I can’t work for my old boss again — and the job I’m in the running for might be hiring him

A reader writes:

I’d like to ask you about this situation I find myself in. The funny thing is, it may not exist. It’s all based on presumptions, but here goes.

I am currently in the running for a specialist position at a company I would LOVE to work for. Ten-minute commute, amazing culture, lots of growth opportunities. I got some really great feedback from the internal recruiter on the interview I had with three people in upper management and she said I’m their top candidate. The only problem is that they’re restructuring the team and hiring for a manager as well a director. They really want to fill those leadership roles before extending an offer for the specialist position. Understandable. I was a bit concerned at not having a chance to meet my potential manager before accepting a job there anyway. She hopes to have this wrapped up by the end of the month and asked if I can be patient and to please keep them updated on the status of my job search.

Here’s where things get a little weird.

I work with this guy, let’s call him Bob. He used to be my supervisor, but he was very ineffective and caused a lot of strife due to being incompetent, was slow to learn our processes and things like computer programs, and did little more than act as a babysitter on behalf of our micromanaging director. Due to these issues, Bob was demoted to an assistant position so it’s no secret that he’s been interviewing around for a new job. He never changed his LinkedIn profile and it still says he’s a supervisor (as well as other gross exaggerations of his abilities and accomplishments) and I am assuming he is job searching under the guise of him still having such a title.

I have reason to believe that Bob is interviewing for the manager position at the company I am very likely to be offered a job at. This would completely ruin everything. There is no way I can work for Bob again!

I don’t have any concrete proof that he even applied, let alone is in the running, but a few things I noticed made me suspicious:

1. After my interview, the internal recruiter asked to connect on LinkedIn. I later noticed that Bob is also connected to her.
2. My current job is in a large metropolitan city, but Bob and I both commute 1.5-2 hours from a small suburban area in a neighboring state. The company I am interviewing for is one of only a few corporations in our industry with a base in our area. For commuting reasons, this would be great for both of us.
3. On Tuesday the internal recruiter told me they would be interviewing for the manager position “later this week” and Bob conveniently was out on a rare personal day on Thursday.
4. This company requires both a phone screen, as well as a video cover letter upload, before being asked to interview in person. If my intuition is correct about Bob’s personal day being for an interview, then he somehow made it through the first two rounds and would be in the running. I can’t imagine a scenario where he actually passed these rounds, but stranger things have happened.
5. It’s pretty well known that he is job hunting. I certainly would be as well if I had been demoted. But he routinely works on his resume openly while at work and quickly runs away to take calls on his cell phone. Given that his background (on paper) meets their requirements and their location meets his, I think it would be a safe bet that he at least applied.

Again, this is all conjecture and based on presumptions. I just can’t help but feel like there’s a chance they might hire this guy.

I will be so upset if I lose this opportunity because they hired Bob as a manager — and under false pretenses, no less! Is there anything at all that I can do?? How can I warn them that he’s not as qualified as he says he is when I’m not even sure he’s applied? Or how can I tell them I would have to turn down an offer from them if it meant working for a guy that they may never have even heard of?

I know I’m starting to sound crazy, but is there any advice you can offer? I’m sure there are lots of industries that are small enough where things like this happen all the time, but this is a first for me.

I’m not convinced there’s real cause to think that Bob is one of their candidates, but let’s assume for the sake of giving you advice that he is.

Probably all you can do here is to ask who they hired for the management job once they’ve made that hire, and turn down the job if it turns out to be Bob.

I suppose that theoretically you could say something now like, “Can I ask if one of the candidates you’re considering for the management role is Bob Burtlebot?” And if they say yes and you explain that you wouldn’t work under him again, that might nudge them into scrutinizing him more closely, to the point that they sour on him. But it’s also possible that they’ll prioritize their top choice for a senior-level hire over the preferences of the more junior person (you) and just take you out of the running.

Of course, if that happens, it sounds like you’d be okay with that, since you don’t want to work for Bob anyway.

But if they’re not considering Bob, it’s going to be an odd question to ask, and you’re going to be left having to explain why you asked and that’s likely to be weird.

Either way, though, I wouldn’t get into denigrating Bob’s qualifications or explaining that he’s misrepresenting himself, since you don’t really know that for sure and there’s something unseemly about trash-talking another job candidate (even one who’s applying for a different role than you are), especially without being solicited to share your assessment.

Ultimately, they may hire Bob, who knows. But keep in mind that they also could hire Bob after you’ve already started working there — and at least in this scenario, you’ll have advance warning and a choice of whether to sign on for that, and that’s something to be grateful for.

{ 166 comments… read them below }

  1. Mabel*

    Since they have said that they want to hire the manager and director before they hire for the specialist position you applied for, it seems like once they’ve done that, if they offer you the job, you can ask them who they hired. It also seems reasonable to ask to meet with the person who would be your manager before you accept the position. It might also possible that the new manager may want to do their own search for the new specialist. I hope that whatever happens, you get a job you want with a great manager!

      1. designbot*

        Exactly–her ideal outcome is for her to get hired under some manager who is not Bob. Waiting for Bob to be hired and then speaking up costs her the opportunity since she’s firm that she won’t work for him again.

        1. OP Here*

          Precisely, designbot. This is an opportunity that provides a unique set of circumstances that are very unlikely to come up again any time soon. I worked so hard at preparing for all the steps to ensure I’d be the top candidate and it worked. It would be so unfortunate to have to turn it down because of this guy. Who, by the way, I have zero personal issues with. But I just cannot be subjected to working for him again.
          And I do realize that this is a very tricky subject. I feel like I KNOW there’s nothing I can do that won’t make me look wacko and hurt my chances of an offer. But I had to ask!

          1. MegaMoose, Esq*

            I hate that feeling when you’re pretty sure you know the answer to something, but you don’t want to believe yourself. This is a rough hypothetical – hopefully it won’t come to pass!

          2. Kathleen Adams*

            Years ago, my boss announced his retirement, and the organization started interviewing people to fill the position. One of those interviewed was an internal candidate, a coworker who…well, he would have been awful, just awful. He’s not a horrible person or anything, but he is, I swear, some sort of alien pod-person with no idea how to manage people, no understanding of people, and, really, no understanding of how little he understands people. I am not 100 percent certain he’s even a carbon-based lifeform.

