I didn’t even get interviewed for an internal role I was told I was a strong candidate for

A reader writes:

I’m on my department’s leadership team, with three business functions under my umbrella. One of the VP-level leaders on my team had a position open up in his organization, in a function I’ve previously worked in and am hoping to return to. He’s known about my interest in this area for about six months and told me in various discussions towards the end of last year that he supported my candidacy and that I was a “strong applicant“ (that one I even have in writing!). I totally understood that he’d consider the broader applicant pool and that being internal was no guarantee I’d get the position. (Really, I get that. I hire people too.)

This role would oversee a team struggling to recover from a toxic former manager, and this team had repeatedly come to me, as someone in leadership, for help with that situation in the past. I know this team well, and my previous experience in this function was in a very similar niche market as the one at my current company.

The last I heard from the VP-level person about this position was about a month ago, when I formally applied.

Flash forward to yesterday: the VP tells me that our department “really rallied” to squeeze in three interviews at the end of last year and he’s confident he has his “person” in that group. I was so shocked that I had to gather myself and clarify that I would not even be interviewed. His explanation was that he didn’t see me coming out on top, so he wanted to be mindful of everyone’s time — and that the panel interviews were to get external candidates “caught up” to me.

Alison, I’m livid: I get great performance reviews, I’m well-liked, and I’ve been advocating for this team for over a year. I really don’t think this is a case of my company trying to send me a message about my future here.

It sounded like one factor was that these external candidates had qualitatively more years of experience under their belts. As an example, the job description said things like “seven years of experience in X,” which I had — but apparently other candidates had, say, 10 years of experience in X.

I think I’d be at peace with the decision if I’d at least had the chance to discuss my candidacy with the interview committee, but I don’t even know if they are aware I applied. I’m having a lot of trouble getting past the fact that this VP and I sit on the same leadership team and he didn’t let me know that I wouldn’t even be interviewed until long after he’d made that call. Possibly a month later.

I guess what I’m wondering is whether this is as egregious as it seems and what, if anything, I should do to address it. I feel enormously disrespected and disoriented. I wasn’t deserving of basic courtesy from someone who is on my team? I don’t see any way I could trust this person again, let alone work for him (he seems to want to figure out a way for me to work for him in some other capacity). I talked with my HR business partner briefly after I got the news, and she didn’t know that I’d applied or that this was the outcome (recruiting did, obviously). What are your thoughts?

Yeah, he handled this really badly.

When someone internal applies for a role on your team — especially someone who you’ve spoken with about the position in the past and encouraged to apply! — you have to do one of two things: Interview them or proactively explain why you’re not interviewing them.

It’s not an option to let their candidacy sit while you mentally move past them and then just casually mention to them a month later that, oh by the way, you’ve already finished the interviews and you’ve found a hire.

To be clear, it’s certainly possible that what your colleague told you was the truth: He did a round of initial interviews that you weren’t included in to get external candidates “caught up” to you (figuring it didn’t make sense to do early-stage interviews with you when you’re already a known quantity, and planning to bring you in in later stages) but then, after talking to those candidates, realized you weren’t competitive with that pool. That can happen! Sometimes someone internal seems like they’ll be the right choice until you talk to external people and see that they can offer different things.

But he should have talked to you. He should have either just interviewed you — out of respect for you and the previous conversations you’d had about the role, including the ones where he told you he supported your candidacy and you were a strong applicant — or he should have explained the situation. Your reaction probably would have been very different if he’d come to you and said, “I’d hoped to include you in our interview process for this role, but I want to be up-front that we ended up with several candidates who are more competitive because of XYZ. I didn’t foresee that at the start of the process, but that’s where we are.” (Although even then, in his shoes I’d still give you the chance to interview — for reasons of morale and respect, if nothing else.)

As for where to go from here, one option is to wait and see who he hires. Once you know a bit about the hire, it’s possible it’ll be clearer to you why he handled the interview process the way he did.

But if not, or if you don’t want to wait for that, talk to him! You could say something like, “Believe me, I understand how hiring goes, and that someone external can end up being the best candidate. I’ve had it happen when I’m hiring, and I get it. But I was surprised I wasn’t able to even interview after the conversations we’d had about the role earlier — or that we didn’t at least touch base so I knew where things stood, rather than finding out so late that I wouldn’t even be asked to interview.” You could also say, “I’m not arguing I was entitled to an interview if other candidates were stronger, but I was taken aback by the lack of communication after the many conversations we’d had about it.”

{ 186 comments… read them below }

  1. TiredMama*

    If you feel like trust was broken (I agree it was), then I think you have to have a follow-up conversation so that you can find a new normal working relationship with him. Tell him you have feedback for him about how he handled the process and communication with you (as Alison said) and that it left you feeling undervalued, which has impacted your working relationship. See how he responds and go from there. I definitely would treat any further positive statements from him with lots of grains of salts.

    1. yup yup*

      Something similar happened to me a few years ago. It turned out the hiring manager had a former colleague (ok let’s be honest, a friend) from another company in mind for the role. I didn’t have a chance. The friend wound up being a good hire but this experience really changed my relationship with that manager.

    2. SG*

      This is good advice *except* that I would not use the word “feedback” with someone that senior to you. You can share all the rest of this without saying you have “feedback for him” which is not a phrase you would normally use when communicating to someone who outranks you unless you are have a close relationship where you’ve established that type of candid communication style with each other.

    3. Joan Rivers*

      It’s possible the guy making this decision takes LW for granted as one of those “dependable” types who are always there. Saying you were “disappointed” w/how he treated you — rather than have “feedback” for him — and then seeing how he responds to that, THAT would be interesting.

      He may give a clue how LW is viewed for the future. Or even what he expects you to do to help the new hire, if anything.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I am mad on behalf of the team too. They would’ve probably preferred a manager who had already been advocating for, and working with, them for over a year, to a random candidate off the street who had a higher number of years of experience.

      1. Eye roll*

        Yes! They had a toxic manager. They decided they could trust and rely on OP to guide and advocate for them. Instead of respecting that and strongly considering OP for the role, they brought in an unknown quantity. The team will be sitting in dread for months waiting to see how this works out and if a new crazy is going to develop. This is the situation where you move OP into the job at least on an interim basis to help the team recover and rebuild their normal first.

      2. Not a Blossom*

        Same. If I were on that team, I would be really upset. Who knows? The new person might be great. But even if they are, there will be bumps and awkwardness when they begin. That’s fine in normal circumstances, but in a team that’s trying to recover from a toxic manager, it would leave me on pins and needles.

      3. sally*

        Bingo. I’m not going to say there’s NEVER a reason to go with an outside hire. But sometimes I think hiring managers get ridiculous emoji-heart-eyes over external experience in cases where that is not warranted.

        Did the winning candidate really have something uniquely amazing to offer that LW couldn’t have possibly provided – or learned to provide – given that LW has proven themselves sharp, well-liked, competent and trustworthy already? Given that LW was actively encouraged to apply for that same job?!

        I think sometimes hiring managers are so swayed by other employers giving a person the seal of approval, they forget that isn’t the only thing that matters! One of the big reasons people leave jobs is that they don’t have room for professional growth even when they are doing everything right. Then executives scratch their heads and wonder why nobody sticks around.

        1. Paulina*

          The emoji-heart-eyes reaction to some external candidates also includes how they come across in the interview, an opportunity the OP was denied. (New and shiny! Discussions of the actual job being hired for!) Even the most familiar with an internal candidate shouldn’t assume that they know everything about them and how they would relate to the new job. Unless the OP didn’t make the cut based on a previous stage of the assessment, it wasn’t fair to let the external candidates have the panel experience and compare it to different exposure that they have of the OP. The mention of “catching them up” to the OP suggests that they were deliberately trying to not favour the internal candidate, and in so doing may have weighted the field against them.

      4. Crooked Bird*

        Yes!! So someone has three more years of experience–so what?? Trust is priceless. There’s no factory that makes it. No matter what nanotech they have.
        And the way people will work for and with a manager they trust *and are grateful to* is priceless too. Because it’s good for everyone–not just the company but the employees too.

