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Are conventional interviews a thing of the past?

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
18,816
Points
69
I've been doing the interview circuit again. I'm finding that the long-established tradition of having a phone interview, followed by a real interview, seems to be falling by the wayside.

Of the interviews I've had so far ...

* The first involved a live interview, where I would be interviewing with the PC, a staff member, and a planning commissioner separately. At the end, I would be meeting with all of them. At the same time, two other people were being interviewed, so essentially the agency was interviewing three people simultaneously. I'm being invited back for yet another live interview next week.

* The second was a phone interview, which lasted about an hour. On Friday, I'm visiting for a live interview, with an audition and writing exercises.

* A couple of weeks ago, I had a phone interview with another agency. This was followed by an e-mail writing exercise, where I had to reply to some questions regarding economic development policy within an hour or so. If all goes well, I'll be called back for a live interview.

So ... are these unconventional job interview procedures now the norm? What other interview techniques are planning agencies using?
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Mine have mostly started with a phone interview, followed by an in-person interview. Usually there are only 2-3 people conducting the interview, but I have had some that involved multiple department heads, mayors, city council members, etc. The most unusual one lasted all day and brought all four applicants together to go out to dinner. About half of them involved some sort of writing exercise, either ahead of time or on-site. The most interesting thing I found is that very few ever bother to check references.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
Mine have all been very conventional (and fruitless). Maybe the positions you're applying for are more responsible or attracting people on a national scale so they do more to whittle down the pool?
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
Points
34
As the job seeker:

First job 1990 (where I interned). Interview was a formality.

Second Job 1993. One live interview with City Administriator, Engineer, and Econ Development guru. Job offer 2 days later.

Third job 1998. Developer recruited me away so it doesnt count.

Fourth job 1999. Live interview with Mayor, Council President, Finance Director, and Plan Director from the town next door. One week later had a second interview with the same panel. Job offer 2 days later.

As the Employer:

I have hired two people in the last three years. In both instances we had a panel interview followed by a test of computer competency. I have always asked for writing samples to be submitted with resumes.
 

pandersen

Cyburbian
Messages
243
Points
9
My interviews have been a mixed bag. some involved a phone interview with a follow-up "in person" performance. Others have been onsite from the get-go.

In my current position, I interviewed over the phone for a mid-level position, never heard anything for several months and then was contacted with an offer for a senior position with no additional interview at all. Go figure.

While were on the subject of job hunting, in your opinion, where do you consider the best place to be looking for a senior planning position in the U.S.A. right now - Northeast, Southwest????
 
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prudence

Cyburbian
Messages
688
Points
20
By video

I had a video-conference interview last week...I can see this become the preferred method for initial interviews out-of-state.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
The craziest interview I ever had was with the City of Lacey, WA.

It started with a 12 person panel interview on ethics (I think it was their whole ethics commisison) and then I shuffled off to the technical interview panel consisting of one of the other planners, the planning director, two out of town planners and some HR person. Based upon those interviews you got a call that night and were told whether you need to come back the next morning (which I did).

The next morning was the impromptu speaking test: a mock city council meeting (which I have talked about before), and then into a real site plan review committee meeting (with real developers) and we were expected to give off-the-cuff remarks about the project, and then into a one-on-one with the assistant director and then the director. It was a circus! After leaving the two-day long sessions I was wondering why they would need such a process. If the interview was that insane, did I really want to work there? Luckily I placed #2, so I didn't have to contemplate it.

The day after the Lacey interview, I had an interview with Oak Harbor. One interview that took no more than 45 minutes. I was offered that job the next week.

Otherwise, I have done everything from standardized tests with 200 people in a room, a scantron form and a number 2 pencil (City of Napa), telephone interviews with no in persons (got a job offer with them never even meeting me... ended up turning it down), etc.

This job I have now was a phone interview (with a timed written response... where they e-mailed me a written question and I had 30 minutes to answer it and e-mail it back) and then a final in-person interview. I think this was typical of most interviews I've had...
 