            Anyway, he did interview for the job, and I kept telling myself, “Oh there’s no way they’d promote Mycroft. Right? I mean, they can’t possibly think he’s a suitable candidate, can they? Can they? *Can* they?” I fretted and fretted about this, and then I fretted some more. I knew saying something probably wasn’t a good idea. But finally I just couldn’t help myself, and so when I found myself alone on the elevator with the organization’s vice president (who was on the search committee), I did indeed indicate that having Mycroft promoted to my supervisor would be…a *concern* for me. And the VP, bless his heard, said firmly and unequivocally, “He isn’t not going to be promoted.” And he wasn’t.

            So it worked out for me, but the difference is that I already worked here – I wasn’t someone interviewing for a job. So much as I understand your problem – I mean, I really, really do – I don’t think telling them about your concerns is a good idea. But I can definitely understand why you’re tempted!

            1. k*

              I just went through/am still going through pretty much the exact same thing. Manager is leaving, coworker applied for position. Coworker, while not a terrible person, has had conflicts with everyone on our staff, plus she has zero management experience and doesn’t really seem like she understands people or has any self awareness when it comes to her social skills.

              I figured out she was applying and I’ve spent the last three months or so worrying about her getting the job. I was so, so, so tempted to say something to my boss or my boss’s boss (head of the search committee)…but I didn’t. I forced myself to be patient and have faith that my boss’s boss and the rest of the search committee were seeing what I was seeing.

              It’s worked out so far – she’s out of the running for now. We’re interviewing finalists. There’s a possibility that they’ll come back to her, but I don’t think it’s likely. I’m really, really glad I didn’t say anything – I think it only would’ve hurt boss’s boss’s view of me.

              So while I completely, 1000000000% understand why the OP is tempted…in this situation, I think it’s better to just try to have faith that they’ll see the problems there. OP, I hope it all works out!

            2. Sally D*

              On he opposite end of the spectrum, we had a supervisor opening at our position where a coworker “Stephen” applied. Stephen is about as anti-people as you can get. He’s unpredictable, rough, rude, and has been known to yell and scream at others when stressed. I thought “No way they’d promote Stephen. It just won’t happen. I mean, there are 37 obvious reasons why it would be a horrific choice” so I didn’t say anything.

              Turns out they interviewed a ton of candidates. They tried to hire two, and those two declined the offers. They decided to promote Stephen.

              It’s working out as badly as I thought it would.

              1. Kathleen Adams*

                Congratulations, k! But, oh, I am so sorry, Sally. And how ridiculous. If you do one round of interviews and don’t find the right person, your approach should not be, “Ah, what the heck – we’re tired of this whole interviewing schtick. Let’s give ourselves a break and give the job to someone who’s completely unsuited to the job just because he’s handy and panting for a promotion. What’s the worst that could happen?”


          3. Jerry Vandesic*

            One way to handle this would be to bring up his name say “he was my manager until last year when he was demoted.” If he is lying about his current position this info might influence a hiring decision more than stating your unwillingness to work for him.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              How can you slip that in without looking like a whackadoodle, though?

              1. Jerry Vandesic*

                Probably need to be creative. The OP might want to simply ask if he is in the running for the manager position. Or they could ask if there is another position at the level they are interviewing, as the OP knows someone who might be a fit (a bit risky). Or maybe suggest them for another position unrelated to the one they are interviewing for (less risky).

              2. Tsalmoth*

                Maybe, “he was my manager before the reorg?” Not as specific, but implies the positions have changed (and if they ask a specific follow-up question about Bob’s job, well, then you’re just being polite by answering).

          4. INFJ*

            Is there any possibility you’d be able to work under him for a short amount of time? If he’s that incompetent, but somehow manages to get hired as a manager, he may not last that long. I know this is a lot of big IFs, but imagine how you’d feel if you turned down the job because they hired him, and then he got fired 6 months later.

            Ultimately, only you can be the judge of which would be worse for you.

            1. Lowercase holly*

              And if this place is really amazing, it seems they would notice he isn’t the best worker pretty quickly and get rid of him. I’d probably chance it.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I kind of thought if they’re really that good, they’d find out he was demoted during their reference/employment validation check, and that would be that. Especially if he is still claiming he’s a supervisor when he’s not.

          5. Jesmlet*

            I think there’s no harm in asking about him and then casually mentioning his current job title, and if he did in fact misrepresent himself, that should be enough to get them to either reject him, or ask for more details. Of course it’s going to sound pretty weird if he was never an applicant but you can just say something like, “oh he’s a [job title] at my current job and had mentioned he was looking into the ___ position and I was curious blah blah blah…” That bit of weirdness would probably not affect your candidacy at all if you play it off really casual.

          6. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            OP – see my reply below – commenting on another candidate – even for a different position – may end up getting you the big DQ – especially if he makes a grand impression.

            If you truly feel you can’t work for this guy and aren’t willing to try – in a different environment – then so be it.

          7. jb*

            If he’s that bad, and they do hire him, he may be exposed and demoted again/fired before too long, leaving you with nothing to worry about.

          8. MW*

            If you have no personal issues with Bob then, call me crazy, why don’t you just ask him if he’s interviewing for the position? If he says no, you’ve acquired peace of mind without jeopardizing your application. If he says yes, you know, and have scope to avoid taking the job. Even if it were damaging to your relationship with Bob, it doesn’t sound like this is a relationship you want to preserve.

        2. Rewind*

          Even if the OP’s put everything together correctly the short term goal of “don’t hire Bob” may outweigh the long term costs. If OP says something it could well sink their own candidacy for this position *and future openings at this company they really want to work at.* OP is looking at this as a zero sum game. It’s just as possible neither OP nor Bob gets hired, so why push the company in that direction? I can’t see many functional workplaces hearing this story and not dismissing both candidates from consideration.

          1. Kyrielle*


            Also, OP? If Bob gets hired and they offer you the role, and you decline politely, what do you think is the most likely scenario a year from now?

            My bet is on Bob having shown lots of who he is, being gone or on his way out the door (or maybe down the ladder, but out the door is more likely), and…the next opening after he leaves, you apply, they are likely to still have that positive impression of you.

            That’s IF he managed to interview well enough in person to get the job offer in the first place. Unless he’s upped his game as a manager, either he won’t stay too long, or this isn’t a place you’d want to work if you were inside it anyway (if he’s still that bad at it and they hire and *keep* him, well…).

            1. INFJ*

              Yup. That’s part of what I was getting at with my comment above.

              OP does need to think about the long game and not burn any bridges by asking/saying anything negative about Bob. It’s on the company to do their due diligence in vetting candidates.