  2. tazdevil*

    The disrespect is mean to send you a subtle signal about how you are going to be valued in this organization moving forward. Take heed, polish up that resume, and when you leave tell them that their poor treatment of you during this situation is the reason why.

      1. Brandon*

        Given the information we have, I agree it’s a leap, though perhaps only a modest one. If the guy is generally obtuse or absent minded, then nothing negative was likely intended. If this is a guy who is more organized, then I agree with tazdevil that it should be construed negatively. You could make a strong argument that if they thought more of the OP, they would not have treated them this way. In my own company, there is a massive difference in how people destined for leadership are treated and how everyone else is treated.

      2. tazdevil*


        This exact thing happend to me before, and many of my colleagues and those senior to me in the organization were absolutly shocked about the decision. Despite the fact that my competition had 5 more years of experience on paper, he knew Sh*t about how to do the job and kept pressuring me for assistance getting him up to speeed. At this point, I contacted HR and informed them that I would be doing no such thing for this guy, started sending out resumes and left the job less than one month later.

        I respectfully disagree: the executive mentioned that the panel interviews were intended to have the external candidates “caught up” to the OP. Organizations do not go out of their way to make sure that an outside candidate is “caught up” with an internal candidate unless they want to make sure that the internal candidate does not win the race for the job. The executive put his thumb on the scale to ensure that the OP did not get the job. It would be interesting to find out what connection if any the person who won this role has to the executive, as well as whether the OP was a visible minority.

        1. OP*

          I’ll be curious to see who the hire is too. I’m a white cisgender female in a technical field, two levels below the VP. We both have terminal degrees in our fields. I guess because we are both part of the leadership team I expected to be handled more carefully, despite any hierarchy imposed by leveling. I’ve been at the company for almost 3 years, and he joined about 6 months ago.

          1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

            Any chance the new hire is male?

            If so, I would document the heck out of this situation. And get my resume in order.

            1. Lizzo*

              +1 to this. A close friend (white, cisgender female) was one of three finalists for a top administrative job at her school. The second candidate was also internal–same demographics. Who did they hire? The external candidate: white, cisgender male. The way she has been treated since that hire has made it very clear how much they value her and what she has contributed to the school in the 13+ years she’s been there, which is to say, not at all. That external hire has done a crappy job and has wrecked their previously wonderful, collaborative workplace culture.

              OP, give the leadership a chance to explain themselves, but be very cautious about taking them at their word with their responses. They’ve shown you who they are–believe them. And get that resume polished.

              1. SharonC*

                OMG, yes document all of this, then. I bet you that VP decided that you’re going to be unreliable due to family obligations and maybe another maternity leave. If so, that’s egregious.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s actually very common not to make internal candidates do first round interviews because it’s unnecessary when their work is so well known. It’s not about keeping them out of the job, as a general practice.

          1. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

            Where I work, all internal candidates are interviewed for permanent positions, unless it’s very clear it’s not necessary.

              1. Perfectly Particular*

                In my company – you can level-up in your current role without interviewing, but no one can change roles without an interview. There is also a minimum number of candidates that must be interviewed. I think it is less about being rigid, and more about ensuring internal candidates are treated fairly. We are encouraged to move around throughout the company, so there may be very good internal candidates that are unknown to the hiring manager.

          2. OP*

            That’s helpful, Alison. I didn’t know that. I think my only concern with that concept is that my current role is in a different area than the one I applied for, so the interview panel likely doesn’t know about my previous work in this function (at another company). The folks on the interview panel could pick me out of a lineup, but probably don’t know what my qualifications are/are not as they relate to this new role. So, although I wasn’t entitled to a first round interview, I think it would have greatly strengthened my candidacy.

            1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

              I’m curious if the person who told you, in writing, that you would be considered, put your name to anyone.
              Did he forget, did he feel pressure to hire externally? Is there some feeling that you are tainted by the previous toxic leadership?
              Those are things you should be able to ask.

          3. Paulina*

            Can’t that lead to poor assumptions, particularly in cases like this where the work from the OP that others would know is in a different area and potentially at a lower level, and where the hiring manager is quite new themselves?

        3. Craig H*

          So you assume, based on your extremely limited personal experience, that the same is true in all other cases that might bear any similarity? That’s… quite a leap. Is your critical thinking always this weak? It might explain why they didn’t want you for the job if so.

          1. Swiper*

            I agree the leap being made here is inappropriate and probably inaccurate, given what the OP says about their performance reviews and history with the organization and I don’t think it’s advice they OP should take at all. This seems unnecessarily personal and harsh, though.

      3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        It still is poor form. And a disrespectful “Passover Shuffle” directed at you is sufficient grounds to polish up the resume and start looking.

        Things like this are often very difficult to fix after they’ve played out. If they hired the wrong person and passed YOU over (and you may or may have not been the “right candidate” but you weren’t given a chance) – sure, you might resign and management might say “you know, you’re right, what happened to you was wrong” — OK, OK, but does management have the courage and fortitude to FIX the problem?

        No, too much loss of face. They almost always won’t act on their errors.

      4. Student*

        It varies in different orgs, but I tend to agree with Tazdevil’s assessment. In my industry, if the OP was well-regarded by her management chain, this is the type of “mess up” that no one would dare to do. She might not get selected for the role, but if management held her in high regard and took an active interest in her career development, they’d make sure she got serious consideration for the role. In any org I’ve worked for, a popular and effective internal candidate will have several people advocating for her for an advanced role she’s well-suited for.

        A hiring process in a large org is never just one person. There’s the hiring manager, that person’s manager, a hiring committee, a recruitment lead, a budget manager, and possible a committee that decided what positions would be opened that business cycle. Maybe one person makes the final decision – but there were a lot of other people who had a chance to speak up and did not do so.

    1. FunTimes*

      LW explicitly said in the letter “I really don’t think this is a case of my company trying to send me a message about my future here” so this seems like unhelpful speculation. LW knows their company, we don’t.

      1. Khatul Madame*

        In case of a direct supervisor’s objectives vs abstract company goodwill, the supervisor will most likely win out.
        OP, you said that the VP has worked there for about 6 months. Based on the timing, he is definitely building his own entourage/team and I wouldn’t be surprised as the new hire is somehow connected to him.
        You could wait and see how things shake out post-restructure. However, I would not expect a lot of support for your career goals from this individual (although he may be very happy with you staying where you currently are).

        1. OP*

          Very interesting comment. FWIW, one of his previous reports was already at our company when he joined, and he has since absorbed that person from another leadership team member’s reporting line to serve his org. He also just poached another former direct from his old company to report into him. I have definitely had the sense that he is padding himself with known commodities/that he wants his binky. I think he’s happy to flatter me if it serves him, but he’s certainly not looking out for me.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            OP, be aware that often “back room deals” are made between managers not to touch the other manager’s employees.

            Sad, but it happens. That’s happened to me in my career. What’s painful is having to pick up the pieces from the new employee’s failure….

            Had to do that once, or twice, or more, too.

          2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            Oh…um…yeah, I highly recommend starting at least a soft job search. This new VP sounds like he is recreating his past workplace, which has a lot of risks.

            1) High chance of significantly changing the company culture. That could be good or bad, but I’m inclined to think bad, since it sounds like he has favorites.
            2) The new situation means there’s a not insignificant risk of blocking your chances to advance.

            A soft job search means you can find a new job that works well for you, as a backup in case my cynical worst case scenario comes true.

            1. GemmaBeth*

              I don’t know why so many people are jumping straight to job hunting / leaving. It seems to assume she works for this VP who is hiring, and therefore it’s her boss who is declining to interview her, but that’s not what OP wrote. She said they work on the same leadership team, so they are closer to peers, even if her level is one or two lower. Especially if this is a large company, this means nothing except that this one guy handled this rudely and she should take what he says with a grain of salt.

          3. Des*

            I 100% agree that he is not looking out for you. Whatever else he’s doing, he is not thinking about you as someone who’s career is important to him.

