Backroads Interview Questions

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  1.  

    Trip Leader Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Application Details

    I applied online – interviewed at Backroads in April 2013.

    Interview Details

    The Backroads hiring event is a challenging day consisting of lots of public speaking and evaluations of your interpersonal and problem-solving skills based on situational cues. Other than the public speaking perhaps, it is not something you can really "study" or "prepare" for. You need to naturally project the leader image, conduct yourself professionally and approach solving people's problems as a capable and kind human being. Have fun with it and respect the other candidates in your group.

    Interview Questions
    • Silly group problem solving exercise that involves performing some arbitrary physical puzzle with an object as a team.   Answer Question
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
  2.  

    Guest Service Representative Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Berkeley, CA
    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Berkeley, CA
    Application Details

    I applied through an employee referral. The process took a weekinterviewed at Backroads in March 2013.

    Interview Details

    I applied online at the recommendation of an existing employee. I received a call from the company asking if I would be interested and offering to setup an interview. I was brought in for an interview with the Director of Sales & Marketing or Sales & Support. In addition, a Senior Guest Services Rep was present. They had very structured questions, very specific to Backroads. I found some of them difficult to answer with no background in their procedures and policies. They all came from a check list the director had. The Senior Rep never spoke, smiled, or in any way participated. It was weird to know someone so cold was in a senior service role. There was an easy Math test. He said, "People ask if they can use a calculator. I guess you can but it's pretty easy." All of the questions were easy percentage conversions, exchange rates, and price differentials. Not using a calculator seemed like a pointless exercise. They said they'd get back to me the following Wednesday and the training would start the Monday after that. I indicated the short time frame would not work for me but would love to work there if they could adjust. I was called the on Tuesday. They had moved on with more qualified candidates.

    Interview Questions
    • An angry customer calls. They can't go on their trip. They want their money back. What do you do?   View Answer
    No Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Easy Interview
  3. 2 people found this helpful  

    Trip Leader Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Application Details

    I applied online. The process took 2+ monthsinterviewed at Backroads in April 2012.

    Interview Details

    By far the oddest interview I ever had. The online application and initial phone screen where fairly straightforward and standard. It was the in-person, “group” hiring event that was the odd and challenging part. If you are an aggressive, “look at me” type, that likes attention, you may naturally do well in this part of the interview process. The hiring event does not at all feel like an interview about you as a person or potential Trip Leader, but a test on whether you can stand out in a crowd and/or have a strong personality. There were about 36 people at the hiring event I attended.

    After checking-in in the courtyard, and mingling with others over bagels and coffee, candidates gather in the garage area for “Introductions.” An overview of the company is given, the staff introduce themselves (about 10 were in attendance and sat in the back of the room with clipboards), and then Tom Hale gives a welcome and says a few words about his vision and expectations for the company. Next, Trip Leader candidates take turns going to the front of the room and introducing themselves in 2 minutes. Directions for the introductions are to tell a little about yourself and a story of someone who has inspired you. I suggest sticking to whatever they ask. Be unique here. This is your first chance to shine with your personality and presentation ability.

    Next candidates are divided into three color groups, with two Backroads staff members each, and taken to different locations for the “Skill Sessions” which included changing a flat tire in 5 minutes, group problem solving activities, and role plays. The two group activities were the most frustrating part of the hiring event, especially the Helium Stick activity, which I had heard of before, but never seen or experienced. What stood out to me during the two group activities (especially the Helium Stick) was a lack of teamwork spirit by several of the candidates. These people where so loud and obnoxious, I think a few of us decided it wasn’t worth it interrupt or try to over talk them and share our input (I even noticed some of the top candidates holding back). I finally did speak up when there was a moment of silence to make a “group dynamics intervention,” but I highly doubt the Backroads staff recognized it as such. While I can understand the company is looking for “leaders” (and we were competing for a job), I think they might fail to understand that the best leaders are not necessarily the most talkative or loudest. Great leadership, team building, and providing exceptional customer service includes awareness and making practical, helpful interventions as needed. Following the group activities were role plays in which we all sat in a circle and the Backroads staff directed trip scenarios to specific candidates. After that person answered, other candidates could also provide a response. Here again you see some of the same people always speaking up and dominating the conversations. Go with your gut here and throughout the hiring event and be aware of your level of participation, whether it is too little or too much. You need to be seen of course, just make sure that when you do talk, those times have value and substance.

    Lunch was busy with multiple activities going on at once… foreign language fluency for some, one-on-one interviews for others, roaming Backroads staff members talking with candidates, and a bike skills test. I was only asked to take the bike test, which consisted of a bike with 5 things wrong with it that I had to identify. I found it odd that at no time during the day did anyone meet with me one-on-one to ask me why I wanted the job, discuss my strengths and trip leading experience, how I would provide an unforgettable adventure for guests, etc. etc. Basically, what you would normally expect and experience in any other in-person interview for a company.

    After lunch, candidates met back in their color groups for the “Public Speaking” presentations during which Trip Leader candidates took turns giving their “Orientation Talk” or “Route Talk” in 2 minutes. The invitation to the hiring event gives clear guidelines for this talk which you will prepare beforehand and bring with you.

    The day ends with a Backroads video, Q&A session, details about what to expect after the hiring event, and some paperwork. It is a long 7 hour day, very interesting, kind of fun, and probably worth the travel expenses if you get hired. Hope this helps. Good Luck.