    1. Winger*

      Seriously, why would they not hire a manager, and then have the manager hire the specialist? Why hire a specialist when you’re literally in the middle of a simultaneous process to hire that person’s boss? I took a job a few years ago where my predecessor’s last task before she left was hiring a new assistant, who then reported to me. She was a lovely person but super, super unqualified for the job and her presence on my team was a drag on our performance the entire time I worked there (several years.) If they had just gotten a temp and waited for me to hire the assistant, it would have forestalled so many problems.

      1. jamlady*

        I keep getting calls from my old awful company about coming to work for old awful coworker (who has been promoted to manager at a different location), and I keep telling them that there are many reasons I’m not interested, but the biggest red flag is that Fergus hated me and I know they’re not getting his input about hiring (because he would definitely not want me there). And that’s just not cool (no matter how sexist, arrogant, and lazy he may be).

  2. designbot*

    OP, I know what you mean about not having direct evidence but the pieces just fit together in a way that feels like it adds up. I would probably speak up if it were me, and say something like, “Can I ask if one of the candidates for the management roll is Bob Burblebot? I know you probably don’t share these things normally, but I work with him at Teapots Unlimited and have gotten the impression he might be looking here as well. If he were the manager for this role it would impact my level of interest in the position.”
    That way they don’t actually have to confirm or deny Bob’s candidacy (which would likely be a privacy/moral issue for them), and they know where you stand without you having to go into detail or speak badly of him. His hiring would impact whether you were interested, which is all the information that would be truly useful to them.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Don’t feel bad. About a year ago on the local news here, they were doing some sort of human interest/career story, complete with a graphic that said, “Women in Leadership Rolls.” On TV, where hundreds of thousands of people saw it. I had to pause it and take a picture.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Hahaha I wrote a whole blog post on homophones and the like because I’m seeing so many of these errors in so-called professional writing and it’s driving me crazy. Not so much in comments or other casual settings, because I’ve made similar autocorrect errors on my phone myself. Roll vs. role was one of them.

    1. Cobol*

      I like this. Everything you say makes me think your gut is right, and it would be reasonable to use this language (in my mind at least. I’m no HR person)

    2. MuseumChick*

      I think your onto something here. I really like the first two sentences in your script. Not sure if I would add the last sentence or not.

      Once, I was giving a presentation with someone I had only spoken to online. He and I meet up to go over everything, about half way through he kind of paused and said, “So…..you know Fergus McGee?” (he had seen I was facebook friends with Fergus). Now, I do not have a very high opinion of Fergus, but Fergus knows a lot of people in the field so I responded very cautiously. A few carefully worded phrases later we were both venting to each other about what an asshat Fergus is!

      The correct careful tone and body language can convey a lot.

      1. Gene*

        But without the last sentence, the first two don’t make sense. And I would add “negatively” to the third sentence so your meaning isn’t vagued out of existence. (yes, I know that isn’t a word, but it should be.)

        1. MuseumChick*

          I think, depending on the context of the conversation, the first two sentence would not sound strange on their own. The OP just wants to be very careful her and not have what she says negatively effect her candidacy.

      2. Stanger than fiction*

        And then if the HR person or recruiter asked why, would it really be that terrible to say something like “well, he wasn’t very well-liked when he had been a manager, and I believe there’s some false information on his LinkedIn, but I’ll leave it to your expertise to vet that, as I don’t want to come off like I’m completely badmouthing my coworker.”

        1. Roscoe*

          Yes, absolutely. Its basically the logic of why you don’t badmouth a former manager to a possible new employer. They only have one side of the story here, and honestly it would come off more like gossip, because your aren’t providing facts, just your opinion that it would seem you are putting on others. And the Linkedin info, would make it seem like you are keeping too strong a tabs on them.

          I am connected with a bunch of co-workers on LinkedIN, but I don’t scour their profiles to make sure what they are saying is accurate. And it would be weird if I found out they were doing that to me.

          1. designbot*

            you know what, this discussion made me wonder if there’s a way to report him on LinkedIn, and it turns out there IS!
            OP if you’re still around to read this, LinkedIn has a process for reporting inaccurate profile information: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/30200?lang=en. I know this is getting into this pretty deep, but if you reported him and his LinkedIn profile got updated, your mutual contact hiring manager would be likely to see it and ask what was up. I would try to contact someone there though and ask if you will be kept anonymous through that process, because if not I would not proceed. Even if it is, there’s a question of how much you want to invest in taking Bob down.
            Or even if not for this OP, good to know there’s a process around this just in case.

            1. OP Here*

              That’s definitely way deeper than I want to go. I don’t want to take him down at all. I wish him the best and hope his job search finds him something more suitable. I just would like to not have to work with him again, and especially to not report to him knowing his deficiencies.

        2. MK*

          Eh, saying that you don’t want to badmouth someone you have just bad-mouthed is not a good look.

        3. designbot*

          I’d stick to the facts–he used to be my manager at Teapots Unlimited but it was decided he was more suited to a less managerial role.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I like this because it doesn’t necessarily scream “Bob is incompetent!” It can also imply that Bob is really better in a supportive role–not everyone wants to be a manager or is good at managing. It doesn’t have to mean they suck.

    3. S-Mart*

      I don’t have off the top of my head a compelling tweak to the wording, but your script doesn’t tell me whether you’d be more or less likely to be interested in the position if the manager is Bob. On its own (i.e. devoid of the context we have from OP’s letter), it might read to me as if hiring Bob + OP would be *good* for the company / both of their interests in the role.

      1. Mephyle*

        And that could be good – you could gauge their reaction to the question and use it to guide you as to whether to reveal more.

      2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Eh, I think the continued existence of an application indicates a high interest… I don’t know that a reasonable person would read that and assume that OP is *more* interested in the role if this one random Bob is hired.

        (not to mention that, if OP really did just super want to work under Bob again, they could presumably just talk to Bob directly about whether he’s applying. The very fact that OP would be asking the company instead of Bob betrays a negative relationship)

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          Agreed. How much bad blood is there between the OP and Bob? Is it possible to ask him directly? I know I’ve worked for managers I hated working for, who didn’t realize there was a problem.

        2. S-Mart*

          I know that there are managers from my past (and current) where I would in fact be more interested in an already-interesting proposed role if I were to find out they would be my manager there. I took a pay cut to come to my current job precisely because of who my manager would be (I likely would have taken this job without said manager, but not likely at the same price point). There are also managers where I’d be having the same concern as OP.

          How I interpret a vague ‘it would affect my interest’ would be totally dependent on my mood at the time. I do think negative is more likely than not, but I can see myself interpreting it as a positive depending on the day.

    4. esra*

      I would actually react negatively to the second line of that script. Fairly or not, I’d be thinking “ugh, drama” in my head.