          4. allathian*

            I work in government rather than in the corporate world and my experience from the private sector is in customer service or entry-level roles, but this really paints a different picture of the whole thing than your original letter did, where you didn’t say anything about how this VP is building an entourage of people he knows from before. How much time has passed since you sent in the question, and do you feel like anything has changed since then?

            I wouldn’t count on being able to advance in this company for as long as this VP works there.

  3. singularity*

    Is there a chance that you could a promotion to a job like this if you interviewed elsewhere? If you’re really feeling like you’ve lost trust in him, my inclination would be to begin the process of looking around for the equivalent job at another company. Obviously that’s depends on whether or not you feel like you can rebuild a relationship of trust with this person.

  4. Brandon*

    OP, I truly feel awful for you. I really like the conclusion as laid out by Allison, once you have gathered yourself and feel up to it, speak with the fellow. I feel his response will be telling, if he apologizes for the oversight and perhaps admits he could’ve handled it better (even whilst standing by his hire) that would one thing. If he tries to rewrite history or if he perhaps suddenly can’t recall inviting you to apply or calling you a strong candidate, that would tell you a lot about how he sees you (in my opinion). I do not mean to be preachy, you sound more experienced than I (I’ve been in the professional workforce less than a decade), but personal experience has caused me to take all such comments from my superiors concerning possible advancement with a huge grain of salt. Indeed, organizations seem to love the hip outside candidate.

    1. Willis*

      Yeah, I agree with this. His response will be really telling and would influence how I felt about him from there.

    2. FunTimes*

      Yes, this is a really good idea. This sucks, but it could be an honest oversight by a disorganized exec – or, it could be something more. No point in jumping to the worst interpretation without more data. (And I’m not necessarily on the side of “it’s nothing.” I left a job after they did something similar to me, and the new hire was incompetent to boot. It was a clear signal that I wasn’t valued there.)

    3. Aquawoman*

      “organizations seem to love the hip outside candidate.”

      I was thinking that if they did hire someone unknown just because they had a few more years of experience over someone who they had evidence would do the job well, it showed really poor judgment.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        My organization is currently in this mode. They downsized a lot of people in the last 2 years, many who had been there 10, 20 or even 30 years in order to “bring in new skills and new mindset.”
        We were told “no rehires” unless it was difficult to fill the role and you could make a case for it. Really unfair.

    4. pcake*

      To me, if he tries to rewrite history or if he perhaps suddenly can’t recall inviting you to apply or calling you a strong candidate, that would tell you a lot about how he does business in general rather than how he sees the OP. In my experience, a dishonorable person acting dishonorably isn’t a reflection on the person – or in most cases, the many people – he or she acts dishonorable to.

    5. allathian*

      The OP mentioned above that the VP has been hiring other people he knows from before, so it definitely looks like he’s building an entourage of people he’s enjoyed working with before. It’s a pretty big red flag to me.

  5. Cat Tree*

    Simple communication really goes a long way. I was once one of several contractors in a department when a permanent position opened up doing the exact same work (that’s a separate issue). My boss encouraged us all to apply. This was one of those entry-level positions that required a year of relevant experience. Before the interviews started, my boss apologized and explained to me that since I had only 10 months of experience, the recruiting group wouldn’t even allow me to interview. She challenged their decision but wasn’t successful in changing it. I was disappointed but not devastated since it wasn’t my dream job. But I really appreciated her honesty so I wasn’t sitting around feeling like garbage while everyone else interviewed.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      It reflects well on you that your boss rallied for you even though you didn’t make the cut off.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Becky = “Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me?” song.

      2. Cat Tree*

        They get literally over 100 applications for every posting and they have to draw a line somewhere. The bigger issue here is that we had contractors doing the exact same work as permanent employees, and this wasn’t a short-term thing while sorting out staffing issues, nor for a specific project for a set period of time. But that part isn’t on the recruiting department and they certainly didn’t know the extent that it was happening.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      If 10 months of experience isn’t close enough to a year to even warrant a discussion… it’s a sign that (if you had got the job) you would likely have been up against other rigid practices in the future…

  6. PolarVortex*

    Man, I’ve been a bit livid about being passed over for someone with less experience than me this week for a role. But I think yours is worse, you at least sounded like you were ensured an interview and I just lost to a golden child (a habit in my company).

  7. DancerD*

    I have been in this exact situation before. It sucks but my disappointment turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I hope that for OP also.

  8. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    People lie. Polish your résumé and get revenge working for a competitor.

    1. Seal*

      This. Years ago I found myself in the same situation as the OP. Once I got over the initial shock I got my resume in order, threw myself into job hunting, and found a new job at another institution. Since it was nearly identical to the internal one I wasn’t allowed to interview for, everyone knew EXACTLY why I was leaving. Within 2 years of my leaving my former department fell apart and everyone in it was either fired or reassigned, largely because the person they hired instead of me was an incompetent idiot. Meanwhile my career took off. Living well really is the best revenge!

    2. NYWeasel*

      Yup. Was *begged* to apply, was told how much they wanted me in the role. Long story short, after I applied, hiring manger got worried about some politics at his level, and decided he needed to hire a completely unqualified pal from an old job to have his back. Before I found this out (but after he’d decided not to hire me), he broadcast that I was applying to my coworkers, and then didn’t tell me to my face. Just told us we had to train this new guy. Joke was on him as I’d also been interviewing externally, and gave my notice before the new guy officially started.

      Was honestly one of the best feelings to walk in and hand my notice over!

  9. OP*

    OP here. I struggle with whether to bring this up with him directly because I’ve already given him a huge chunk of my time, and trust, via my application and those initial conversations….and it went badly. I typically would do what Alison and others here advised and talk with him, but I think I need to evaluate whether that would change anything for me. In a best-case scenario, he apologizes. Would an apology feel meaningful and provide a foundation to rebuild trust? If not, I’m not inclined to spend any more of my time helping him have a learning moment that advances his competence as a leader- I’m going to spend it working on something that benefits ME. Complicating matters is the fact that I found out today there is going to be a restructure, and I’ll be reporting to this person on an interim basis (it’s genuinely an interim thing). But in any case….salt, salt, and more salt in the future when this person opens his mouth.

    1. Anononon*

      Ugh, OP. I know that calculation far too well – yes, I could raise this issue professionally, and I may get a decent response, but is it worth it? Does it really matter what they say?

    2. BRR*

      I think it’s really smart how you’re considering his possible responses and realistically thinking if they will change anything. It’s a very practical and down to earth approach.

      1. Nea*

        Yes, and someone this clear-eyed and analytical would be a huge benefit to any company. So, OP, go find the company that realizes your worth.

    3. Brandon*

      Yes, and worst case scenario is that he tags you as a whiner or as not being a team player. It all depends on your experience with him, is he normally reasonable?

    4. Lana Kane*

      I think you know the answer here.

      The letter alone gave me bad vibes about this person, and with this update even more so. Whether he is intentionally sidestepping you (could be), or he’s building his own niche team (my sneaking suspicion – I’d be interested in knowing who he hired), or he’s simply clueless (not likely), he’s not trustowrthy and he’s not a team player within your leadership group.

      Personally, I wouldn’t say anything to him as, like you, I don’t see an upside for you. But file this information away for as long as you’re both there. It will come in handy, probably sooner rather than later.

      1. pope suburban*

        I read it the same way, as someone working in an agency whose management is building their own niche team at the expense of many qualified internal candidates. I opted not to follow up on my recent icing-out for an interview because these people have demonstrated they’re not trustworthy on a number of occasions, and I couldn’t see follow-up going well for me. But now I know, and it’s freed me to start looking for better opportunities. That’s not the ideal outcome, but it’s better than waiting around hoping that unreasonable people will become reasonable.

    5. KWu*

      My inclination is that if this VP-level person needs it explained to him how he handled it badly, he’s unlikely to learn anything that will benefit you and yeah, I think you run the risk of being labeled as a whiner (so he doesn’t have to confront the threat to his ego as a “fair guy”). There’s benefit to having that conversation if you feel getting it off your chest will allow you to have a significantly improved working relationship going forward, but given the total obliviousness, if you can stomach it, I vote for filing it away as this guy can’t be trusted to at least be considerate and temper your expectations going forward. I’m sorry this happened. Good luck!

