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Tuesday, 21 August 2007 12:49

Project Manager/Consultant

Written by  Robert Rojas
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This is an article about the interview process and a recent job seeking experience of mine. I am interested in finding out how often a scenario such as this takes place in today's environment. Is it something that just happens on occasion or does experience, age, communication skill, etc. influence the situation? Your comments are welcome.

Thursday May 3rd 2007:  I receive an a LinkedIn email from a recruiting firm that specializes in providing Property & Casualty Insurance Companies with professional service staff such as project managers and business analyst’s.  His client a leading global firm that provides software solutions to the Property & Casualty insurance industry is in need of a Sr. Project Manager to lead a client initiative implementing their solution. It’s felt that my insurance and project management background makes me an ideal candidate and warrants further discussion.   

Friday May 4th: I reply by email and set up an interview for the following Monday. 

Monday May 7th: After a lengthy discussion its felt that there is a strong initial match and that the hiring process should move forward. A conference call between the recruiter and client (VP of Operations) was tentatively scheduled to take place in a day or two to discuss in more detail the job description and how my skills and experience would fit in. In the meantime it is decided to conduct a recruiter/candidate “drill down” session after the conference call to determine a mutual fit and interest. The recruiter is cordial and maintains a professional demeanor creating a positive atmosphere. The job description is emailed to me for my review.    

Wednesday May 9th:  The conference call takes place. Both client and recruiter feel my background and experience makes me an excellent fit for the Sr. Project Manager position. The recruiter sends an email telling me he wants to go over additional details and set up a call with the firm founder before presenting me to the client. An hour or so later another email is sent requesting more detailed information. I’m also asked to call the recruiter after reviewing his email. A thank you email with the latest version of the job description and a reminder to review the client website is also emailed.   

Thursday May 10th:  By 7:30 AM PST my email answering all the recruiter’s questions has gone on its way. We also have a phone conversation to clarify any outstanding issues.  Another email makes it to my inbox asking me to call the firm founder for one more conversation to get all our ducks in order. Then it will be time to present me to the client. I make the call and my debriefing goes well. To my surprise the client has requested we interview that afternoon. I agree and the interview takes place and lasts for about an hour and a half. A good sign I thought.  As expected, part of our discussion went over my insurance or business expertise and my project management or technical experience. It was made clear by me that my primary strength was on the business side. This surely was the part of the interview where I would be told that my skills are excellent but are not right for this position or so I thought.  It turned out that my passion about my insurance experience came out during our conversation and impressed my interviewer so much that he suggested an alternative position or role within the organization. It was a surprise but I looked forward to further discussions. Everyone loves passion.

Friday 5/11:  An email from the recruiter comes to my inbox letting me know how excited the client was about the interview and establishing a new role for me. He asks me to call on Saturday if necessary to debrief and set up an interview for Monday 5/14 with the Vice President of Sales. Thanking me for a job well done was a nice touch and keeps the process positive.  After a conversation and an email on Friday and Saturday we come up with a list of available times for the interview with sales.  

Monday 5/14:  Two more emails and we confirm the sales interview for Tuesday 5/15 at 3:00 PM PST.  

Tuesday 5/15: The morning agenda includes four emails and a phone conversation to go over client issues and re-confirm the interview with sales. The interview turns out to be short and uneventful. It was apparent that operations had not communicated with sales about establishing a new position for me. Sales thought it was an interview for the project manager position. In any event the Sales VP expressed to me that this was the obligatory sales interview.   

Wednesday 5/16:  A thank you email to sales goes out along with an attachment of a National Underwriter article about my previous insurance experience. The client expressed a keen interest in the article so out it went.  

Thursday 5/17:  Additional attachments of the article are emailed to the recruiter and client. The Vice President of Sales sends an email thanking me for the article. The recruiter emails a thank you for the article and lets me know that he has not received any feedback from the client. Apparently both vice presidents are traveling so a response may not be coming anytime soon. This is a bad sign.  

Wednesday 5/30:  Almost two weeks go by before an email from the recruiter shows up advising me that the client is still interested in continuing the hiring process. The client is apologetic about not being proactive and becoming a bottleneck to the process but is enthusiastic about my candidacy. He would like another interview then if all goes well a face to face.  

Thursday 6/7:  An email arrives from the recruiter letting me know that the client is still interested but due to time and resource restraints has not been able to move forward. The client has expressed that he would like his Team Lead from the project site to call me directly to set up a time for an interview. I’m asked to be on stand by to make sure we move forward with the interview. The idea of being on stand by bothers me. Why can’t the Team Lead pick up the phone and make the interview arrangements right now? Another recruiter email arrives and lets me know who will call and what type of product knowledge they are looking for. I’m also reminded that if the client calls and I cannot make the interview to politely suggest an alternative date. There must be a concern I might be rude because of something I said or because the process is taking so long. Or maybe it was just a comment. I’m getting into this email thing and send the recruiter a thank you note.  

Monday 6/11: The Team Leader from the project calls and wants to know if it’s a good time to talk. I politely suggest an alternative time and we move forward with the interview. It turns out to be an informative interview as the team leader gives me a clear picture of the culture at the project site. Shooting by the hip with no training is the norm. There have also been four different project managers on the project.  This is worrisome. A thank you email goes out along with my debriefing to the recruiter. The founder of the recruiting firm sends me an email wishing me good luck and asks for any action items that may have come from the interview. I answer back with an email.  

