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What do you do when the person you are scheduled to interview with bails and has your future peers and directs interview you instead in a 15 on 1 in a conference room?

Years ago, I applied for a senior manager position with a company managing web content delivery. The job was reporting to a director. When I arrived for the interview, the director's admin met me, said that the director was unavailable, and that I should sit down for a moment and wait because they were putting something together for me.

Fifteen minutes later, I was escorted into a conference room to sit at the head of a large table with about 15 other people. They were going to be my peers and my directs. All of them had been given my resume and one of my past performance reviews (the job was an attempt to move inside the same company).

I don't agree with how I handled it at the time. What would you do when faced with this situation?

ashdenver's picture

Granted that it's probably a different dynamic when it's an internal panel like that rather than a different company. 

I've been faced with a panel interview before, sprung on me quite suddenly.  I applied for a job within a school system, as I recall, and I interviewed with 11 people at once, all seated around the oblong conference table, and a secretary taking shorthand in the corner of the room. I took a deep breath, smiled and faced my "accusers" with as much dignity as I could muster and endured the 90 mins of grilling. 

Ultimately I didn't get the job -- I got the "we've hired someone internally" within 48 hours so my bet was that there was some requirement to make all job postings available to the general public and go through the motions of "looking for the best candidate" even after they'd already decided on the internal person they were interested in.

What would be odd would be the inclusion of the past performance review.  If anything, I'd ask for a copy of it and a moment to refresh myself on the particulars within the document.  The resume, after all, is something I had come prepared to speak about.  It's only common courtesy to offer preparation time in a situation like that.  (I'm pretty sure this would be the point where the defense attorney would ask His Honor for a brief recess.)

Out of curiousity and with hindsight, how did you handle it back then and what would you have done differently now?

Mark's picture

US41-

But we've done that cast...?

http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/12/how-to-handle-a-group-interview

Am I missing something?

Mark

blondi16's picture

Yes

US41's picture

What threw me was that I was set up to be interviewed by people I would be managing if I got the job.

 

Mark - it is not unusual to have people interview their future boss?

 

 

Mark's picture

No, not especially.  It's not terribly effective if the interviewers are individual contributors and have not been trained.  But most interviewing is not terribly effective.

It doesn't change the interview notably, either.

Mark

US41's picture

Mark: As I expected and I agree.

Ash: What I did then was become surprised, and then I expressed that surprise. I ended the interview immediately. The next day, the director phoned me to find out what had gone wrong. She apparently was also surprised that I didn't approve of the interviewing conditions. We had a conversation that ended with her apologizing and me stating that I did not want to work for someone who would skip her own interviews and delegate them out to a dozen people without giving a heads up. 

I had an opportunity to impress 15 people and make a director a friend - even if I didn't get a new job. I instead decided to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and piss everyone off because my pride hurt.

That was a long time ago.

What would I do today? Smile. Sit forward in my chair. Show high energy. Be prepared. State my significant accomplishments. Wear a suit. Know my resume. Close, close, and close. Basically, I would do this.

 

tlhausmann's picture

A group interview with your future directs is very common in higher education circles.

asteriskrntt1's picture

Just curious US41

What brought this up?  Are you thinking this is about to happen again?

 

US41's picture

Nothing in particular brought it up. I just re-listened to the interviewing series. After finishing it, I remembered this event and everything that I did counter to the advice given there.I thought it would be good fodder for discussion.

basking2's picture

I'm glad you did bring it up! I hope to be going to one of these, though, presumeable for team-fit purposes than strictly technical evaluation. I've already had two explicitly technical evaluations.

Great timeing. :) Thanks.

Sam