    6. TiredMama*

      I didn’t pick up this feeling at all from your letter so I’m glad you’ve added it. If you are ready to move on, then do it! Life is too short.

    7. lazuli*

      Since you’re going to have to report to him for a while, there could be a case to be made that by speaking to him, you’re at least deactivating that salt-in-the-wound feeling — I know for me, that type of hurt gets worse if I don’t say anything, regardless of the other person’s response. Right now you don’t trust him; if you speak to him and he apologizes insincerely, you’re not really any worse off, and it may be easier to label it in your mind as “Done” so that you can move on. And there’s the tiny potential that the conversation could be helpful.

    8. AthenaC*

      I will say that at one point in my career, I have been in a situation where:

      – One or more people have outright violated my trust
      – Among the remaining people I can trust, I don’t have any effective avenues of redress
      – Among the remaining people I’m not sure I can trust, there are indicators of either deliberate deception or forgetfulness (and I am unlikely to ever know which one)

      In looking at the totality of the fact pattern, I reached a conclusion similar to you and found another job. It just wasn’t worth the effort and the anxiety trying to make something work when I was being sabotaged by people that I really needed a good relationship with.


      1. kitryan*

        I was in a situation where your three bullet points all applied too – my boss was on my side but didn’t have much negotiating power to get me the promotion-equivalent I wanted, grand-boss didn’t like me and *appeared* to be sabotaging me in ways I couldn’t prove were malicious or intentional and the big boss who was the final word on this stuff went from warm to cold after talking to grand-boss.
        I left after that. I was never going to advance under the current leadership. *However* turns out that grand-boss left within a month of my departure and if I’d waited for the next season to make my requests to the replacement, things may very well have gone my way, as that person seemed much more reasonable and didn’t already dislike me.
        I might have been able to come back the next season, however seeing the big boss turn on a dime like that (while no one admitted what was really going on) was disheartening and soured me on the whole organization.

    9. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

      I think you have your answer.
      Is he trustworthy? No.
      Is vested in helping you succeed? No.
      Is he now, even temporarily (read indefinitely) your supervisor? Yes.
      Start looking.
      Taking a proactive role in your own life will do wonders for your outlook.

    10. ambivalent*

      Oh dear. My suggestion previously would have been to let it go (the VP just doesn’t sound like the kind of person who would admit to being in the wrong or change anything, more likely to label you a prima donna however well you explain it), but if they are going to manage you, even for a short time, the situation is more serious. I’d go above them if possible to explain what happened and see if you can avoid working under them even for the short term. You don’t want to work under somebody who doesn’t respect you enough to communicate appropriately, and could possibly be actively undermining you.

    11. linger*

      The update that there will be restructuring that leads to OP reporting to this manager opens up several other interpretations for consideration.
      Two crucial questions are: How long ago was the manager aware of these plans? And how much secrecy was imposed around those plans? If the manager was aware of, but unable to share those plans with OP, and realized how those plans could impact OP’s role, then that provides a possible reason for the manager’s lack of clear communication. (It still sucks, but it sucks more understandably.)
      For the OP, it may help to separate their ability to trust this manager into two different questions:
      (1) Does this manager genuinely value the OP’s work?
      It seems the manager has chosen to have OP working with them. So the answer is very likely YES. OP should therefore trust the manager’s earlier evaluative comments as reflecting their genuine opinion.
      (2) Can OP trust this manager to honestly advocate for her when the manager has a conflict of interest? Almost certainly NO. But maybe that is not by itself a barrier to a productive working relationship, given the answer to (1).

      1. OP*

        All great points. The VP did NOT know this was coming, and I agree that the situation with this position is not in and of itself a barrier to working productively. The VP in fact offered platitudes about how valuable my work is in my current role, which validates point (1). Still, I think what it boils down to is whether working with this person benefits me, given that I will not have his advocacy.

    12. Quinalla*

      I agree, I too would normally talk to someone as Alison suggest too, but in this case if you don’t think it will benefit you – I would not waste your time. Just take this as a known thing about him and take care in the future. We often have to learn these lessons the hard way about people we once put our trust in and I think you are smart to not be putting your trust or time into anything with him again that isn’t going to benefit you (or obviously if it is part of your job).

      I’ve run into a few folks at work who talked very nice and friendly to my face and then were happy to throw me under the bus if it benefitted them/their core team. I’m quite sure they don’t see it that way, they think they are doing what is best, but the result is not best for anyone outside of them or their core team. But yeah, if someone burns me like that once, I don’t forget. I can still work with them, but I have them in a mental box separate from those at work that I can trust to really work for the whole company even if they/their team has to take a temporary hit.

    13. Batgirl*

      It’s an unsatisfying conclusion when you realise someone can’t really make any amends because too many scales have fallen from your eyes. The speed at which you can move on is satisfying though.

    14. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      OP – the trust was broken. Unless your manager immediately addresses your plight – you’ve been deprived of a career opportunity at your company that you at least earned a CHANCE to pursue – it probably won’t change anything but it is worth a shot as you’ve got time invested in that company.

      And you shouldn’t be worried about your manager. WORRY ABOUT YOURSELF! Take care of number 1 – move forward.

    15. Des*

      I wonder if he knew the restructuring was coming earlier and made decisions that favoured him (e.g. keeping you working on his team) vs your career.

    16. anon today*

      So, I would be pissed as hell too, and I wouldn’t blame you for deciding to polish your resume and essentially telling the VP to get f***ed if he is upset when you leave.

      But…if you think you’re going to stay, I would argue that there is some value in calling this guy out. Like greendoor mentioned below, watching his discomfort over being called out on this can give some satisfaction in itself. And beyond that, if you plan to stay with this organization, then I think that helping this guy’s managerial competency can be to your benefit – especially since you are temporarily reporting to him.

    17. Out of Office*

      At this point I would be concerned about why the prior manager of that team was able to become so toxic that they significantly damaged thier team. This behavior makes me think that there are multiple layers of disfunction.

    18. Miss Marple*

      OP sorry this happened to you and given how you are treated I would not be willing to invest any more of my time into this situation.

      Is it possible that he is intimidated by the respect that the team and others in the company have for you?

      I have seen it play out many times that an insecure Manager does not want to promote strong internal candidates that have skills they lack. They are terrified that the people above them will see that the person is capable of doing their job. , Sadly there are managers and executives out there that do not like having people with a better skill set in some areas than them in their team.

      The change in reporting would have me polishing up my resume, as he treated you badly and there is a high chance you will be expected to train the new appointee.

      Good luck and I hope you provide us with an update.

    19. LGC*

      …it’s 12 days into 2021 and we have a competitor for Worst Boss of 2021.

      (Okay, we have a second, but one is perennial.)

      Wishing you the best of luck – and that you hopefully don’t have to work under him because you’ve got a better job doing what you love.

    20. allathian*

      Oh dear. The more updates you post, the more red flags I see waving. Do yourself a favor and start looking for a job now. He’s broken your trust and I really don’t see how it can be rebuilt. I don’t believe he has your back, and he could even sabotage your career if he wanted to. It seems to be in his interest to keep you in your current role.

      I’d love to know if these updates change Alison’s advice at all…

    21. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Would an apology feel meaningful and provide a foundation to rebuild trust?

      No. Only actions (his) can do that.

      Is the interim position a ‘higher’ one in terms of responsibilities, visibility etc? if so, milk all you can out of that for resume purposes and then seek to move on.

  10. voyager1*

    Honest question.

    What do you want to happen now? If you are not in consideration then I really don’t see how having a conversation that AAM suggests is any benefit. I mean you have in writing that he thought you were a “strong candidate.” Yet he didn’t interview you. Actions speak louder then words. You really need to consider if what you have in writing is what he REALLY thinks.

    I have been in your position before. This is your sign to move on.