      1. OhNo*

        Same here, honestly. Even in the most innocuous language I can think of, from the hiring side I’d still be thinking “drama! avoidavoidavoid!” when it came to OP.

        I think, at best, what the OP can do is ask to be notified of final contenders. Even that would have to be phrased rather delicately, or you’d risk looking overconfident in your chances of getting hired.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Agreed. I honestly cannot think of a circumstance in which an applicant could raise this without looking petty or drama-making (even though OP’s concerns may be 100% valid!).

        From a game theory perspective, I don’t think it pays off. The possibility of harm to OP’s candidacy if she says something and they weren’t even interviewing Bob is going to be greater than the harm of saying nothing and later finding out they never planned to hire him. But as someone said upthread, the other major negative is that it could make OP less attractive to DreamCompany if she applies, again, later down the road.

  3. Roscoe*

    Yeah, you sound like you are looking for reasons to assume its Bob when you have no actual proof.

    But as Alison said, why not just wait until they hire the person? If its Bob, just make up a reason to turn down the offer. But offering to give a “heads up” about the guy is kind of shady honestly. Just because you didn’t have a good experience with him doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be good for their organization. I’ve worked for some managers I didn’t have a great relationship, but I’d hate to hear they were proactively trying to sabatoge another job.

    1. Mephyle*

      Why not just wait until they hire the person?
      As discussed above, there is a reason why. If it turns out they hired Bob to manage OP, then OP loses the chance to get this job. It might be fine for the organization, as you point out, but that doesn’t help OP, whose opportunities are scarce to non-existent for reducing the commute from 1.5–2 hours to 10 minutes while staying in the same industry.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        If OP asks about Bob and indicates she wouldn’t work under him, there is a good chance she’s lost the job anyway, even if they have never heard of Bob.

        Her choices are to wait and see and possibly lose the job, or do something proactive and probably lose the job.

        1. Sans*

          I agree. Unfortunately, no matter how well you phrase it, a company would likely not consider you anymore if you proactively mentioned Bob.

          1. OP Here*

            I agree as well. Unfortunately I think I am stuck in one of those situations that must be left completely to chance and all I can do is hope it goes my way!

            1. Shiara*

              It may help to rephrase this mentally. Assuming Bob is even interviewing with newcompany in the first place, Bob’s hiring isn’t actually up to chance. It’s up to newcompany doing their due diligence, and making their own assessments of Bob.

              If Bob is the type of person newcompany is willing to hire, that isn’t chance. That’s useful information to you that maybe their culture isn’t as wonderful of a fit for you as you thought. (Obviously bad hires are a thing that happens at even the most wonderful of places, but still. It wouldn’t just be chance.)

            2. Jeanne*

              I think too that you are stuck. I’m sorry. I have to wonder how well Bob interviews. Also, Linkedin is one thing but I wonder if his resume tells the truth. If they do hire him and if you do suspect he lied on his resume, there might be a way to say that later. It could be part of your response to the offer. You could work his demotion into the conversation then. In the meantime, hopefully they have other candidates who are better.

    2. Elemeno P.*

      I think it’s fine to mention the reason for turning down the offer if they do hire Bob (in a professional way, of course)- no reason to hide it then. Saying it beforehand would just be a little weird.

  4. Agreed with Mabel*

    “Since they have said that they want to hire the manager and director before they hire for the specialist position you applied for, it seems like once they’ve done that, if they offer you the job, you can ask them who they hired.”

    Adding on to that – what about mentioning (if they did hire Bob as your manager and offer the specialist position to you) that you have serious hesitations about working under him again due to the problems with his work that lead to his demotion? You mentioned that he hadn’t changed his Linkedin to reflect the demotion – perhaps his resume omits this as well? If they are unaware of this important detail they’d almost certainly be horrified, probably enough to rescind his offer. What do others think about this?

    1. Roscoe*

      I don’t think its the OPs business to bring that up proactively. I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to figure out that they are both at the same place. But to me, it would seem very much like sour grapes if someone, unpromted, decided to bring up a demotion and call people a liar

      1. Agreed with Mabel*

        My point is that if he is hired as her boss, they could and likely would fire him/rescind the offer based on the new knowledge that he falsified his credentials, which is verifiable fact not sour grapes (assuming he did falsify his credentials). I agree with the consensus that there’s not much the OP can do to prevent him from being hired in the first place.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          Yeah, but you’d need to know (or get lucky guessing) that he falsified his resume – I don’t think anyone’s likely to fire someone for not updating LinkedIn. I don’t think it’s that unusual for people not to update frequently, although it might be less common if you’re actively job searching. Either way, I just don’t think it is or should be treated the same as an inaccurate resume.

          1. Roscoe*

            That’s exactly it. Your Linkedin profile is NOT the same as your resume. So right now, the OP has no actual proof of falsifying documents, only “embellishing” on social media. That isn’t something that would look good bringing up unsolicited.

          2. myswtghst*

            This is a really great point. My LinkedIn is current and my job titles are accurate, but there’s definitely different content on there than is / would be on my resume, and I know tons of people whose LinkedIn profiles are outdated / incorrect / a mess / never updated / all of the above. If OP did bring this up, and it turned out Bob’s resume was accurate, it could definitely be a mark against the OP.

            1. OP Here*

              I agree as well. And while I do have reason to believe that his LinkedIn profile has been updated recently and he clearly chose to not update his title along with it, this is not his resume and I have zero proof that the resume he sends out is not accurate. I know in my heart there is nothing I can do that would not have negative personal ramifications. But the irrational side of my brain wishes there was!

              1. Agreed with Mabel*

                While I take your points about Linkedin not being the same as a resume… you all really think this new company would consider hiring someone for a management position who was demoted from a management position in his current company? What could possibly be his explanation for this decision that didn’t raise red flags about his performance? I think it’s a pretty safe bet that he’s lying on his resume as well.

                1. myswtghst*

                  It’s not inconceivable. Some people are great interviewers and/or talented bullsh*tters. Someone could frame it as a reorg where they “took one for the team” or a “great opportunity to take on a new project that wasn’t compatible with managing people at the same time” or some other such thing, and if references aren’t checked, or are just a confirmation of title / dates of employment, could be accepted at their word.

                  (Not that any of that is happening / is going to happen with Bob, mind you, this is just me hypothesizing)

                2. MegaMoose, Esq*

                  The demotion would almost certainly be a black mark, but I have no idea if it would be disqualifying such that it is safe to assume he falsified his resume to get the interviews. That could depend on the rest of his resume, the particular job market, local politics, who his sister is married to, etc.

