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jan paul
jan paul

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How to deal with real imposters?

Since we all read a lot about imposter syndrom, we tend to see an unrecognized genius in our collegues.

BUT? How to deal with an actual real imposter in your job?

I have been hired for a nice project, JAVA Backend + REACT (SSR) Frontend, Webassembly, webGL and Azure, just to bring you some buzzwords. The run is planed for like 5 years, so to say, it is today already planned, what they want to do with the product in the future.

After 10 years of beeing a developer, mostly Frontend, but also JSP/jinja/smartie and other templating stuff, i decided to take this position for the following reasons:

  1. the stack looks familiar, but also there are some new things
  2. the lifetime of the project (to comparsion, most agency project last 3 months in coding)
  3. there will be a new team formed, since we take the project over and make it an internal company project
  4. my desire to become a senior developer (not only moneywise)

And when they hired me, they said, there will be an IT Team soon in our company. So far, so good.

Then "the corana" happened and it was decided to hire only the Senior Architect, the HR found a promising candidate. No, they don't liked the indian guys, sadly. Still i bet he was good at JAVA but bad in german (since iam german).
They offered the job to someone else. It is a handsome, very charming, young and old, 10 years of experience as team-leader "senior software architect".

Just after stalking him on xing (our german linkedin) i realized, that his buzzwords never fit to each other. he has 4 star experience in C++/C#!!


WTF, in either one, or in both? i mean for me, its been worlds between microsoft .NET and C++, but ok...

Then he has 4 Stars in JAVA/Android Studio? Hu? Java OR android or both or what? Iam confused.

But, i am the smallest lightbulb in the world, so they hired him, and he gets paid well, since i know my salary, which is pretty ok, but it is not the money i am about.

After talking to him for an hour, i realized he mixes terminology up. From my experience, if i dont develop daily, skills decay. I forget things, even the any type in Hypescript (joke is on me).

I wonder if it is reasonable to think, that someone who has not been in coding for 10 years, since his resumee is saying "PROJEKT MANAGER" and not "DEVELOPER", simply can not code.

We talked. He didn't know that JAVA servers are configurable for the MEM they are allowed to use.
He has no ****ing clue about JAVA changing it's business model and versioning, openjdk vs oracle java.

He messes up PUT and POST and sends the same JSON-body on the same route, and asks me after two hours "why is this not working" (we use a swagger).

So i told him: "please be honest, how good is your JAVA?"
He replied: "i can learn fast, iam just learning spring boot on udemy right now."
And then he said, and this made me really listen up. "In the job description the where looking for a nodejs guy", So his resume has 4 of 5 stars in JAVA/android, but he applied for nodejs?

JEZ. I get confused about all the wrong buzzwords and project manager gibber he is talking.

My boss asked me, what i think about my new collegue. What would you say in this moment? I tend to be diplomatic. "He is really nice. I like him. I hope he can show me things in backend, that will make me senior in 4-5 years too."

I know this differs to the usual stuff, it's more a writeup. But let me get to the point.

I think he is an imposter, since he knows what is paid in IT.

How would you react if you find out your colleque is a liar about his skillset, wirite some tipps in the comments.

Among all the smart guys with imposter-syndrome, are some real imposters, for the lulz and the $$$$

Top comments (6)

sandraahlgrimm profile image
Sandra Ahlgrimm

Thanks for sharing this. I do suffer from time to time from imposter syndrome. And your story is helping me to differentiate.

If I were you, I would not lie. Telling the truth is always worth it. Especially, if you want to become Senior yourself. He could be the one learning from you. If that could fit to your company and you'd like that. That would be something you can offer to your manager (or the upper management). Otherwise terminate the contract because of incompetence.
The whole story also indicates that the Headhunter was not good for your company, as well as your interviewing process is lacking. You might have been able to identify that this candidate was mixing terms. That can be an opportunity for you also! Ask, if you can be included into the interviewing process.

You and your company, you both can learn a lot from this experience.

tobiastimm profile image
Tobias Timm

As Sandra said, be honest, share your opinion, and suggest solutions to improve the whole process/situation.
It happens that the impression from the recruitment process doesn't align with the daily work impression. Feedback and suggestion solutions should always be welcomed.

blender profile image
Saloni Goyal

Interesting read.

nyorja profile image
Rod Fetalvero

I have this a experience in the past. What we did is we terminate the contract because of incompetence.

codefinity profile image
Manav Misra

Right, but how did you do that? You didn’t just tell the person that they were “incompetent.” Right? What was the approach on this? 🧐

nyorja profile image
Rod Fetalvero

As far I remember he is not delivering his task as well. We observe during the code review sessions he didn't follow the suggestions of other devs and didn't know how to unit test his code.