    1. Halla*

      He thought OP was a strong candidate until he looked at who else might be good, and then once he saw the applicant pool he realised that OP wasn’t as strong a candidate as he had initially assumed. It happens. I’m sure OP is a good employee but maybe they just weren’t as good as they thought they were, and the wake-up call is stinging a bit.

      1. Brandon*

        I believe your statement extends the duty of charity only to the VP and overlooks facts in the letter…”His explanation was that he didn’t see me coming out on top, so he wanted to be mindful of everyone’s time — and that the panel interviews were to get external candidates “caught up” to me.”

        So by the VPs own word’s, the external applicants had shortcoming which the OP didn’t have.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think “caught up” in this context means “caught up in the hiring cycle” — as in “we know lots about OP and nothing about these external candidates, let’s give them a chance to introduce themselves.”

          1. Brandon*

            Context is obviously important. It’s possible that the OP, who only months prior was considered a strong candidate, was overshadowed by the external candidates to the point that they didn’t even merit an interview. I also feel that to be fair, we must consider the possibility that they’ve been lied to as well.

          2. voyager1*

            I read that line as Brandon read it. It is unclear wording that is for sure.

            But not giving the LW even a courtesy interview in the case is really bad. I would feel differently if she was just a random internal applicant, but this really feels like the VP knows the LW is pretty well qualified.

            1. voyager1*

              Really feels to be an advantage to the external applicants. They got face time with the decision makers, where the LW didn’t. Seems like an excuse managers would use to peg people in jobs and keep them there. The whole we know you are great X so why interview you for Y.

      2. Zona the Great*

        This is too charitable to the manager. Manager failed tremendously in not giving OP a very candid conversation about why s/he was not chosen for an interview. OP is not upset about not getting the job; they are upset that they got dicked around by their own employer.

        1. Esmeralda*

          What’s especially bad is that OP had to ask — manager either didn’t think to let her know or chickened out.

      3. OP*

        Yeah, it’s not about the wake-up call. It’s about not having been kept in the loop on the hiring process and knowing my colleagues were interviewing the external candidates a month before I was told I wouldn’t be interviewed.

        1. ambivalent*

          The charitable interpretation is that it was cowardice and/or procrastination. The VP thought other candidates were better but didn’t want to give bad news, or have a difficult conversation, so waited until it was a fait acompli, and hoped you’d just give up at this point. Similar to why managers often don’t bother sending rejections to job applicants. Yes, this is worse, and Very frustrating, but bad managers (and, just, people) sometimes behave this way without being terrible human beings.

        2. Joan Rivers*

          “Knowledge is power.”

          You sound like a team player who passes the ball and realizes others don’t pass it to you.
          Look at me making a sports analogy, but you sound dedicated and surprised.

      4. Tex*

        It was a panel interview where the rest of the panel did not know about OP’s past experience in the team’s specialty. VP knew and didn’t share it. So this was a subtle sabotage by omission.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. I do hope Alison reads all the updates by the OP in this thread, I’d love to know if this changes her advice at all. To me it looks like deliberate career sabotage not to interview an internal candidate. Sure, in some situations it would be appropriate to skip the first round if the entire hiring panel knows the candidate’s work, but that’s not the case here.

  11. GreenDoor*

    It’s a sucky conversation to have….but I’d have that follow up. I, too, was an internal candidate who was passed over for an external candidate. I work in government so I found because peopel who were privvy to the next appointment list mentioned it. Embarassing. I went to my boss and asked to talk. I said, “Other people ion the building have apparently seen the list and mentioned to me that I’m not on it. I was wondering how other people could know before me?” The deer in the headlights look on her face made all the nervousous worth it. She gave some response that was basically “I value government bureaucracy more than humanity” But I didn’t focus on that. Instead I said, “I would have liked to know that I wasn’t chosen so that we could have had a conversation about the areas in which you felt I was weak and things I can do to improve my performance.” And the look on her face showed me she realized that she actually screwed up there, too. A missed management opportunity! And it showed me that she assumed the worst as far as how I’d react. But I got what I wanted out of that hard conversation. I put her on notice that she screwed up and I showed that I can handle disappointment and turn it into a growth opportunity. So have the akward conversation. It’s worth it. (Also, after she left,my next boss promoted me two levels above that position I had applied for. So pfffttt to you, Lenore!)

    1. Quinalla*

      I love this so much, I will try and be more like you GreenDoor when crap like this happens to me in the future!

    2. Had enough of turkeys*

      Much more professional (and inspiring) than my impetus to say, “Know what happens when I sit down to a holiday feast? I (staring straight at vp)…get stuffed!”

    3. allathian*

      Wow, I wish I had the poise to do the same if this ever happened to me. Are you still working for her?

    4. DaisyGrrl*

      I had a similar experience, where a colleague was promoted to a higher level within the team and no one was told. I saw the publicly posted notice (government job), and thought hard about how to approach it. I had a scheduled one on one with a senior exec the next day, so I expressed my disappointment that the notice went up without at least a heads-up to the team. I focused on the lack of communication to the team, pointed out that it was directly at odds with a recent commitment to transparency in hiring decisions, and expressed the hope that future promotions would be handled with more transparency.

      Then while I was chatting with the employee in question, I mentioned that I saw the notice and sincerely congratulated her on the promotion. Turns out she was relieved to have it out in the open because our manager had asked her to keep it quiet! We all celebrated her success and moved on with our work.

      The fallout: promotion was formally announced to the team. Management acknowledged that I had a point that they should have been more proactive in communicating to the team. When I was similarly promoted later that year, my manager followed the exact process I had suggested for sharing staffing decisions with the team. I’ve been promoted again since then (same management team involved), so I count myself fortunate that they took the upward feedback with good grace. :)

    5. Remote Worker and Dog Lover*

      I had a similar-ish experience in my last job. I applied for a couple internal transfers, including one that would have been a promotion. For one, I got an interview, but another internal candidate won out. The hiring manager was really gracious in explaining to me why I didn’t get the role. For the other position, I didn’t even get an interview. I asked for feedback and ended up in a productive meeting with my boss’ boss. It was awkward for sure, especially since I realized just how inexperienced I was for the promotion I wanted, but afterward my supervisor did help me get more responsibility so that I could be ready later.

      So yeah, it might be an uncomfortable conversation, but I think it’s worth having. At the very least, I think you’ll get a better idea of how likely it is that you can move up in the company, and what barriers may be standing in your way.

  12. Lacey*

    Ugh, this is enormously frustrating.

    OP, I think you’re right to be careful about this guy in the future. This is definitely a flag.

  13. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    This: When someone internal applies for a role on your team — especially someone who you’ve spoken with about the position in the past and encouraged to apply! — you have to do one of two things: Interview them or proactively explain why you’re not interviewing them.

    Thank you for saying that, Alison. I once applied for an internal job, after being told about it and when my own job was at risk of a layoff, and encouraged to apply. And my application was never acknowledged and I never heard back directly. I completely understood why I wasn’t chosen (I wasn’t truly qualified but I wanted to avoid a layoff so took a chance) but to hear nothing was galling for an internal position. I expect to get ghosted for external but for internal? No.

    I would be mad too.

  14. achoos*

    I’m so sorry, OP.
    I’ve had to tell internal candidates they weren’t making it to the next round and it’s never an easy conversation. I’ve seen plenty of top people who are conflict-averse put their own discomfort over being humane to the colleague. Me, I’ve always, always, brought to the conversation ways that the person could strengthen their application next time and how I’d help them do so; assured them that their current work is very good and the decision does not reflect concerns; and in the case of the person in a temporary position, that I would be happy to serve as a positive reference for other jobs.

    1. Marika*

      This is the way.

      Yes, it’s hard. Yes, people’s feelings are hurt. But it’s also classy and helps keep people level and reduces hurt feelings and makes people feel valued.