                3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

                  And if Bob has a long history of management experience – a demotion may be “one of those things”.

                  That a new employer might not care about.

    2. Mabel*

      I wanted to note a point here that Alison mentions above (and that I missed): “I think it’s that the OP wants to discourage them from hiring him before it happens.”

    3. Liane*

      The things you are suggesting OP say, are the kinds of things that are fine for a supervisor to say if called for a reference. They shouldn’t come from another job candidate or one of Bob’s current coworkers (unless he used them for a reference).

  5. fishy*

    If he did actually misrepresent his role or title in his application (which, who knows), they are likely to find out, right? In which case you might not have to worry about this at all…

    1. OP Here*

      I sure am hoping that’s the case. Of course, it would be best if my intuition is completely wrong and this was never an issue in the first place. However, Bob could also be reading this post and thinking “hmmmm… is there any way this is about me?” Most would think Bob must be nuts for assuming a random blog post is about them, but his intuition would be right!

      1. myswtghst*

        One thing you could do would be to reflect on your experiences with their hiring practices. Were they thorough? Did they ask good questions in the interview? Did they ask for / actually contact references? If they were thorough, that might be reassurance that they’re more likely to spot his “strategic omissions” about his demotion and any other misrepresentation which would count him out as a good candidate (if he actually is in the running there at all).

        I tend to agree with the commenters who’ve mentioned that proactively trying to torpedo Bob’s chances for a job he may not even be in the running for would be hard to do without harming the company’s opinion of you. Hopefully their hiring process was a good one, and that can help put your mind at least a little more at ease.

        1. OP Here*

          Thanks myswtghst, you’re right. They did seem very thorough and asked great, relevant, thought-provoking questions. I would honestly be shocked if Bob managed to move forward in such a process. But if he were in fact hired, aside from not being able to work under him, it would also put a big dent in my opinion of them and their standards.

          1. PollyQ*

            So maybe that’s your answer: if they do hire Bob, then they’re not such a great place to work and it’s not so much of a loss for you.

            1. KWu*

              Yup, I agree with this–I also hate long commutes and it’s a shame that you’d have to miss out on that benefit if the worst case scenario comes to pass here. I’m sorry about that :(

          2. Jeanne*

            There are always some who get interviews and then are shuffled put of the interview process. Maybe Bob is one of those.

  6. Alex "Barney" Barnaby*

    “The only problem is that they’re restructuring the team and hiring for a manager as well a director. They really want to fill those leadership roles before extending an offer for the specialist position.”

    So when you’re contacted about the role again, you can ask if they have wrapped up those processes, “Because I would like to meet with the manager and director before accepting a job offer”. Is there some reason to not do this?

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*


      Best way to handle it and if “Bob” is one of the two – you can decline any offer. Without comment.

      1. TootsNYC*

        They might have a suspicion, or something, but if you never say anything, and simply say, “Such a great opportunity; timing isn’t quite right for me right now. I’d love to be considered a few months down the line if something comes up.”

  7. hbc*

    “I know this is unusual, but I have a lot of circumstantial evidence that my coworker Bob Burblebot has applied for the manager position. I’m not asking you to confirm or deny or even take any particular action, but I would decline the position if he becomes the manager.”

    Hopefully, the use of “coworker” will give a hint if he’s still inflating his position, and maybe it’ll be enough to break a tie if he’s otherwise neck-and-neck with another candidate while still staying well clear of badmouthing him.

    1. Bonky*

      I’m not sure about this. I interview a lot of people, and one thing I’m filtering for is a lack of drama. If an interviewee came out with this, it wouldn’t be process-ending, but I’d be making a little mental drama flag against their name.

    2. PollyQ*

      Also, apologies to the OP if this is too blunt, but I’m not seeing “a lot of circumstantial evidence.” I’m sympathetic to the anxiety of having a seemingly great job opportunity spoiled by a crummy colleague following along like a stubborn fungus, the facts are that (1) employer is hiring (2) Bob is job-hunting and (3) Bob took a personal day. To me at least, that’s not evidence of anything much.

      1. OP Here*

        This may not sway you, but none of the points you mentioned actually made me suspicious. The only thing that triggered my suspicion is seeing that him and the internal recruiter are connected on LinkedIn. After telling me about the situation of needing to hire management and reassuring me that I’m their top candidate the recruiter requested to connect with me on LinkedIn. After accepting I browsed my “people you may know” and Bob turned up. I clicked his profile and it was only then that I saw we shared the recruiter in common, as well as noticed his exaggerated accomplishments. It was a bit of an “Oh my!” moment that perhaps they attempt to connect to all people they interview. That’s when the puzzle pieces started to come together.

        1. PollyQ*

          OK, that’s also a valid data point. I agree with other commenters that there’s really nothing you can do regardless, but I definitely sympathize with being stuck in a wait-and-see situation. Best of luck for everything working out for you.

    3. esra (also a Canadian)*

      I think the problem with this sentiment (no matter how it’s phrased) is that you’re basically issuing them an ultimatum before they’ve even offered you anything. It would be enough to turn me off an applicant entirely.

  8. AdAgencyChick*

    OP, I know this is frustrating, but it’s GOOD that they’re putting off your hiring while waiting to see who they pick for the top slot — because you’re then in the position of being able to say no if they hire Bob.

    It seems like what you’d like better than that is a chance to torpedo Bob’s candidacy. I don’t think you can do that. I do think you might be able to say to the hiring manager that you have reason to believe someone else from your company is interviewing for the manager slot, and could they please keep your candidacy confidential from this person if that is the case. Because if Bob *is* hired, then your resume is going to cross his desk (because they’ll probably want to give him a say in who will be reporting to him). And what you don’t want is for Bob to find out that you’ve applied and then say that to any friends he’s left behind at your current company!

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Having been burned before (I work in a niche industry in which EVERYBODY gossips), it is unfortunately the first place my mind went.

    1. Kyrielle*

      This might well be worth it. And the fact that you say ‘coworker’ instead of ‘manager’ may lead them to investigate if he has mislead them, but even if it doesn’t – yeah, you don’t want your resume on his desk if you can help it.

      1. Roscoe*

        Possibly. But there are people in management at my job who aren’t MY managers. So I would call them a co-worker, even though they are a manager.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yeah, this was my reaction as well. I use “coworker” or “colleague” to refer to everyone who isn’t in my chain of command but could be at an equal or higher level than I am.

