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back to article FIVE DAY tech job interviews on trial at Oz telco Telstra

Australia's dominant telco, Telstra, has revealed that it's trying out job interviews that run for five days. At the Agile Australia conference in Sydney yesterday, Telstra CIO Patrick Eltridge told his interlocutor in a Q&A session attended by IT News that the company has conducted six such interviews so far, resulting in three …

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Anonymous Coward

Diabolus in singulis est

You know, on the surface of it, it doesn't sound like that bad an idea.

Who hasn't been annoyed by the "Tell us of a time when you..." and "How would you deal with..." questions and you scramble around for one of the myriad times that might or might not be applicable to what the interviewer wants to hear at that very moment?

More than once I've wanted to go "How about you put me in that situation and I'll show you?"

Surely, as those questions are ALL based on daily real situations, it should be no problems for a giant like Telstra to expose you to one during the 5-day procedure, right? Right?! They wouldn't ask them if they weren't based on reality, I'm sure.

<going to crack my face trying to keep it straight>

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Anonymous Coward

Five day job interviews.

Sounds like something thought up by human resource psychologist, designed to delude the recruit into thinking the long hour low pay job is valuable. Somewhere during the interview process the interviewee should ask, if this is such a good job, why did the last fella leave?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Five day job interviews.

Sounds more like something they've copied from Google, who have a famously long interview process, which I'd suggest borderlines on bullying rather than actual interview.

If you need 5 days (or up to 13 interviews and tests in the case of Google) to interview someone, you are not a very good interviewer.

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Meh

I see their point, however...

I dont think I could afford the 5 days off from my "existing" role just to be on trial at a new place.

I understand the rationale for this type of evaluation, and is more effective than a 60 minute session where one can say any sort of shit that they like to get past and as such hired, but then again, isnt that why companies have a six month (or whatever) probation process, in addition to performance reviews?

On another note, I was interviewed by Facebook (yes, THAT Facebook) for a role a while ago. I was in the States and went through the most intensive interview process ever, it was a multi-hour process with about six different interviewers all putting you through the wringer, both technically and HR-ally (I made that word up, deal with it). I see the merits in this process too however by the end my brain was about as much good as Annabel Chong's vag after her little escapade in 1999.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I see their point, however...

"I dont think I could afford the 5 days off from my "existing" role just to be on trial at a new place."

No one could. I suspect those applying are on the bench for one reason or another.

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Silver badge

Re: I see their point, however...

In which case, wouldn't it be a good way to spot talented people who have been "benched" due to bad luck, rather than consigning them to the waste bin? (Although, in the UK, the bureaucracy of signing off and signing on again would mean need you'd need to be paid - promptly and above the minimum wage.)

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Anonymous Coward

Wow!

My first thoughts were that this reminded me of the old SED Boot Camps that EDS used to run back in olden times.

As a low level PHB, my second thoughts(*) were that Telstra must have plenty of HR people with very little to do if they can afford to spend five days on interviewing one person. Yes I know it is probably more complicated than that. I'm just jealous. It takes five days just to get the attention of HR iat my employer.

(* as a low level PHB I don't have much else in the way of thoughts.)

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Devil

Re: Wow!

It is not just that. Five days of cleaning aegean stables in the field is one thing.

Five days coding, working in R&D or doig architecture is another. There is the obvious question - who owns the IPR from that as you are still contractually bound (with IPR clauses) to your previous job. Personally, if anyone will suggest that process to me I will tell them to f*** off. I have had ideas stolen from me as a part of "elaborate interview process" more than once (so had my SWMBO).

There are whole geographies which have made "IPR theft" from candidates into an art form. Certain swampy area north of London famed for its electronics and biotech comes to mind as a prime candidate. There are others as well.

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Bronze badge

Cor, this takes me back to the balmy days before July 2001...

...when an interview for an open-ended ASP/javascript contract paying the equivalent of 100K a year would go like this:

Ring ring.

"Hello, who is it?"

"Er, <voice off: he can talk, it's amazing!> Fancy a new contract in <city>? You're hired!"

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Anonymous Coward

seriously...

I suppose the obvious answer is to say yes, I can do a 5 day interview. I call it a pilot, my usual approach is to charge a day rate and then subtract that from the project cost if you decide to go ahead. That will be £3,000 plus travel and expenses please.

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FAIL

Seriously?

This will just put off a majority of candidates. Many of whom are intelligent enough to not want to waste 5 days of their lives on an HR-circle-jerk.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Seriously?

And there you have it:

The company thinks that they need the best candidates for the job, so an in depth time consuming interview is required.

The interview takes so long that most competent potential applicants won't apply because they're not going to waste 5 days of annual leave.

The company get less qualified candidates, who struggle at the interview process.

The company think that their interview process is appropriate, because the highly skilled techies find it difficult, therefore they have to go to these lengths to get the right people for the job.

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jai
Silver badge

Where i work, if someone turns up in the morning wearing a suit and tie they're always greeted with a cheery "interview or court case?" welcome. And then if they take a longer-than-usual lunch hour, you suspect it was the interview option.

But now, whenever someone books 5 days leave, you won't know if they're taking a much needed break in the Lake District or applying for a new job!