      I have been passed over twice – the first time I applied for a full-time teaching slot and did not get it; no fuss, there were four slots, five of us went to second round and I didn’t get it. My boss did pretty much what you did – told me what I needed to do, reassured me, was great. Now, what I needed to do was show that I was ‘integrated’ into my department – so I sat on committees, I did extra work, I handed over a document on citation that I spent months developing; I was contract, so no extra pay for any of that, and I owned my copyright on the document but the department ‘claimed’ it when I handed it over. You know where this is going, right? Three more slots opened up – I didn’t make the second round. Not only that, they declined to renew my contract. The boss who had been so helpful? Yeah, couldn’t meet my eyes the entire conversation – looked at my shoes the whole time.

      Now, there were ‘external’ circumstances – turns out, institutions never forgive and never forget, and my father had helped unionize the colleges in our province 20+ years earlier, and still taught at the school (1000+ faculty, totally different department and School). Apparently,HR thought it would “be inappropriate” for them to hire me full time – in a department where nepotism wasn’t exactly unheard of. So – yeah. I was cut loose.

      Honesty compels me to note that I moved cities, moved in with my long-distance boyfriend, and we’ve been married a decade and have a kiddo – it didn’t turn out badly for me long term (even if I am now a substitute teacher and mostly SAHM; after kiddo arrived my husband was headhunted to the US, and because of NAFTA/H1B lottery/the 2016 election results, I didn’t have work permission for almost seven years – and yes, we’re damn lucky it took that little time, I know – and, well, getting started again at 40+ with no US experience and a 6+ year gap is… well, let’s just say it’s been a ride. I was starting to get somewhere, and then March hit….).

      1. Hlyssande*

        They should have at least told you up front that’s why you were getting passed over. Pretty crappy not to. A ‘hey, we’re really sorry but we also have to avoid even a hint of nepotism’ would have gone a long way.

  15. PT*

    I had this happen to me, too. I was already doing the interim job, because they needed me to clean up from a failed hire. Boss passed me over without so much as an interview, hired a man with half my experience, and left me to do his job for him at less than half his pay while he struggled and failed. He was put on a PIP the day after I left and terminated 30 days later, because he literally could not function in the role without me as a safety net.

    So yeah, time to move along.

  16. Alice Quinn*

    I really feel for you, OP. I had a very similar situation happen to me recently. A job was going to be posted under my VP, so I emailed her expressing my interest. She responded really positively, and we set some time up to talk about it and then I formally applied. I didn’t even get an interview, and it really hurt and felt like a betrayal of sorts, which probably wasn’t a reasonable reaction to have, but there you go. I felt like I was owed at least an explanation of why I wasn’t chosen for an interview since I report under her.

    In my case, the position coincided with recent layoffs at my company, so they probably had a robust candidate pool of displaced people looking for new roles, but the lack of acknowledgment hurt.

  17. HugsAreNotTolerated*

    This guy handled this very poorly, no doubt about it. I would guess that he was of the mindset all along that he was going to hire externally because he wanted a ‘clean slate’ for this position since the team was coming off a toxic manager, and was just kinda nodding and smiling when you expressed interest because he didn’t want to lose you in that temporary role of caretaker for that team.
    I can bet that when you do move on, this guy will also express befuddlement as to why you’re leaving when “you have such a bright future with the company!”

  18. Cheesehead*

    Way back, several decades ago, I was somewhat new to the working world and got what I consider to be my first professional job. I had a lot to learn, and it was a training/support rep position for the entire state, so I covered 3 offices. I had no boss onsite. I had to pretty much take the initiative to learn everything, because formal training was….nonexistent. They introduced a new product, had very little support and NO documentation for it (we had to make our own), and I took it upon myself to learn parts of that product in depth, so much so that I knew things that our national tech support didn’t know. I was sent to a tricky client out of state and saved the day when nobody else could, not even national tech support. I thought that when I hit my review, I would be a shoo-in for advancement to the next level because of all that I accomplished; not a whole lot different in duties, but a higher salary (and of course the acknowledgement that I was doing a good job), and that really matters when they start you out at the lowest possible salary. Well, at my review, they never mentioned anything about a promotion. I had to take my boss to the airport after that, and I asked her about it. I know I surprised her, and she tried to blow me off: “Well, you have to be in the position for two years….(remembering that she’d just given me my 2 year review, two months late)….oh, I guess you have been. Well, uh, we can take a look at it in 6 months.” Boom. That was it. I was devastated, because I thought that at least I’d be considered. And at the time, I viewed that as her taking $1000+ (the minimum salary difference for 6 months) away from me because she FORGOT. I completely lost respect for her, that she couldn’t even admit that she forgot and just pushed me off for 6 months so casually, after all that I’d done. I knew then that I was never going to get a fair shake, and that no matter what I did, I wouldn’t get recognized for it. I started looking and resigned about 6 weeks later. My boss was SHOCKED. My only regret all of these years later is that I didn’t tell her outright that her refusing to consider me for the next level because she FORGOT sealed the deal for me and what made me start looking. Instead, I mumbled something about there being no opportunities for advancement.

    OP, really watch that guy. I don’t know if you should talk to him or not, but I would start looking to check out your options. The cynic in me wonders if they didn’t consider you because 1) They have the job earmarked for someone else, or 2) They want to keep you in your current role. But keep an eye on him, and try to start tactfully refusing to anything that would be in the scope of working with that other department, or doing that job that you weren’t even considered for. Be suddenly too busy to step in. Document anything you hear from that boss and CYA.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Yes Cheesehead – it is CRITICAL that you tell the EXACT reason why you’re leaving.

      Always allow (gracefully) a manager to fix what they broke. If you were candid it might, it JUST MIGHT, prompt an attitude change. And prompt management into FIXING what was broken.

      Now it doesn’t always happen – but sometimes, it DOES. Sometimes managers paint themselves into a corner, and you have to give them a way out. If you had been frank about it, you might get a “look, let’s see what we can do”… and if the remedy is immediately undertaken, that’s a good sign. If they start talking “gee whiz, or maybe down the road, it’s something we can work toward” BS … bail out.

      1. Cheesehead*

        Thanks. They were notorious for undervaluing the people in my position. It was all about sales, see, because they brought in the money. But when the sales department was making unrealistic promises and setting unrealistic expectations and letting the support people clean up their mess….. Well, let’s just say that though I still regret not telling that manager what made me leave, in the time since then, I don’t think that doing that would have made a difference. They got what they wanted out of me for what they were willing to pay, for as long as I was willing to accept that, and then it was time for the next person who would agree to it. I talked to the people at my location after that, and they said my replacement didn’t know squat and they wished I was still there. But I ended up better for it….at the job that I left for, I met my hubby, and we’ll celebrate our 25th in May. Still regret not telling her, but it was a good lesson for me to speak my mind. Regrets are certainly a powerful motivator for changing things going forward!

  19. kittymommy*

    It’s things like these that sometimes makes me appreciate the rigidity of government. All applications go through HR first and everyone who is internal gets an interview as long as they meet minimum qualifications.

  20. Coffee Bean*

    I really wish companies would make a strong effort to consider an internal candidate first rather than bypassing internal employees. Not all companies do this. But companies who pursue external candidates first when there are viable internal candidates seem not to realize what a morale buster this can be.

    1. Double A*

      It can go both ways. Some companies promote internally almost exclusively and develop a calcified culture because they never have fresh eyes. Others only ever hire externally, demotivating their staff and causing them to feel there’s no room for advancement.

      Ideally, you’d balance internal and external hires.

  21. TimeTravlR*

    In my office we have a written rule that all internal candidates get an interview. It doesn’t take that much time, even if we don’t think they are the strongest candidate. It absolutely hurts morale when an internal candidate isn’t even spoken to.

    1. TeapotNinja*

      Same. I’ve had some miserable interviews with candidates that were so clearly unqualified we knew in advance they wouldn’t cut it, but we still interviewed them.

    2. Regular Reader*

      +1 to this. For some entry level internal candidates, even though they don’t get the posts, its a good learning experience, especially if helpful feedback is given to them so they know where the gaps are that they need to work on. Learning experience for the interviewers too when they realise an internal candidate is better than they assumed and whilst not suitable for the post, is worth watching for the future.

    3. Velvet Cupcake*

      I’m mixed. If a not-as-strong candidate is included because they are qualified, sure. But if there is no chance, why?

