A reader writes:
A co-worker of mine was recently promoted to an open position without any other candidates, myself included, having been interviewed. When I first attempted to talk to the hiring manager about this, he accused me of "overreacting" and acting immature.
Now, my purpose is not to argue why I should have been promoted, nor am I particularly interested in running down my co-worker, both of which I would understand him calling immature. I really just want to discuss the process: the idea that the hiring manager – I quote – "didn't consider other candidates because [my co-worker] has been with the company so much longer," as well as anything I might have done wrong in my application.
To this effect, I met privately with the hiring manager (along with my direct manager – one of his assistant managers – as a witness) for almost two hours, but he spent the whole time talking about basic job seeking techniques, the importance of having good connections, etc., with a long aside about how it can be "more difficult for women in management" (I'm female, but I don't see what that has to do with this).
So my question is: how much effort do I put into making him actually listen to me when I say that it's not that I'm crushed by this or anything but that I think he's making a fundamental mistake by making hiring/promotion decisions without actually looking at the candidates...before I go to HR and say the same thing? (It is a mistake for him to pick his preferred candidate from the get-go, isn't it? Or is it not my place to say, even though it has just significantly affected me?)
Well, it's possible that the hiring manager isn't good at hiring. But it's also possible that he knew that you weren't well matched with what he was looking for (if not in skills, then in temperament or general "fit"). And he might have known your colleague was exactly what he was looking for. If either of those are the case, he acted reasonably. If so, his mistake was in not explaining this to you, rather than in making the hiring decision the way he did. (My guess is that that's because he's uncomfortable telling you why he didn't consider you a strong candidate. He's a manager and he should get over his discomfort with that sort of thing ... but the reality is that many managers never do.)
Anyway, I wouldn't recommend saying anything to him or to HR. Because of the context, you'll appear to have an agenda and your message will be lost as a result. And it sounds like you've already had multiple run-in's with the manager (your boss's boss?) on this topic -- one where he told you were being immature and then one even after that, where a witness needed to be involved. I don't think you'll get anywhere by keeping the topic going, and it's possible that refusing to drop it will hurt you.
But you have every right to explore your possibilities for promotion within the company and to look elsewhere if you don't think your needs will be met there. Good luck!