  9. Blue_eyes*

    To take a different approach – could you ask Bob directly if he’s applied? Or at least get him talking about the applications he has out right now, and see if he mentions the company you’re interviewing at. Since he’s not hiding his job search at all, he may be willing to talk about it.

    1. OP Here*

      Definitely not an option. To be honest, I don’t know if he realizes how obvious his job search is.

  10. JM in England*

    I was in a similar position to the OP about a year ago, except in my case I already knew that my potential new manager was a former boss who I’d never work for again in a million years. Posted about this situation on an AAM Friday open thread and followed the advice on how to tell the recruiter that I would be withdrawing my application.

    1. Bonky*

      I’m aware of two people who have turned down jobs (not with my organisation, but at places where friends have worked) because they haven’t wanted to work with former managers. It didn’t reflect brilliantly on anybody. BUT:

      Coincidentally, one of the former managers ended up on another team at my current work; nobody has anything but great things to say about him, and he gets wonderful results; but I can see that for a very sensitive person his very direct and to-the-point management style might not be something they would enjoy. Knowing that manager’s work, I’d actually be leery about taking on someone who’d complained about his style – in a fast-paced environment somebody with extreme sensitivity can be very hard work to get the best out of.

      1. JM in England*

        A fair point, Bonky.

        However, several other coworkers (plus myself) at OldJob were bullied by this manager. This led one of these coworkers walking out one day, which was a shame because they had been with the company for over 30 years. Complaints were made and internal investigations performed, but in the end upper management swept the matter under the carpet.

      2. CrazyEngineerGirl*

        This is an excellent point about how proactive comments might be interpreted. From the interviewers side, telling them you wouldn’t take the job because you don’t want to work under Bob doesn’t necessarily indicate that he would be a terrible manager for them, just that you don’t like his style. If they think he’s a great fit from their interviewing and feel like they’ve done their due diligence on him as a candidate, they could end up just thinking you’re not a fit for their company. This could effect you for both this and future job openings there.

        If I were the interviewer or hiring manager I wouldn’t just take your word for it. I wouldn’t know you any better than I know Bob. It might give me doubts, but that would mostly likely make me drop you both as candidates.

        1. Lissa*

          This is a good point. If I have equal information about two people, and one tells me something bad about the other one, I won’t necessarily know whether Amy or Betty is the one “in the wrong”, or if it’s a situation of “neither is wrong but they don’t go well together” until I can gather more information about the situation. This is why I think this is so different from somebody who already works there telling their employer something about a prospective hire.

  11. msroboto*

    Take the job if he flames out spectacularly as he most likely will it will be a short-term inconvenience for you.
    MAYBE you can prove how freakishly awesome you are and be readying yourself to slide into that manager / supervisor role. If they hire the best damn teapot manager on the planet that job may never become available.

    1. WhirlwindMonk*

      That’s what I was thinking. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d absolutely trade a 1.5-2 hour commute for a 10 minute commute that has a small chance of being under a manager who has already proven himself incompetent enough to get himself removed from a supervisor role once before. That’s between 15 and 20 hours of your life you’ll be getting back EVERY DAY, OP. Seems to me like that’s worth this small risk.

      1. Lil Lamb*

        Oh, definitely. I have a similar commute and I can tell you the time I would be able to get back would be precious. By the time I get home every day I’m too tired to do much but eat and sleep.

    2. Anon Anon*

      I don’t think you can assume that he’d been demoted or fired even if he did flame out.

      A few years ago, my organization hired someone who had gotten fired from every job they had had (and they had never been in a job longer than about a year). No one wanted to hire this person, but our boss overruled everyone else in the department, and despite the fact that our Bob is completely incompetent he’s been kept (and promoted!) because our boss feels sorry for him.

      You never know about organizational politics, and so I don’t think you can assume someone will flame out and be fired. Bob might not flame out, and if he does he might be kept anyway.

      1. OP Here*

        Ain’t that the truth! Seeing as how, while Bob was finally demoted, it took two years for it to happen. Our entire department was at a complete loss as to how he was still here. And now he still has a job vs being canned.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        But if that happens here, it’s evidence that this is not a good company for OP or anyone else. Organizations that don’t deal with these issues often fester from within.

        1. OP Here*

          Precisely why I’m looking to move on from my current company. I don’t want to think this new company is the same way, but if I get any indication that they are I will steer clear.

    3. Adam V*

      That assumes that Bob, having been hired as the manager, would go along with hiring someone who knows how badly they did at their previous job.

      1. OP Here*

        This too. It’s basically him or me. I didn’t mean for that to come out as ominous, but it’s the truth. If they hire him and need his input on my being hired, I’m sure he’ll try to sway them away from me since I know the truth about him. But even if he has no say in my being offered the position, once I found out he as the manager I’d have to turn it down. Here’s to hoping I’ve worked myself into a frenzy over nothing.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      You know, I think I’m coming down on the side of taking the job even if it means working under Bob, mostly because of this line:

      did little more than act as a babysitter on behalf of our micromanaging director

      Under different leadership, it seems a good bet that Bob is going to have to shape up or be shipped out pretty quickly.

      1. Augusta Sugarbean*

        That’s what I was thinking about. OP, do you get the impression that this new job will have better and more effective management? If you think they wouldn’t take two years to fire Bob (assuming he hasn’t changed and performs badly again), that might mitigate the risk of taking this position.

        1. Anna*

          Yeah. There seems to be this assumption that how Bob was handled at Employer X will be the same he’ll be handled at Employer Y. While there’s no proof that wouldn’t be the case, I wouldn’t assume that it would be.

        2. OP Here*

          I would hope so. Seeing as how they’re replacing both the manager and the director, I would say yes. But, I’d be leery if they chose to hire him in the first place and would question their commitment to “cultural fit” which is something they tout as being very important.

          1. Jaguar*

            I had the same thought as Persephone: you know Bob and we don’t, but maybe he won’t be as bad (or bad at all) somewhere else?

            It would also be worth asking, if Bob is hired and then they make an offer to you, if it’s possible to work under someone else.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      The more I read these answers, the more I agree with this. And even if it is Bob, OP might move up or out of that department in time, especially if the job is as great as they think it might be.

      I still think that if the employer is really thorough and they’re that good, they won’t miss that Bob was demoted. And that could influence their decision away from him.

  12. shannanigans*

    I’m not sure if this is appropriate, since it dismisses part of the OP’s criteria but here goes:

    If they hire you and Bob, the situation may only be temporary. While it’s possible for a bad employee to fake it ’til they make it into a job, their lack of skills (whether technical or interpersonal) usually come to light pretty quickly. Conversely, you seem like a smart and proactive worker who would soon have built a good reputation. You could use the political capital you gain to gently point out Bob’s weaknesses – with statement like, “Yes, he had similar ongoing issues at previous company which were never resolved.”

