated.

How can I somehow make this less awkward than it is and maintain the relationship as Lead/Staff without him feeling disrespected?

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    A solid 1 year of experience? – WorkerDrone Jan 24 '17 at 20:36
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    @WorkerDrone, 1 year of management experience. – HLGEM Jan 24 '17 at 20:39
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    What culture/country? In some cultures this would not be a big deal at all, in others it is a major issue. – Myles Jan 24 '17 at 21:08
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    What WorkerDrone is hinting at is not that your year of experience was not challenging or fulfilling, but that even if it was the most strenuous and rewarding 365 days, it was still only a year. You will have trouble using your 1 year of experience as leverage when trying to prove yourself. Due to your age as well, you will indeed have to work a little harder to prove yourself to your employees, as well as gain their respect. But, once they have noticed you are competent, any prejudices against your age will fade. – Prodnegel Jan 24 '17 at 21:09
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    Possible duplicate of How to gain respect from more experienced co-workers – gnat Jan 24 '17 at 21:39
7

Treat him like you would any colleague your age.

I would definitely ask him though, "How do you feel about working for someone younger than you and even with less experience?"

That way you're addressing it right away and it's not the "elephant in the room" that nobody talks about.

You're superior to him by position. Act it. Don't be intimidated. Respect his skill and experience but don't let him push you around either.

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    Key word: RESPECT. It works both ways. – SiXandSeven8ths Jan 24 '17 at 19:09
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    Well, yes. I think that's a standard regardless of circumstances. But there are people who will use their greater experience to intimidate someone younger or less experienced, even if that person is their boss. I've seen it. – Chris E Jan 24 '17 at 19:41
  • I've seen it and I've felt it as well before @ChristopherEstep – AddictedWithOracle Jan 24 '17 at 20:08
5

Until the candidate gives you a reason to believe otherwise, I would enter the interview assuming that your age is a non-issue to the candidate. Not everyone is interested in becoming a lead/manager and are happy staying in just the developer role.

Make it clear this position will be reporting to you and what that will entail. You can provide the candidate with your own experience so they can ask you any additional questions. No reason to make your age a topic, only experience.

Personally, I would shy away from asking how they feel working for someone younger but you can ask how they feel working for someone less experienced. HR may frown upon you asking questions that imply that you have concerns about them being older even if it is unlikely to cause a legal issue.

5

I am in my sixties. I have worked for people both older and younger than me and age is never an issue. Competence is. The best boss of my career was half my age. My current boss is more than 20 years younger. After you are in your forties, this starts to happen naturally.

Simply assume that once he has met you in an interview that he will know you are younger and if it is a personal problem for him, then likely he would not accept the job. Do not let his age or experience intimidate you. If you have moved up that quickly, you obviously have something that your company likes. Many devs don't want to be managers and, of course, their managers are going to be younger after they reach a certain age. It is normal and expected.

Sometimes a person gets moved through a corporate change to work for you or competed for the same job and didn't get selected. Those are the people more likely to resent your age. The key is to not let something like this fester. If you find that there is an attempt to undermine you or insubordination, address it immediately and let them know that the behavior will not be tolerated. If they continue, get rid of them (moving to another team can be the solution not necessarily firing) because nobody long term needs a snake on their team.

I remember once, my very young boss took over some long term employees (all older and more experienced) who didn't want to work for him. We got about ten minutes into our first meeting and he took the most negative person out of the room and when he came back to the meeting, the guy had been moved to another team because he was not willing to behave as a professional. That's what I mean about not letting it fester. Stop it in its tracks the first time someone acts resentful. Make sure you clearly express, in private, why the behavior is unacceptable and what acceptable behavior would be and then act again if the person is unwilling to behave appropriately after being counseled.

0

If he gives you any sense that he's going to feel disrespected, then he's not a good fit. You need a thick skin to be in IT. If he's not up to dealing with you, he's not up for the job.

That said, don't go in with the assumption that it will be awkward for him. You don't want to project your concerns onto him and see things that aren't there.

You're the manager, you've earned the position. Go in with that understanding and you will command respect. If you command respect, you don't have to demand respect.

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