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IT Project Manager Interview
The process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Kohl's in April 2008.
My original phone interview went well and I was encouraged. I submitted a very generous schedule during which I could interview, which included over 30 hours per week of time when I was supposed to be working at my current job. I was stunned when I received (via e-mail) a detailed, half-day interview schedule for a time that I simply could not make it. I was very cordial and replied via e-mail stating I could not make it. I also called and left a voice mail message for the HR assistant. I received an e-mail stating that they would reschedule. I again submitted a very generous 30+ hours during 1st shift (including evening hours and early morning hours) of when I could come into interview. I again received a detailed, half-day interview schedule for a time I could not make. After I left a message for the assistant, I received an e-mail with the rationalization that this was the only time the interviewers could all get together. I simply could not jeopardize my current position. There were obligations at my then current job I simply had to make. I phoned the HR manager at Kohl's, the person with whom I had the original telephone interview. I explained my position, she was understanding and did reschedule for a time I could make.
I went on the interview and it went well. I was asked for five professional references, at least two of them would have to be former managers. I had been with the same company for 15 years. There was only one manager for whom I used to work that had left the company. I was unable to locate a manager from my job back in 1992. I'm not even sure that would be relevant. I had to contact a manager at my current employer. Fortunately, I have excellent references with my managers. I was able to confide in a previous manager that I was looking outside the company. Although he was sad that he had nothing open in his area, he said he would gladly provide a reference for me. The reference process involved filling out an extensive questionnaire on a website. That process took about 45 minutes. My answers to the questionnaire were then compared against answers from my references. At a second interview, I reviewed the reference checking with who would have been my new manager at Kohl's. I've never known a reference check to be more in-depth. On the one hand, I was impressed that Kohl's wanted to know specifics about my work history from people who witnessed it first hand. However, I was not happy that I was asked to find two former managers, in spite of my circumstances. I was also not happy with how much effort was involved for my references. I felt that the Kohl's manager spent too much time face-down in the results of the reference results (which included numbers, graphs, etc.) and not enough face-up time with me.
Ultimately, I was offered a position, which I turned down for another offer that came in about 2 days after the Kohl's offer. Although I am a computer professional with a great deal of logic ability, I am also highly intuitive. I had a negative feeling about the hiring manager. That's really unusual for me. Additionally, laptops were not standard issue for the job. Working from home was "something they were looking into".
I give my employer a great deal of flexibility: t-cons at 6am for over-seas collaboration, working at night when projects warrant it, and basically being available almost all of the time to connect remotely with the office to solve a problem or work on something. In exchange for this, I will attend my child's music program at school during the middle of the day. Perhaps I might leave work at 2:00 p.m. for an obligation. I am looking for flexibility, in return my employer gets certainly more than 40 hours per week and someone who is there just about 24/7. My track record (and references) show that. My work style was a boon to my previous employer and continues work very well for my current employed. It did not see any evidence that that was going to work at Kohl's.
When I declined the offer, Kohl's was genuinely interested as to why I went with the other offer. I spoke with the HR manager at length. There were many small things that led me to accepting the other offer. I did mention that the schedule flexibility at Kohl's seemed a bit rigid. I think under slightly different circumstances, this may have worked. I interviewed in 2008. Perhaps their issuing laptops now or allowing more flexible schedules. I'm still torn about the in-depth reference process.
- In general, the most difficult questions came when I was responding to comments about my reference checks. Basically, why would one person say this, and another person say something sort of different. View Answer
I received an offer from a company that was much more organized in contacting me and setting up interviews. My new employer was much more flexible with hours (start/stop) and occasionally working from home when required. Salary was not a consideration. Unfortunately, I would have rejected the offer from Kohl's even if it were for more money.