    It’s not improbable to have a future where you’re happily employed at your ideal company under a new boss while Bob job hunts again.

    1. kb*

      I was thinking the same thing. Even if Bob somehow pulls through, he probably won’t last very long if he’s as incompetent as OP says he his. So even if it takes 6 months for Bob to be dismissed, OP can just sit there with a knowing smile, being awesome and well-rested (I’m making the assumption that some of those regained commute hours would be put towards sleep, because that’s what I would do).

  13. animaniactoo*

    So, in other words, you’re driving yourself nuts over a possible-but-not-probable scenario and really don’t want to miss out just in case of the possible since it would include not just outright falsehood but actual incompetence guaranteed to cause issues?

    OP, look at it this way – if they DO end up hiring Bob, the likelihood is that they’re not very good about doing their due diligence and that’s likely to be reflected in other areas of the company. Which means a larger drawback in working for them against all the benefits that you’re currently excited about.

    Years ago, there was someone in my company who had churned through, and was demoted without being demoted and had been looking for a minimum of 3 years before she ended up being fired. Part of the issue was her attitude, part of it was her (lacking) skills). As far as I know, she never managed to find another job in the industry. Because one thing about small industries… people tend to know or know of the other players. And they talk. And they know who to ask when they’re looking at somebody.

    Keep your head down and your fingers crossed. Breathe. It is far more likely to be okay than it is to not be okay.

    1. Cobol*

      It sounds like Bob looks really good on paper. If he interviews well even great due diligence might be hard to catch him.

    2. OP Here*

      Thanks amimaniactoo. I do think it’s far more likely to be okay than not okay as well. It’s just a nagging feeling that I’m fretting about and can’t seem to shake. The clues are there, but the biggest and most important piece of this puzzle is that he is not at all the right person for this job. And if I’m wrong and he is, then that means this isn’t the company I thought it was and I’m not the right person for the other job. I have such a good feeling about them otherwise that I don’t think that’s the case.

  14. kb*

    If Bob did omit his demotion on his resume, it’ll probably come out before he’s formally given an offer if prospective employer calls y’all’s current employer. Even if prospective employer doesn’t call your current employer for a recommendation, they’ll probably call to confirm his title and dates of employment. He may have made it this far under false circumstances because prospective employer is waiting to call current employer until they’re very serious as a courtesy to Bob. Hopefully if that’s the case it’ll work itself out.

    1. Product person*

      Yes. And, OP, one way to think about this that may make you feel better:

      If the hiring company makes the decision to hire Bob, would you trust their ability to select great candidates for positions you’d need to either report to or interact with down the line? Would you be really interested in going to work for a company that shows they’re not doing a good job selecting qualified candidates for a management job?

      I mean, based on what you described, it should be pretty clear to any hiring company doing proper due diligence that Bob is not a top candidate. If they make the decision to hire him, this should give you additional data points about their decision making process, and reduce the sting of having to decline an offer if one is extended to you.

      Good luck, I hope they hire a great manager and you get to join a team you’ll enjoy working with.

  15. 30+ years in the biz*

    This situation happened to me . The hiring director noticed the gal they were considering for manager in my department (I was also applying for the position) and I had worked together at my previous company 5 years before. This gal had mostly asked others to help her do her work; she was also good at delegating. They asked me for an evaluation of her work style. I said that I could only confirm that I had worked with her and I felt uncomfortable discussing her work quality. I think they got the idea. When she came in for an interview one of the mangers mentioned later that she was underwhelmed with this gal’s knowledge and problem- solving ability; she evidently failed some “what would you do if..” scenarios. I dropped out of the hiring process when I found out my boss would be on the other side of the country with limited communication/mentoring. They later hired a guy with a fake “life experience” degree from Almeda University (this went undetected). Not the best choice for a company that makes medical devices.

      1. Audiophile*

        Video cover letters must be all the rage over the last few years. I’ve seen them pop up more and more, and not at places you would expect like Buzzfeed. I don’t get it myself and won’t apply to roles that ask for them.

    1. INFJ*

      That perked my ears, too, but OP didn’t seem to bat an eyelash at it. Maybe common to the field?

  16. VivaL*

    OP – I agree it would come across badly to ask the company directly about him, but given that they said they wanted to hire the senior position first, it puts you in a good position – at least you know ahead of time.

    If they do NOT end up hiring the senior level position first for some reason, I think you can say something like “May I ask where in the process you are regarding the senior level position? It’s important to me to have a good working relationship with my manager, and it would really help if *we* met prior to making a decision (this makes it about both of you instead of just you). I realize this may not be possible, but if there’s some way to make that happen (perhaps even via phone), that does not impact your timeline too much, I would really appreciate it.”

    That said, if they do hire him, you can turn down the offer, but tell them how much you’d love to work for their company, ask for them to keep you in mind for future opportunities on a different team. If they ask why, then you can say something general like “It’s really important to me to have a good working relationship with my manager. I’ve worked with Bob in the past, he and I have different styles and approaches to this kind of work, and I dont think it would be a good match for your organization. Please do keep me in mind if any opportunities open on a different team.”

    Please send an update, and I really hope you DO get it and that Bob ISNT applying for it!

  17. myswtghst*

    So this might be not a thing at all, but I’m hoping someone more involved in hiring/HR would know… Since the OP mentioned that the recruiter connected with both them AND Bob on LinkedIn, I wonder if the recruiter would ask the OP for feedback if they were considering Bob, since they obviously work for the same company. I know when I have been involved in hiring before, I’ve reached out to my connections (usually same team/dept rather than company) to discreetly gather feedback. If the OP is the top candidate, I could see myself as a recruiter calling OP to get their thoughts, since they currently work with Bob and know about the manager role, so they could potentially speak to his fit.

    Again, not sure if this is a long shot / completely out of step with normal hiring conventions, but was curious.

    1. Lynn Whitehat*

      I don’t think they would do that. You wouldn’t want recruiters running their mouth to other candidates from your company about what jobs you’re applying to, would you?

  18. Old Admin*

    Two thoughts crossed my mind:

    1. I would like to quote an AAM classic – if you don’t KNOW what the future will bring (better job, higher pay, will other candidates win?), you have to proceed with your application as if everything were OK.
    Because it is impossible to double guess chance and people. Anything can and will happen – including that you maybe are too worried about this, and a bit paranoid after all the stress with Bob. (I’ve been in that place.)
    Just keep going, don’t destroy your chances with what will come off as nasty gossip!

