Should I be flattered, or worried?
May 7, 2010 11:21 AM   Subscribe

I thought I was about to get a job offer. When I went in for the final interview, the boss told me another boss at the company was interested in me, too. What happens now?

I had an interview last week. It was my third interview with the same company - I had already had one phone interview and one in-person interview; the latter interview was with the Head of HR and the person who would be my direct superior. It was a good interview; salary was discussed, everybody agreed I was a great fit for the position, laughing and smiling, etc.

After this interview, the HR guy called me a couple weeks later and gave me the spiel about how I had a bright future with the company, and that they wanted me to come back and meet the Big Boss (my direct superior’s boss). I assumed, or hoped, this was more a rubber-stamping kind of thing, like as long as I didn't come across as totally insane, they'd probably make an offer.

So I go in for the third interview. I chatted with Big Boss and we went through my work history and previous projects. We probably didn't talk for more than about 15 minutes in total. He seemed really busy; he was nice, but appeared distracted. After I'd quickly walked him through my previous work, he threw a curveball: "There's another Big Boss here, on another account, that has heard about you and wants to talk with you - if you're interested. I know we didn't mention it to you before, but he's really keen to talk to you." I was really taken aback, but of course I said I’d be happy to talk to Big Boss 2.

I ended up talking for a long time to Big Boss 2, who was far more enthusiastic and attentive than Boss 1. In fact we talked for about an hour. I was introduced to someone else who works with him and who shared more information with me about their particular account. My experience is perfectly aligned to what they need, almost to a scary degree. We had a great discussion, and Big Boss 2 went so far as to say he had total confidence in my ability to do the job, loved the work I’d previously done, and thought I’d be a great fit personality-wise with the rest of the team.

Sounds great, right? Well, I’m not so sure. Obviously Big Boss 1 told Big Boss 2 about me; I’m flattered at BB2’s interest, and would love to work for him, but I am also still interested in the possibility of working for BB1 (I mean, I went into the interview with BB1 thinking it was pretty likely I’d get an offer). During my conversations with BB2, I tried to express that I was interested in both teams, but am afraid to openly prefer one over the other (which I don’t anyway).

It would certainly seem almost definite that I'll get an offer from either one team or the other; if I didn't, after all this, I'd be heartbroken (not to mention kind of irritated... this has been dragging on for weeks now.) So I just want to tread as carefully as possible. Should I assume that if BB1 is so willing to pass me off to another team, he’s no longer interested in hiring me? I think there was possibly one other candidate they were interviewing, but I'm not sure - so maybe they intend to hire the other guy? Is this just some sort of internal political thing that the BBs are going to have to settle amongst themselves? How should I handle it if I’m asked again to choose between the two teams – might I be setting myself up for future problems/bad blood if I do end up working for the company? Any other insight into what might be going on here?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (14 answers total)
If they gave you the choice, then they're giving you the choice. You say that "obviously Big Boss 1 told Big Boss 2 about me," but do you know this? You spoke to HR -- isn't it possible that someone there saw your resume and said, "Hey, anonymous here would totally fit on BB2's team even better"?

For that matter, it's also highly likely that BB1 had a really great interview series with the other candidate as well, and was trying to figure out whether you or this other guy were best for the job, and someone said, "Hey, remember that Two's looking for someone in the same area."

If they offer you your choice, then take the one you'd rather be working at. If it creates future problems with the other team, then they're picking the fight, not you.
posted by Etrigan at 11:27 AM on May 7, 2010

You're probably worrying over nothing. If their HR people are worth the cardboard they're printed on, you shouldn't have to choose between the two teams. If an offer is forthcoming (and it sounds likely that one would be) it would most likely be for one position.

On the other hand, in the unlikely event that they do put the decision-making onus on you, you should think long and hard about whether you want to work at a company with such a fucked up corporate structure that they can't decide which department a new hire would be most valuable to them.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 11:30 AM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think its pretty clear that:

1) You can get an offer from either of the two bosses.

2) If you had a choice you should go with BB2.


The second boss has shown more interest and is more attentive. It is very likely that your relationship with this person would be better than with BB1 so if I were you I wouldnt worry.

How should you handle it? Professionally, always remember, is not personal and it is business. If somebody ever asks you why you made your choice, you can always say that you think you are a better fit, and would be more beneficial to one boss rather than the other.
posted by The1andonly at 11:31 AM on May 7, 2010

And, unless that's your career, *do not work for HR*. Unless you are actually in power at HR, It is a terrible trap for all sorts of reasons. Just one man's experience, but think about it very hard.
posted by Invoke at 11:34 AM on May 7, 2010

Something like this happened recently where I work, only the interviews were internal. My then-current project was winding down and my manager directed me to another manager looking for someone. After everything looked super-groovy, another position came up with a different team. I didn't think my experience for the second team didn't seem as close as a match as the first position. They put it up to me to pick one. I picked the second based on the vibes of the hiring manager.