SkeLeton

Cyburbian
Messages
4,853
Points
26
nerudite said:
This job I have now was a phone interview (with a timed written response... where they e-mailed me a written question and I had 30 minutes to answer it and e-mail it back) and then a final in-person interview. I think this was typical of most interviews I've had...

Wow talk about unfair... what if there was a power outage and you just couldn't send the e-mail? or What if you have internet access problems due to your shitty ISP?

A face to face, mano a mano interview is far more fair than that!
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
SkeLeton said:
Wow talk about unfair... what if there was a power outage and you just couldn't send the e-mail? or What if you have internet access problems due to your shitty ISP?

Funny you should mention that. I was using DSL at the time and my internet went kaput on a regular basis. It so happens it went down for five minutes right when I was e-mailing it back. I called the HR receptionist in a panic telling her that my dsl went down. Mid-phonecall, it went back on and she verified the receipt. I was so nervous!

In some ways I think I had the advantage on the written exam though. I had access to Provincial law (via the internet), I had spell check (something I need quite often as most of you probably know by my posts!) and also, I type about 70 wpm, which means I probably had a lot more detail to my answer than those that had to write long-hand. I probably would have done okay in person, but handwriting things really limits me because I write so slow now...
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
SkeLeton said:
A face to face, mano a mano interview is far more fair than that!

True, but the writing tests and phone interviews do work well to screen candidates down to finalists. The interviewers do not want to pay to fly out a dozen candidates, of if they don't pay, you don't want to eat the cost unless you are pretty close to getting an offer. I have run into a handful of communities that make planners, even at a management level, take a civil service test. Oh, sure, I'm going to drop $1000 to fly into Nevada to take a test to make me eligible to be considered for a job - NOT! It seems like a good way to screen out the best candidates and be left with only people living within a short drive.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
My recent job interviews.

1) Phone interview, first one ever. Hated every moment of it and did not get the job. Later found out the interview process was a formality, they were hiring from within. Another odd thing about this interview, about 2 months after the interview they called and asked if I'd like to interview again for another position. I declined.

2) In person. Drove down to it because of interview 1. Three staff, had them eating out of my hand, felt I did great, no job offer.

3 -4) Phone interviews. Went well then nothing came of them.

5) They called to try and set something up, but refused to budge on the schedule. They wanted me to come up to Ontario (14 hour drive) on 3 days notice and miss the CIP conference. They said they would get back to me and never did.

6) Phone call to set up the interview, a kind of pre interview. We discussed a few things, then mutually agreed not to waste eachother's time.

7) Phone interview, went rotten. The people on the other end difficult to talk to and it seemed like they were trying to piss me off. Have not heard back from them, don't expect good things.

8) Interview that is scheduled. Written test 30 minutes then interview in person is the process that has been described. Wish I had booked it for sooner,to get it over with, but they were so accomodating to my needs it works better for me. I also don't think I could have handled waiting for a few months after an interview to hear the decision.

No interview I've had in the past year, outside of the province, has offered to bring me in on their dime.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
I once interviewed for a position as the planner for a town I resided in.

Out of fairness to all candidates near and far (their explaination), they only did phone interviews.

Bizarre!
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
donk said:
No interview I've had in the past year, outside of the province, has offered to bring me in on their dime.

Good point. I have found that the Midwest and Northwest are the places most likely to pick up all or a portion of the tab for flying out candidates. California seems never to do it. I have less experience with the Northeast and none with the South.
 

tsc

Cyburbian
Messages
1,905
Points
23
I don't think any government jobs in the NE will pay for you to come in unless it is for the top positions.

I have never had a phone interview... and I have changed jobs 3 times in the last 6 years... but in the process hadabout 8 interviews.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
A little OT but has anyone had a job interview that involved violence? After getting a BA in Psychology I worked at a few group homes part time. At an interview for one of them we kept getting interupted by one of the residents who was screaming and acting up. He was so bad the employees had to restrain this huge guy for a long time while I'm sitting there in my tie (hey, I didn't work there yet). I decided the place wasn't for me. :)
 
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