Tuesday 6/12:  The recruiter sends an email letting me know that the client is meeting with the team lead this morning and if all goes well the next steps will be in place by this afternoon. I am also being asked to interview with the Vice President of Sales for a second time. Tuesday 6/26:  After two weeks an email shows up from the recruiter letting me know that the second interview with the Vice President of Sales is not necessary. It was forgotten that this interview already took place. Organizational skills may not be the one of the client’s strengths. There is good news however. Apparently an HR consultant working from the client’s USA Home Office has been assigned to work with me to speed up the hiring process. I’m asked again for my availability for phone interviews. The HR consultant calls to give me the latest scoop. There is still a strong interest in continuing the hiring process. She apologizes for any inconvenience and slow progress but assures me that upon the clients return from London the pace will pick up. Apparently there will be a presentation to the executives in London to validate the new position and explain why I should lead it. Things are looking up.  

Saturday 6/30:  An email arrives at 7:30 AM to let me know that things are heating up and the client would like to speak to me sometime over the weekend or Monday. The purpose of the call is to verify that we are on the same wave length in regards to the new job description. There will be a series of meetings next week and the client will press for a decision to hire me. In the meantime I’m asked to give the recruiter a set of times that I will be available.  I let the recruiter know that I am available on Saturday morning before 11:00 AM and all day Sunday and Monday. I’m on stand by again. It’s my fault for not asking for a specific interview time.  

Monday 7/2:  A call is expected on Sunday but never comes. I advise the recruiter by email that there has been zero contact with the client. My recruiter sends an email to the client asking for an update. He also assumed a Sunday call would take place. When you think about it why wouldn’t there be. It was the client that came up with the days he was available. The recruiter gives me the client’s cell phone number and suggests a follow up call. Now I’m following up on when the client is supposed to call me. And here I am thanking everyone by email for being on stand by for the weekend. I place a call to the client on Monday and leave a message.

Thursday 7/5:  The recruiter sends an email asking if the client has called. I let him know by email that there have been no phone calls from the client. He is also advised about my call to the client’s cell phone on Monday. There was never a call back.  

Wednesday 7/11:  I email the HR consultant for an update. The message comes back undeliverable. The consultant’s email address was correct so I assume she is no longer employed by the client.     

Wednesday 7/18:   An email suggesting a time and date for the client interview is sent to me by the recruiter. This is the interview that was supposed to take place on 7/1.  Another email gets to my inbox letting me know that the client has now asked the HR Director in their UK office to set up a phone interview with me and an Israel team member. The client calls and we agree that his vision of the new position is what I thought it would be. I’m excited about the job description and look forward to moving on with the process. In a nutshell this position would require me to work with project managers and executives on the worldwide delivery of company software products. It would be nice if there were some type of documentation. After nine emails the tentative time and date for the Israel interview is Thursday 7/19 at 6:00 AM USA Pacific time. There is never a confirmation from HR so I have to assume that the interview is on.

Thursday 7/19:  At 5:59 AM an email confirming the 6:00 AM interview is sent by the recruiter and delivered to my inbox. It turns out that the interview will be with the CIO of the company. I’m waiting in anticipation; and waiting, and waiting, and waiting. It is now 8:00 AM USA Pacific time and still no call. I put in a call to the recruiter and advise him that direct communication between me and the HR Director is appropriate and a call is expected. She calls within the hour and apologizes for the mix up in time zones. She blames the recruiter and lets me know that a call will be forthcoming in ten minutes. A mix up in the time zones? What is difficult about understanding 6:00 AM USA Pacific time? Blaming the recruiter in my view was inexcusable.  

The culture is becoming clear. Shoot by the hip, no communication, zero training, and if something goes wrong blame someone else. The call finally comes and it’s the CIO and he immediately asks permission to call me back in five minutes so he can finish the phone call he is currently on. Had I not been in a state of shock shutting down the interview would have been my initial response.  

As it was I said ok and he called back in about ten minutes. It was standard go over your CV until a series of short buzzing sounds from his end made it impossible to hear each other.  Finally we were cut off and I waited for a call back. He calls back but half way through our second conversation the noise starts back up and we are cut off again. He calls a third time and somehow we get to the question and answer part of the interview. Then the bombshell comes.

He asks if I have any experience as a developer. It’s always been made clear throughout this process that I have a business and not a technical background so there was surprise on my part. A sinking feeling in my stomach came over me and I knew the game was up.

The CIO who had not spoken to the USA office about the new position because he wanted an unencumbered outlook (his words) wanted a technical person the whole time. In retrospect there should be no surprise here. From the beginning there was never any communication within the client organization.  

Friday 7/20: After fifty nine emails, phone calls to numerous to count, and seventy seven days the client calls to tell me that he was not aware his boss wanted a developer for this position. It’s ironic that when the time comes for bad news the follow up call comes the next day. The client also wanted to let me know that he has not given up and will try convincing his boss to hire me on a contract basis to validate if I am the right person or not for the job. That was the recruiter’s idea. The client wants me to tell him whether to move forward with the idea.  

Monday 7/30: There have been no further conversations with the client or the recruiter.

Read 8008 times Last modified on Sunday, 13 December 2009 18:34

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