Should existing employees interview their potential managers?

Employees should not be on the interview panel choosing potential new managers and leaders due to inherent bias, says a Senior Leader at Amazon.
By: | October 18, 2023

Existing employees and team members should not be interviewing or screening the candidates for their future managers and leaders, said Brandon Southern, Head of Business Intelligence Analytics at Amazon and former Head of Analytics at eBay and GameStop.

Southern, who has been involved with hundreds of interviews across several organisations for more than 20 years, has explained that a practice that he has seen but not approved of is the practice of employees conducting interviews and choosing who might lead them as future managers within the organisation.

“Getting feedback from the candidate’s potential direct reports might seem like a good idea,” Southern writes in Business Insider. “However, there’s a conflict of interest and potential misalignment with the needs of the organisation.”

Firstly, this is because having a new management position open means that often, at least one existing team member believes that they should be promoted to manager of the team.

Yet, opening the role to outside candidates instead of promoting an employee from within the organisation means that none of the existing employees qualified for the position. This might promote resentment amongst employees who might be upset that they must interview a candidate for a job they feel they deserve This then leads to the possibility of employees picking lower-calibre candidates as their manager to find opportunities to outshine the new manager and, from there, pick likeable candidates instead of good, qualified candidates that could lead organisations to long-term success.

READ MORE: More managers choosing internal job candidates for new positions

Southern cautioned that what is needed are unbiased interviewers with proper experience, qualifications, and training to properly evaluate candidates. “More qualified and less conflicted interviewers should be selected for the primary screening process,” Southern said. “Should there need be to involve existing employees, informal interviews can be held so team members can get to know their potential new manager or call out obvious red flags that may have been missed.”