      I’ve interviewed for a lot of internal postings where the candidate was already pre-selected, but since I met the criteria, they conducted an interview with me. The one that hurt the most, though, was a stretch job I applied for and was surprised to get past the resume screening, and the phone screen to an interview with the HM. When preparing, I discovered that I’d interacted with the HM in previous roles, and the position would be working with a former manager whom I got along great with. Both conducted the interview.

      I didn’t bomb the interview, but I knew within five minutes that I would NOT be getting the job. It was not the right job or fit for me. And I was right, no offer. However, neither the HM nor the former manager emailed or called me to let me know, as is standard in the company. They flat ghosted me. And that hurt.

    4. Remote Worker and Dog Lover*

      My office tries as much as possible to interview all internal candidates, but we get so many applications that it’s become harder to guarantee everyone an interview. When it’s not possible to grant an interview, I always clearly explain why. Most of the time, it’s due to lack of experience combined with a large applicant pool. But I do ask if they’d like feedback about their application and for some I’ll even see if they want to meet with me in a more informational capacity to discuss their career goals. It sucks not to be able to interview everyone, but at least expectations are clear.

  22. Bethie*

    I am in government and had something similar happen, multiple times. I was not allowed to interview for a promotional position bc someone who left, and came back, had already held that promotional position. And this is allowable under the type of classification of the position.
    Then I was passed over for someone who was a newer internal candidate bc I have never “supervised” people. This was after I was told I was qualified and then told, after the interview, I wasnt qualified. Based solely on prior supervision. That person became my new direct boss.
    But COVID happened, and there werent a lot of openings in my State. So I sucked it up and kept doing my thing. I was passed over again for a supervisory position bc I didnt have experience in a certian social services field. But…. they got approval for a 2 year working out of class for me.
    So I get a promotion for 2 years. I really like my work and the people I work with – but I know where I am in their minds. Even though I get a lot of positive feedback. So, I am taking my 2 years and getting a terminal degree and working to learn and be the best supervisor I can and then I will move on. And they know that. Its unspoken, just like their feelings on me.
    So all that to say, sometimes you find out what people really think, no matter how hard you try, and you put that in a little box in your mind and work to be better and do better and then one day move on to better.

  23. Firecat*

    Manger ignores high value employee application.
    Manager then botches the communication of “you didn’t get it”.
    High value employee justifyably feels slighted and like manager is untrustworthy.
    High value employee gets another job.
    Manager, shocked “No we need you!!!!!”

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Firecat, yes, been there and done that and received the “No we need you!” but, OK, before I finalize my resignation – HOW WILL WE FIX THE PROBLEM WE HAVE?

      – will they remove the new hire and promote you into that slot after all? OF COURSE NOT.

      – will they give you some type of promotion on paper and the money that you would have had? MAYBE. Getting them to do it retroactively can be tough – which is why you should not let it fester. If you lose a couple months of “promotion pay” that’s one thing; if it gets to six months or a year, getting a “stay bonus” / retroactive raise to cover what you should have earned is difficult.

      Unfortunately – when this happens – yes, if a person didn’t have the capabilities then be candid with them, but when there’s a bad “pass over” usually managers will come up with some screwball rationalization for it and live with the situation they created.

      Just don’t be too Pollyana-ish about helping those that hurt you by fixing a bad situation that they created.

    2. SJJ*


      Not sure this will come through..

      1. allathian*

        Love it! I haven’t seen one of those in years, and I’m old enough to have started my online life with a 9.6 kbit/s modem and a BBS.

  24. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

    OP, from your explanation of the org chart, it sounds like you report to a director who reports to the VP in question? If that’s the case, how likely is it that your director tried to block your move?

  25. Autumnheart*

    OP, I’m sorry that you had this experience, but I also went through something similar a couple years ago, so I feel really validated right now. Prior to applying for an opening, I asked my manager (who was the hiring manager!) for an assessment and if it would be a good idea to apply, and he encouraged me and gave me some advice on preparing for the interview. A couple weeks later, I found out through the grapevine that all the candidates advancing to the second round were chosen, and a few days later, got the call from HR that I wouldn’t be one of them. I didn’t even hear from my own manager about it for another 3 days. This is a guy who sat 3 desks down from me and whom I saw every day.

    Needless to say, I was furious. Not because I expected to be handed the job–it went to an internal candidate, who was just as qualified if not more, and I’m delighted they got it! That wasn’t the problem. The problem was that my own manager a) didn’t give me an honest assessment to begin with, and b) let me hear the bad news elsewhere so he wouldn’t have to have a hard conversation. As if I was just supposed to show up the next day like that didn’t happen?

    I applied for a lateral move within the month and got it. But I have to tell you, now there’s a similar opening available, and I have to say my self-confidence in my abilities is still really suffering from how my former manager decided to handle things. Do I apply (different hiring manager this time) and make my case, or am I just not up for consideration and don’t know it because nobody will tell me? This kind of thing can really knock a person for a loop.

    1. Autumnheart*

      (Just for clarity, my then-manager encouraged me to apply, then declined to give me an interview.)

    2. Jenny Next*

      If the job sounds like something you want, then I think you should go for it. You may not get it, but you definitely won’t be hired if you don’t apply! Please don’t let the previous manager define the rest of your career.

  26. Tisiphone*

    I’ve had a similar experience on the technical side of things, as opposed to management. Several jobs ago, I was a call center technician. It was a poor fit for my hands-on-preferring self, and there came a posting for a job repairing PCs at one of the retail locations.

    Before working for that company, I’d been working at a retail store repairing computers. Before that, as a computer manufacturer testing and repairing computers. Oh, and I spent a week at one of the stores assisting with repairs as part of a very short-lived program for the phone techs – I lucked out and was one of the first to get to do this. I thought I had an excellent chance of getting off the phones.

    I polished up my resume and sent it in.

    Time passed. No interview. No response. More time passed. I got an email from HR about the job I’d applied for. The form letter told me they declined to interview me because I was not qualified.

    I laughed long and loud, printed out the email, and showed all of my work buddies so we could all get a good laugh. That company was not a good one to work for. A couple decades have gone by and I’m much happier.

  27. RC Rascal*

    OP mentions the team is recovering from a toxic former manager. Sometimes in messy situations an executive will strategically bring in an outsider. That way they can tell their senior management they chose to “ inject talent into the organization.” And if the person fails they have a built in CYA and can more easily eliminate the manager because they don’t have internal networks. Then they tell their seniors that the outsider “ wasn’t a cultural fit”.

    I lost an internal role due to this dynamic once. The department was a hot mess and it was all ultimately for the best.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      The second part to this can be that the person fails, is fired / reorg’ed out / whatever and then the OP is finally offered the job. And at that point she should turn it down.

  28. AvaMarie*

    Something similar happened to me. I was in the top 2 for an internal role in a new department. I have an advanced degree as well as subject matter expertise in the group the role would support. I didn’t get the job. A few months later, another slot opened up on the same team. I emailed the hiring manager and let them know I was excited to see another opportunity and that I was going to throw my hat back into the ring. I didn’t even get a phone screen. When a 3rd slot opened up a few months later, they took my job location off as one that was eligible to apply. Um, okay. I get the picture. Probably a blessing because I’ve had further interactions with the hiring manager and we would have NOT gotten along. Plus, the two that they hired in those roles posted out as soon as they could.

  29. Cassidy*

    Had this happen several years ago and it’s as demoralizibng as it sounds. New boss over-promised without realizing that a colleague, the real sheriff in town, had other ideas. All kinds of toxicity. I found out on my own that I wouldn’t proceed and packed up my office even before boss told me – and even then, she couldn’t bring herself to tell me why. I was only too happy to resign and find another job.

