Clearly, I was wrong. Or maybe my expectations were off. But normally a phone interview is a brief screening call. You ask a few questions about the resume, the background, etc. Use the call to see if the person can put a full sentence together, speak intelligently and is more than just a piece of paper.
That was what I was expecting. I had done some research on the company. Checked out their client list. Their vendors, their executives, etc. Checked out the verbiage they use on their site. All that good stuff. When I go for a face to face is when I really spend some time researching. I only did THAT much because I wanted to be able to craft any questions that I had around the position and corporate culture. Apparently, I didn't do enough.
First, she began by explaining the process. A phone interview, an in-person interview with herself and another EVP PLUS a writing test, an in-person interview with their entire sales team, and an interview with the CEO. I thought the AHA was bad, but they've got NOTHING on this place. Did I mention the position they're offering is NOT a management position?
Anyway, instead of the "getting to know you" questions, I got the following:
- After checking out client list, who would you say is missing?
- What would you do to bring a new client on? What if you didn't have a travel budget to visit them? (At this point, I mentioned reading Business Week and using critical thinking to come up with some prospects. In one of her comments later, she said "Business Week is good and all, but it reports on things that have happened in the past. We need you to read things that predict the trends." I thought that was a little condescending.)
- Who are our biggest competitors?
- What is our business model? (I had to ask for clarification as to what she wanted me to answer. The next question was: How do you think we make our money?)
- How do you feel about building relationships with brilliant minds? Do you feel you could handle carrying on conversations? (I was a little offended by that one)
- Clearly you don't have a tech background (this was for a company that deals in the tech industry), how do you think you'd learn about tech?
- What kind of hardware, software and social media do you use?
So, I'm trying to tell her about her own industry without having any background and I'm trying to guess at what their company does with only a very convoluted website to go by (tech people aren't generally naturally good writers). I'm getting no feedback, so I could be completely wrong (although I knew I wasn't that wrong--it's a basic business, not performing open heart surgery). As I'm trying to answer these questions, I feel two things: 1) I don't really want to work for this place and 2) they clearly aren't sold that I'm not a idiot.
When it was my turn to ask questions, I asked what qualities they were most looking for in someone to fulfill the position, what the most pressing issues would be when someone was on board and what the company's vision was. She seemed a little perturbed to have to answer my questions. When I asked her what the vision for the company was, she read off a mission statement. When I asked her the vision for the future (expecting something about growth, increased membership, increased prestige, etc), she said--"that is our vision for the future." Clear as mud.
So, please make me feel better and let me know that all interviews are not like this one. Especially not phone interviews. Luckily, I got another bite today and two more loose ends, so there's always hope.
In fact, there are five words that inspire and terrify me at the same time: "This is only the beginning."