    2. However, Bob’s misrepresentation on LinkedIn is something that should concern your *current* company. Maybe you could indicate to HR or a higher manager that Bob needs to update his online profile. And *that* would tip the new company off that not all is well with Bob’s veracity…. just saying.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Unless Bob is working as a recruiter and actively using LinkedIn as a part of his job, I don’t think his employer really has any say in what his profile says.

  19. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

    IF they are interviewing Bob, they would notice that you two seem to have a company connection. Life others, I wouldn’t be surprised if they ask you directly about that if he’s seriously in consideration. When I applied for my current position, another woman who I had worked with for about 3 months within the last year, was also applying for the same position. The hiring manager asked me about her. In my situation I gave her a positive review because she deserved one and let them know that her short stay was because my former employer liked to fire junior designers just before their 90-day probation period was up so he didn’t have to offer any benefits. Then he’d just hire another desperate designer and repeat.

    If you’re asked OP, I would go with something mostly neutral but factual — Bob was in your department but then he was transferred to an assistant position and you no longer work with him; since you weren’t his supervisor you can’t really say how well he met his goals or performed his job. But really, if he’s in the running and the new company does any sort of check, they should be told what his current position/title is and it’ll look terrible if he’s misrepresented himself. I wouldn’t preemptively tell them.

  20. Lynn Whitehat*

    Is there any way you can get a friend to apply, then mention the situation with Bob? It sounds like that would work out for the best, if the company could be alerted to the problems with Bob by someone who doesn’t care if they damage their own candidacy.

  21. I'm not a lawyer, but ...*

    I’m not sure OP is being fair to Bob. He is described as a babysitter for a micromanager, and having been there I know he didn’t have many options to manage well. There aren’t too many people I’d turn down a marvelous opportunity over. The only 3 from the last 45 years I can think of are the racist, the rapist, and the misogynist.

    1. Troutwaxer*

      We don’t know the OP’s history with Bob, but I’ve been asking myself the same question since reading the phrase “…acted as a babysitter on behalf of our micromanaging director.” Obviously Bob is not a great guy, but might he be easier to work with without the “micromanaging director?”

  22. Electric Hedgehog*

    I haven’t read all the comments, so this may have been suggested but if you haven’t already provided references, could you offer Bob as one, phrased “Bob (former manager 20XX-2016) 555-555-5555′?

  23. Not My Monkeys, Not My Circus*

    OP, do you know anyone you could refer for the manager position? You could then forward the information directly to the recruiter since there is already a relationship there. I won’t eliminate Bob, but it could at least put in a strong candidate for him to go up against.

  24. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Encountered that, and seen it – and over a 45 year career, it’s not uncommon.

    Oddly enough – two of the people I had worked with in the past – and had conflicts with – well, we wound up working together in new roles, and got along fine.

    This is one of the things you’re going to see if you have a long career,, and you have to learn to handle it.

    That being said – I would not raise the question “are you going to hire (so and so)” because if he has done well in the interview cycle, and you bring that up – they will

    a) ask why you’re asking and
    b) asking this – if it leads to being critical of another applicant – could hurt your chances greatly – in fact, disqualify you.

    If they’re convinced he’s a viable candidate and you knock him, they’ll likely hire him and someone else for the position you want. My advice to you is “get over it, learn to work together.”

    When anyone goes to a new place – the idea is to start fresh. Bring in drama, there can be problems.

  25. Kate*

    Probably someone else has suggested this, but OP could you go at this sideways?

    For example: “Interviewer, I would like to verify something that was implied in our previous discussion. I would like to interview with the supervisor you hire before I take the job or not. I have found that having the supervisor and the report understand each other’s working styles is important for the success of the office. For example, when I was working for Bob Lastname, before he was demoted to blank position last year, (insert neutral story here).”

    This would let them know that Bob is lying without making it look like you are tattling.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      It is not appropriate to name people when giving anecdotes like that. Even if I didn’t figure out what the OP was angling at, I would remove her from consideration for naming names like that.

      1. Biff*

        I think it could work with some minor tweaking. Not demoted but “When I was working with our prior manager, Mr. Lastname, blah blah blah. He’s now our Water Boy, so our working style is blah blah blah together. Obviously, even if I meet possible candidates, I have to see how I’d work with them in a boss/employee dynamic.”

    2. Roscoe*

      That would just be odd. I wouldn’t say “When I worked for my manager John Smith, x happened” It just seems like it would be very apparent what is happening

  26. MommieMD*

    I would apply for and accept this dream job. If Bungling Bob signs on he will probably dig his own grave. After you’ve served several months as a stellar employee, you can quietly and calmly voice your concerns if he is not up to par.

  27. No longer new commenter*

    If Bob is hired, sadly, the OP’s chances with the new company are probably over. I can’t imagine he’d willingly hire someone who knew of his demotion and probable misrepresentation of his job history.

  28. dawbs*


    At my last job, there was a very nice guy, we’ll call him Ned.

    Ned got 2 full-time job offers. He had worked part time for both employers (normal in his field), and he was offered a position in Westeros and another in Winterfell. Ned lived in Winterfell with his family. My employer was the one in Westeros–it was probably about equal as far as job offer, but Ned and his family would have to move to live there and the location is challenging–it’s a problematic place to live because of economy and crime and the like.

    Ned took the job in Winterfell. He seemed to be an awesome fit, and he worked super-well with his (our/my) boss…who promptly retired. After a very drawn-out hiring process, Circe was hired, from Westeros (which was the catalyst for me leaving–she was…I don’t know, she and I didn’t mesh well is probably sufficent); Ned’s supervisor from there.
    Apparently he took the ‘worse’ of the 2 job offers in part because he didn’t want to report to Circe, and still ended up reporting to her (which, from what I know, has resulted in Ned being unemployed currently).

    But, the crux of the matter remains that while Circe was going to be obnoxious to report to, wherever she went, the bigger organizational setup would have made the difference.
    In an organization that didn’t allow a boss in Circe’s position to be a dictator of a tiny little kingdom and jerk around employees the way old employer did, Circe would not have been such a devastating choice for so many of us.
    It can be REALLY hard to know this from outside a company, but knowing how much of a PITA a bad boss will be can be key to knowing if it’s worth sucking up for. Especially if the boss is likely to be temporary because he’ll get his butt out because of incompetence.

    1. Lissa*

      At least he ended up just unemployed this time and not beheaded (sorry).

      But yeah, this is a good point, too. If it’s a small industry especially, you never know.

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