  30. TheHotNerd*

    OP, I have had similar happen to me — internal job candidate, told I was good fit, silence, so I asked about it, and oh — they found someone else and I didn’t get an interview.
    It was just another sign that the hiring manger was a self-centered, egotistical butthead and after that experience, I found out he had done other terrible things to other coworkers (taking credit for their accomplishments, backstabbing, etc).
    When someone shows you who they are, believe them

  31. Sparkles McFadden*

    I feel for you OP, as this situation was completely mishandled. I do think it’s a good idea to talk to the VP in question to say “I understand how things go in hiring, but…” You may not want to do that but I always think it’s better to have the conversation than wonder about it.

    You will need to decide how to proceed, but this might have very little to do with you. Depending on how bad the toxic manager situation was, it’s entirely possible that upper management would prefer an outside candidate. It is often helpful to bring in someone totally unfamiliar with the prior bad situation and the personalities involved. Maybe they want the benefit of a fresh perspective.

    I am cynical enough to have seen management assume anyone from the outside is better than any internal candidates, and to see people hire friends to create their own cult of personality. In such cases, you probably would be better off pursuing other opportunities. Wait and see when the new person fills the position and then you may know enough to make a decision.

    Best of luck and I am so sorry you are going through this.

  32. Jennifer*

    I think I would rather someone tell me upfront that I have no chance of getting the job than be interviewed out of courtesy when it’s pointless. I hate interviewing. It takes a lot out of me. I don’t want to go through all that prep for nothing.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Hm. Well certainly if they don’t feel you meet the qualifications they should tell you that upfront.
      But I do think employees should be interviewed as a courtesy.

    2. Roci*

      I think either way there is communication there that you can act on, no? Either they tell you you have no chance, or they give you a chance. They don’t do what this guy did, tell you that you have a chance and not give you one.

    3. allathian*

      That’s true. OTOH interviewing is a skill like public speaking, usually the more you do it, the less intimidating it seems. Even if it’s a job you’re not qualified for, it gives a heads-up to the hiring managers that you’re looking to advance or to increase your skills. Even if you fail to get the job, when you interview internally there’s a greater chance that you can at least find out what new skills you need to be hired the next time, unless the org is completely dysfunctional.

      This happened to a friend of mine when she was looking for her first promotion from an entry-level job to a more specialized one. The hiring manager, who wasn’t in her direct chain of command, became her mentor and coached her so that the next time there was an opening in her department, she applied and got the job.

  33. staceyizme*

    He sounds like he might have missed a clue bus here. Is he normally prone to this kind of oversight in communication? Looking at the quality of the final hire will give you some insight into whether this was a failed courtesy or a botched decision making process. In any case, I’m sorry that it played out that way.

  34. MissDisplaced*

    I don’t want you to get angry or do anything rash, but yeah this really sucks. At best, it’s dismissive of a current qualified employee, and at worst, it’s extremely disrespectful and demoralizing. Do you think there are political motives at play here? Sometimes companies just want new (ie outside) thought leadership. Unfortunately, also sometimes when a person is really GOOD at their job, bosses don’t want them to move up and away from that job.
    It’s terrible but it happens.

    I’m certain there was a very well qualified pool of talent right now. But what you’ve described (your 7 years experience versus 10 years) is such a quibble given you know the company and team and work. Unless there is something really superior about that candidate.

    I’m sorry OP.

  35. Signe*

    Is it possible someone in your reporting line intervened with the hiring manager and he didn’t want to throw them under the bus (i.e. your manager told him not to hire you away)? This happened at my first job. I had a great rapport with the team I was looking to join, interviewed and, based on the feedback, it seemed all but in the bag. I was devastated when they ended up going with an external hire, but a colleague on that team called to tell me my boss had asked the other team’s manager not to hire me.

  36. Happily Retired*

    The organization I just retired early from did this at least twice. I came in from the outside, but not without experience in the field. A internal candidate with experience but no college degree also applied for the job. She was not interviewed, but quit after I started. Then when I announced my retirement due to family issues, two staffers applied. One was not a good candidate, but the other was. Same thing. Not even the courtesy of an interview. Both staffers left.

    It’s just not smart for the search committee to ignore internal candidates.

  37. cncx*

    Yeah, i’m dealing with a similar situation right now where some organizational changes would have gone over a LOT better with just a basic level of good HR and people management. Things that people are NOT ACCEPTING that would have been ok with just a few one to one discussions. And not even discussions that changed decisions or policy, just discussions that say “i hear you and see you and you are important to our organization.” It doesn’t matter how much people get paid if they feel like no one listens to them or cares.

    I’m so sorry OP. In your position i would be furious- not about not getting the job but not even getting the courtesy and respect of a conversation. That’s what happened at my current place regarding some changes. I’m not mad about the changes, i’m mad about the absolute disregard. You deserved at least a private, early discussion about why they were moving forward with these other candidacies.

  38. Bookworm*

    I had this happen to me, although at a much lower level and slightly different dynamics. I was encouraged to apply by the top boss, had an interview (which, in retrospect, I did not take as seriously as I could and should have because I thought it was a formality and because this was early in my career so I didn’t really understand any of this) and then never formally heard back. When Top Boss asked I said that (never heard back, not sure what was going on?) he had the manager who clearly didn’t want to tell me they weren’t giving me the job talk to me.

    They hired someone with more experience (fine). Person turned up drunk (like, apparently alcohol on the breath could be smelled) and had to be sent home. Didn’t show up to explain or pick up the paycheck for the hours worked.

    Top Boss if I still wanted the job. I said no. Some people have no idea how to manage, no idea how to really handle hiring, etc. I’m sorry that happened to you.

  39. That_guy*

    I didn’t read all the comments, so someone else might have said the same thing. I apologize if that is the case.
    I have a hypothesis that internal candidates have a disadvantage. I have seen it happen numerous times, and had it happen to me once, where the internal candidate was rejected because they were too well known. The people making the decision were aware of the faults the person had, and of course external candidates were able to minimize and obscure their shortcomings in the interview process. In each of these cases, the external candidate who was hired had more, and more severe, deficiencies than the internal candidate who was passed over. The organization ended up losing both people; the new outside hire flamed out and the passed over left for essentially the same position they missed out on.
    The other thing that I’ve seen, and experienced, is “we need to keep you where you are because we can’t replace you in the role you have.” Another surefire way to lose good employees.

    1. OP*

      I absolutely agree. It’s unfortunate. There are certainly times where new blood can revitalize an organization, but in this situation I think the VP became starry-eyed about external folks. External candidates don’t know what I do and can’t present a balanced view of how we can grow, and I’m not sure he wanted to hear anything but promises of smooth sailing (not that I got to present a view of anything!). On to the next….where I’ll irk people by being external. I think I may actually inquire, if I’m at the offer stage, whether there were internal candidates for the position, and why they were not chosen. It says a lot about an org.

    1. OP*

      I want to thank Alison and the whole community of commenters for your support and advice. Before I wrote in, my husband was cautioning me that the internet can be cruel and that I needed to brace myself for hurtful remarks. I told him that AAM wasn’t like that- that it’s a group of really smart, constructive professionals, many of whom engage regularly. I told him that if I was off-base, I would hear that respectfully, and if I wasn’t, I’d be validated. In either case, I would get good advice. You didn’t let me down: I feel clarity on what this whole mess was and what I need to do next, and equipped with some really valuable pearls of wisdom. Many of you even identified parallel dynamics that I left out for the sake of brevity. I will certainly write Alison with an update when the dust settles!

  40. Former Employee*

    I only saw one other comment along the lines that I am thinking, so I’ll leave mine because it isn’t too redundant.

    I’m wondering if this VP is afraid that if the OP moves up a rung that the next step is that he will find that OP may be in contention for his job.

    After reading that this VP likes to have his buddies around him, I get an even stronger feeling that he is insecure and may feel threatened by people who have been at the company longer and have more inside track advantage.

    1. J.B.*

      I was not interviewed or given the slightest explanation for a job that went to a vp’s protogen, and I had to leave because I was not going to get opportunities at that office.

  41. Bill Johnson*

    It will be interesting for the OP to see who got the job and possibly post a follow-up. Something is off with the VP, either he was never sincere, to begin with regarding OP’s performance (which sounds doubtful) or the candidate has some kind of tie to the VP. Anyway, this VP was a coward to bury this for a month.

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