    Interview Questions
    • I was surprised that there weren't really any interview questions at the hiring event. Only opportunities to demonstrate your public speaking skills, work in a group on two brainteaser or problem solving activities, and demonstrate your bike mechanic skills. No questions about your values, work ethic, leadership skills and style, customer service knowledge, etc. I don’t believe these were even discussed during the phone interview.   Answer Question
    No Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Average Interview
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    Trip Leader Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Berkeley, CA
    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Berkeley, CA
    Application Details

    I applied online. The process took 2+ monthsinterviewed at Backroads in January 2012.

    Interview Details

    You submit an online application, which will receive a response within 2 weeks. An internal reference is really helpful, as Backroads is all about hiring people recommended by other leaders. If you make it past the application (and pass their backround and DMV check), you get a phone interview. After the phone interview you may be invited to a hiring event along with 30-50 other applicants. The hiring event is all day, and you are required to give speeches, participate in team building activities, performing bike maintenance (know how to change a tire in under 5 minutes), potentially taking language competency tests (French, German, Spanish, Italian, etc), and respond to customer service scenarios. Lunch is served mid-day, and it would really benefit you to mingle with some of the interviewers and make yourself seen. It is easily the funnest and most terrifying interview I have ever been to. The following day you get a phone call telling you if you got the job. After that, you go to a 2 week training program in Salt Lake City, Utah, for a trial period before leading trips.

    Interview Questions
    • I think one of the most difficult aspects of the interview process is avoiding being too cliche. A lot of people come in and talk about how much they love to travel, and how many places they've visited, but this is exactly what you don't want to do.   View Answer
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
  6. 3 people found this helpful  

    Trip Leader Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Application Details

    The process took 4 weeksinterviewed at Backroads in March 2008.

    Interview Details

    The entire interview process consists of, in this order, a rather detailed application, a phone interview and finally an in-house/on-site (Berkeley, CA for US applicants) all day group interaction/assessment. You only move on to the next step if you pass the current step.

    Application-
    Detailed background, a few essay questions, driving records, letters of recommendation (all can be seen by down loading the application from their website.)

    Phone Interview-
    Fairly straight forward, 15 minutes or so. They want to hear your voice, get a sense of your personality, discuss you background, and assess you for the on-site group assessment. The call ends with an invitation or "we'll get back to you", in which case, you didn't pass.

    On-site-
    1)You are on your own to get there and for lodging! 2) This is all group evaluation! 3)They are looking for LEADERS.

    Despite Backroads saying they are a flat, very open organization, they still operate like a big company and to wit is the way they conduct their interview process. Most obvious of this process is the on-site group evaluation. It wreaks of corporate consultants and human resource experts. This isn't a bad thing, but if you have been through a major corporations hiring process, especially consulting firms, airlines, cruise ship, Disneyland, etc., it's clear you aren't really in a new-world touchy-feely organization. This is as corporate a hiring process as there exists. It's highly planned, highly evaluated and scrutinized. Even the evaluators have to be trained to hire personnel, this is signature corporation.

    Once you get there, coffee and bagels, then a short introduction and an exercise called the "Helium Stick" (or other names.) You can look this personality test up on the Internet. This is followed by group introductions where you present yourself to the group and answer a question, something of the sort, "Tell us why you are interested in this job" or "Something unique about yourself." Try to avoid sounding like Buffy by saying you just love travel or it's your destination. DUH! That's why everyone is there. Get more in depth.

    This is followed by smaller group Q&A or more appropriately, role playing. They will give you a scenario and you play the tour guide. If you can think about customer service and find a way to get to "yes", then stay home. A sample: A guest buys too many bottles of wine to carry on their bike and asks you to go back to the winery to pick it up and bring it to dinner. What do you do? Of course you can go pick it up! They are paying you for a trip of a lifetime. You damn well better figure out how to make it happen. Sample #2: Your co-leader is tired and asks you to take over some of their duties, you are already swamped with your responsibilities. What do you do? First - KEEP IT PRIVATE! Don't ruin anyone's vacation with your problems. You explain to your co-leader they have duties to do and should keep to them. If they are insistent, then perhaps you may have to do them to keep the trip flowing smoothly, and have the discussion afterward, perhaps bringing in a manager. Bottom line, you have guests to care for.

    Later you move on to other human resource exercises - changing an inner tube blind folded and getting directions from 3 or 4 others, one sentence at a time. If you are the blind folded person, this means they already like you or you are out of the running. If you are the others giving instructions, one short command at a time, then you are definitely being assessed on how well you can organize your group, how accurately you can condense information among or leader qualities.

    At some point you break for lunch and someone may come around to test you on either you foreign languages or some other situational role. You might even have to go prove your bike mechanic skills, so brush up.

    Remember they are looking for people with personality, who can manage a group of guests for a week on a bike tour and almost always be able to anser "yes." (One of the few "no" answers is that they may not ride without a helmet. Period.) This requires you demonstrate your LEADERSHIP skills. If you don't have them or can't stand in front of a group and talk, then don't waste you time applying even if you are "destined to travel." Maybe so, just not with a tour company.

    Interview Questions
    • Lots of role playing and getting to "yes". See the detailed interview process description.   Answer Question
    • Be ready with a good story about yourself to present to a group of 40 or so people.   View Answer
    Negotiation Details
    Negotiation? HA! You want to travel? You take the job. You want to paid? Look somewhere else. It's a take it or leave it offer.
    Accepted Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Average Interview
  7.  

    Trip Leader Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Application Details

    I applied online. The process took 2+ monthsinterviewed at Backroads.

    Interview Details

    Resume and cover letter, phone interview in english, hiring event, training block. Start in late november, early december and goes until March.

    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

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