Getting an Interview
Getting an Interview
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Food Technologist/Nutritionist Interview
I applied online. The process took 1 day. I interviewed at Puratos (Groot-Bijgaarden (Belgium)) in February 2011.
Background: I interviewed at Puratos for a nutritionist/food technologist position. The position was working with a new team to analyze bread and pastry products that the company sells. My position would be to perform nutritional audits for the products; develop healthier products; give presentations to corporate clients on food products, or brief other departments about nutrition trends; provide research and background on certain items; consult with clients to develop foods based on food trends within the country, and to develop a communications strategy to disseminate nutrition information, health benefits, and related info to the public, and to internal and external departments. Interview: Before attending the interview I took a personality assessment (1 hour) online. On the day of my interview (lasting in total 5 hours), I spent the first part with the nutrition manager. After, I took three timed business-style exams. Then, I met with an HR rep to discuss my personality assessment. Interview breakdown: During the interview I was asked about my past work experiences, my degrees and certifications, general background questions, short and long-term goals, management style, and working style. When talking about past work experiences, I often felt cut off, or felt the manager wanting to move through her question check list, sometimes pausing to ask a direct question. Overall it felt like the manager was there to ask questions, and my role was to just answer them. It felt very closed and one-sided. There weren't many follow-up questions other than clarifications. Near the close of the interview, I asked the manager if I could meet my potential colleagues, and see where I would be working. The manager found this request puzzling. It is entirely plausible that this is a cultural difference that I hadn’t thought through, or that being a first interview, that it’s not expected. In my past positions in the US, I was always introduced to the team I would be working with (on the first interview), and they would often interview me as well. It felt like Puratos wanted to interview me, ask the questions, get the answers, but provide little on selling why I would want to work there. Next were business "pre-GRE" style exams. They had prepped me by telling me that I would have a series of tests to pass. I spent the weeks leading up to my interview prepping for topics that I thought would be experience-based (nutrition analysis, menu analysis, writing a report, recommendations, etc). The exams were timed logic exams, and math graphs on business expenditures. It made me feel very discouraged and really frustrated. It would feel fair if it was topic based, or they were using it to assess my nutrition knowledge, but it wasn't. Since a large part of the job was developing a communications strategy, it seems that this should have been the topic that would have been the most valuable to assess. In fact any topic that would have assessed my nutrition knowledge would have been valuable. After the exams, I met with an HR rep to discuss my personality test. The HR rep had a printed sheet with my responses, and then asked guiding questions about the topic categories (e.g. leadership, stress management, anxiety, helpfulness). For instance, you answered “a” to category “b” and I see that you must have difficulty with “c, d, and e.” After I realized we would be going through the entire sheet in the same way, I listened attentively, and tried to give satisfactory answers, but encouraged them to check with my references to really get a good overview of how I function on a day-to-day basis, under stressful situations, and how I organize my work life (funny they didn’t ask this in the interview!). My interview lasted 5 hours without a break or lunch break (and they are a food company!). At the close of the interview, they told me that the next steps would be a call back, presumably the second round of interviews, and that I would be expected to give a 15-minute presentation on any topic of my choice (naturally I had thought communication strategy!). Conclusion: The interview was conducted in a professional manner, but I was disappointed with the ways Puratos chooses to assess their future employees. From the time I applied, I heard back from them within two weeks of my application date, for an interview. They got back to me within one week to schedule the second round of interviews, and decided to not move forward with me.
- How would you develop a communications strategy on the nutriton departments (e.g. foods, trends, information) for our internal and external departments? How might they be alike/different? Answer Question
- 1) what steps would you take if I had a deadline to complete by tomorrow and I needed help completing it? Or How would you organize your schedule if I needed something done before “x” day and “y” time? Answer Question
- Describe what food technologies can be employed to make foods healthier, and what role do they have in foods? (e.g inulin, probiotics, soluble fibers). Follow up questions can include what types of foods would be potential markets? Answer Question