Shortly after the first nibble from a recruiter, my wife got an email from a different recruiter. They were looking for business analysts to work on a two year contract. While I prefer a permanent position, two years is a decent length of time to figure out a next move. Even better, even the somewhat vague description of the position made it pretty apparently that that position was with a specific employer that I was targeting. If I got this position, I could treat it as a two year audition in an attempt to get hired. (Note: some recruiters don’t allow companies to hire the contractors. This recruiter does allow it.)
I reached out to the recruiter via email. We then had a brief phone call where we talked about my experience. At the end of the call, he requested that I create a consultant profile using a template he provided. I spent about an hours in MS Word tweaking things and fired it off to him.
The recruiter was very optimistic about my chances. In his words, the only reason the company wouldn’t want me would be if “the hiring manager was your archnemisis”. I knew that Lazy Man wasn’t the hiring manager, so it would seem like I have the job in the bag, right? (Editor’s Note: Hey that’s only in our baseball fantasy league… and in that rivalry, I’m the nail and you are the hammer.)
Tap the brakes slightly. I know that the recruiter wants to add me to his stable of consultants, so that he could place me somewhere else, even if this position didn’t work out. Flattery is a great way to do that. So at this point I was cautiously optimistic.
We talked about rate, and I negotiated a rate of $5/hr higher than what the recruiter suggested.
Fast forward a few weeks. I made the initial cut – the company wanted to interview me the next day. Another person from the recruiting agency called me to go over some of the aspects of the position and to let me know what to expect during the phone interview. I printed out my resume and some cheat sheets, and did some prep. I was definitely ready for the phone interview the next day.
Early the next morning, I get a call. The company actually wants to interview me on-site. OK, that’s an unexpected change, but I can handle it. My ability to use my cheat sheets is now gone, but I can show my flexibility by acting like the change is no big deal.
I get dressed up in my suit a get ready for the interview. I jump in the Elantra and head to the employer’s site, about 20 miles away. A few miles before I get there, I stop for a pee break to make sure I won’t need one during the interview.
I arrive about ten minutes early and walk to the security desk. While they try to contact one of the managers, I make small talk with the two guys at the security desk. It’s always a good idea to be friendly and polite to everyone you interact with, regardless of how inconsequential their involvement in the process may seem. (Tip to employers: ask your security desk personnel how interviewees treated them. If they acted like arrogant asshole to the people at the security desk, that might be foreshadow future problems.)
Two of the managers were in the room and a third was going to dial in. The remote manager was a few minutes late, and they apologetically scrambled to reach her. I just sat back and smiled like it was no big deal. If you get upset about a slight delay during the interview, that isn’t going to reflect well on you. One of the on-site manager had forgotten to bring a copy of my resume. I came prepared and pulled out a copy for her.
Once everyone was online, the managers each took a few minutes to describe the work their teams were doing and the challenges they were facing in the future. It was pretty informal, and they seemed very sincere and forthcoming. I definitely got a good vibe.
Then it was my turn. I was asked to give a brief description of my experience. They asked for more information, but it definitely seemed like more of an information sharing session than an interrogation. In general, I tried to incorporate the ideas of adaptability, teamwork, and customer focus into as many answers as possible.
At one point, they asked “How would your team members describe you?”. I immediately responded “bald”. Amid the laughter, I took a few seconds to compose a serious answer. Not only had I bought some time to come up with an answer, but I had created a memorable moment. My chances of getting forgotten amid the stack of candidates had been greatly reduced. I was no longer a random interviewee – I was a guy who had made them laugh.
I was caught by surprise when he hit the end of the scheduled time. The interview was flowing very well, and the time flew by. In general, I have a difficult time meeting new people, but it felt like I nailed this interview.
We spent a few minutes wrapping things up. The two managers discussed which of them should walk me back to the security desk. Even though it was out of the way, they both ended up accompanying me, and we made small talk on the way. When we reached the security desk, they continued the conversation for a few more minutes. They seemed to be in no rush to get rid of me – something I took as a great sign.
It’s been a week since the interview at this point.* I’ve made a trip to the recruiter’s office to sign NDAs and related paperwork. The initial expectation was that I would know something by now. Surprise, surprise – there have been delays in the process, and it will probably be another week. They are bringing on a couple dozen people at once, and the process is taking longer than expected.
So, at this point, I’m waiting to hear back. You’ll find out the result in the next article in this series.
* Editor’s Note: This was submitted on December 22, so some time has passed, but things don’t move fast this time of year.