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Anonymous Coward

They used to do something similar regarding Management Training Programmes...

I got called up to Nissan in Newcastle after Uni for something similar.... They got us to play teamwork games for several days. I think there was about a dozen of us, but none got the job that I recall.... This type of screening is not that unusual, but I'm no fan anyway....

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Anonymous Coward

Perhaps they could just spy on you in your current job.

Body worn cameras?

Then you wouldn't need to take another 5 days of work.

Although in my line of work they probably wouldn't have the clearance to spy on me!

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Very cunning Telstra

What a great way to get five free days of work out of potential candidates!

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Silver badge

I've been watching that plumber for half an hour ...

... and he hasn't done a stroke of work.

The irony being, of course, that neither has the watcher.

You've got to wonder with a 5-day interview how many assessors it takes to keep an eye on the candidates and whether the amount of time these people spend on selecting just a single "winner" would be better spent on something else: like going on a course to identify high quality staff in a 5 minute chat.

> to assess candidates in more detail than is possible during a conventional interview

You also have to wonder what sort of critical position these people are being employed for. Surely with that amount of investment in the recruitment process and the costs involved they must be highly paid, highly visible staff who could make or break the company in the years to come? You wouldn't take that much time to just employ a support person, would you?

However, since the candidates are also assessing the company during this time, I would expect that all of those who had any level of experience would quickly see through the charade and correctly conclude that Telstra was over-bureaucratised, slow and lacking the ability to make decisions. They would therefore run screaming from the interviews and consider how lucky they were to have dodged that particular bullet.

It does sound more like a test of endurance (or desperation) than skill.

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Anonymous Coward

When I worked for Bass Taverns we had a full day interview which at the time I thought was a bit much. It was segmented with stupid bloody "apprentice" style tasks and an interview at some time during the day.

However it was actually a great process, as they got to see how you solved problems rather than just giving bullshit answers on how you problem solve. On that occasion I got away with a lot as I didn't have the background in pubs compared to a lot of the applicants. Although I don't know how I would feel about a whole week.

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Bronze badge
WTF?

‘learning on the fly’

" a specific skill set, such as ‘learning on the fly’."

Hey I've got that!

I'm absolutely F%%king briliant at it.

Trouble is every job I've ever seen seems to want "already learned stuff"

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Joke

Slogan

"Our interviews are so in depth, they'll make your hole weak"

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Silver badge

Civil Service Commission

Civil Service exams in the UK used to be something like that. Several separate exams, meetings, evaluations and exercises, followed by an interview. There also used to be the notorious "country house weekend" where candidates' social poise and manners could be assessed. But those were leisured times...

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Re: Civil Service Commission

Ahhh the CIvil Service Entry Exam... now those were the days...

In my distant past I attended one of these in St Denys (nr Southampton)... what a monumental waste of a day!!

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Re: Civil Service Commission

Some government departments still do this (yes Home Office, I'm looking at you among others). It doesn't matter how good you are, how long you've been doing your job, everyone has to go to a "selection event" which consists of hours of prep beforehand around a scenario, a verbal grilling around ther scenario, and a written exam. The written exam may or may not be relevant to the role you are going for, as it's generic to grades within a wide area e.g. everyone in the non-technical (e.g. PMs, PMOs, BAs) areas going for HEO or SEO grade appointments does the same exam.

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Anonymous Coward

I attended...

...one of these week-long selection sessions for a job with a certain defence contractor. It was excruciatingly, mind-scrambling, unbelievably tedious and boring. All the normal lectures, exams and role-plays, observation tests, problem scenarios etc took place. We started at 7:30AM sharp and finished around 8:00PM, plus 'homework' for the next day. After two days I had enough and went to the guy running the show and I told him that the whole process was ridiculous, far too long, had absolutely nothing to do with the job on offer and if it was an example of how the company operated, I thought I was wasting their time and and I was leaving. Shock, horror - he offered me a job on the spot!!! I turned it down.

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Thumb Up

Re: I attended...

Reminds me of the selection test in the 1st M.IB movie and watching all those stiffs in uniforms trying to complete the paper resting on their knee...

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Boffin

Re: I attended...

Maybe they were specifically looking for people with the brains to know the interview was bullshit and the balls to say it! They finally found you and then you turned 'em down! Yeesh... ;)

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Thumb Down

Bonkers

5 days of interviews isn't a job application process, its a consultancy assignment. I'd hand them an invoice at the end of the week.

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Anonymous Coward

5 days is silly

When I applied for IBM I spent 2 days at interviews, the first day was several interviews to be shortlisted and skills analysed to see if they fit the applied for role, the second one was a group interview day to make sure I didn't bite/punch/get generally stabby and played well with others - I thought that was a lot but it was a decent opportunity and as I was at Uni and got offered free food it wasnt so bad and a couple of days off wasn't exactly a stretch but how the hell are you supposed to sort that much time out if you wanted to apply when in the real world? It's not like you can go for a sneaky "doctors appointment".

If Telstra weren't such a bunch of ball-scratching idiots I could possibly consider that they are trying to pioneer something - however in this case I'll pass.

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