It's been about six months. So far, so good.
posted by Doohickie at 11:36 AM on May 7, 2010

I think in your excitement you are overthinking this a little.

It seems to me that Big Boss 1 is interested in you, and is a good manager. He's mentioned you to others, which means that even though he doesn't know to much about you, he's been impressed. But, as a good manager he wants the best for the company and its workers -- that's why you talked with Big Boss 2. That's not internal politics between them; that's cooperation between two managers. They aren't arguing over you, they are making rational decisions to find what's best for everyone (the two teams, and you) -- which is a good thing.

I don't think they will ask you to make a placement decision for them. But, you surely are getting a job offer with a company that takes its time to find the right person, for the right job, with the right fit for everyone. Congratulations!
posted by Houstonian at 11:38 AM on May 7, 2010 [4 favorites]

BB1 and BB2 might be drawing from different budgets -- despite being under the same roof, you might be a better fit, in terms of dollars and cents, with one team than another. BB1 and BB2 may be negotiating with each other over how they'll bring you on, and how they'll each work with you.

Solely from your perspective, I wouldn't be terribly worried about this.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:44 AM on May 7, 2010

Sorry to be the dark rain cloud here; I just have to say that from my personal experience 3 interviews with a company drawn out over weeks, being told that you're their top candidate, and implicit promises of an impending offer do NOT mean that the company is actually going to make you an offer. Amazing, but true.

But anyway, I'll nth the sentiment that you will probably get one offer for either one position or the other, HR or someone else will decide where they ultimately want you, and then ask you to work there.
posted by Vorteks at 11:44 AM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just based on your account of it, it sounds to me like Boss1 saw the great fit you were for Boss2 and facilitated that discussion.
posted by xingcat at 11:45 AM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

It would help to know some details about the industry/job. I think this might mean different things for lawyers or engineers. On the software industry, I've seen this happen in a couple situations:

1) reorgs/priority shifts - some time during your interview period something changed internally (teams moved from one boss to another, or suddenly a high-level decision was made that shifts workload from BB1 to BB2), and BB2 now has the higher priority for hiring.

2) Fit - BB1 would be willing to hire you, but he thinks you'll fit better with BB2. This could be either related to their needs and your skill set, or even to how satisfacted they think you'll be in each position (especially in industries with high turnover and competitive hiring, they'll try to accomodate you wherever you'd be maximally satisfied, so you'll be more likely stay around longer)

If you don't have any strong preference, I'd say say go with the flow.
posted by qvantamon at 11:50 AM on May 7, 2010

One thing to keep in mind, is that if these two departments/accounts are friendly enough that they are talking about their potential new hires, there is a good possibility of internal transfer further down the road (like in a few year) after you get hired.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 12:25 PM on May 7, 2010

Recruiter (15 yrs experience) responding.

Yes, you are way over-thinking this. Normal but, all in all, a waste of your time. You, and all the rest of us, could guess until we're blue in the face and still not come close to the true explanation of events.

Etrigan is likely closest to the mark with the supposition that other candidates are involved and that the decision is simply taking longer than anyone originally thought. Employers are jumpy these days and, even when faced with someone they think is ideal, will procrastinate longer than is useful or even necessary.

On the unlikely chance that the choice is left in your hands, it sounds as though BB2 has the advantage based on your report of the better chemistry/rapport.

Put your attention back on doing a good job for the boss you have now and RELAX.
posted by John Borrowman at 12:49 PM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Can you clarify something for me (unless I missed it), when you say boss #2 from a "different account", do you mean he's the boss of a different, completely separate and un-related company? Or he's the boss of another division/parent/sub company?

I would think if boss #1 referred you to someone from a completely unrelated organization that he wasn't as interested in you as you hoped (because if I were thinking of hiring somebody and thought they were good for my company and myself and my employees spent hours interviewing, etc., I sure wouldn't want to share that person with anybody else). I guess you'll find out once one of them (hopefully) makes you an offer. If one makes and offer and the other doesn't, and you basically like them both equally, it's not like you owe the other one anything. I suppose you could then call the other and tell them of the offer and ask if they are willing to make an offer too, but since they know eachother well enough to make a referral then you likely would end up shooting yourself in the foot.
posted by 1000monkeys at 2:56 AM on May 8, 2010

Okay, I just re-read your post and it looks like they are both from the same company. In that case, I would take whichever job was offered to you. I doubt that boss #1 would also refer you to another boss in an unrelated department if he was really, really interested in hiring you. It seems that boss #2 was more interested in you, anyways, and it sounds like you would work well with him. Frankly, in this day finding a decent job is difficult, so unless you are really more into or suited for a particular position, I'd take whichever one was offered to you (assuming the duties, pay, and benefits are acceptable to you, of course).
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:50 AM on May 8, 2010

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