So the field of eight got whittled down to two candidates. Next steps… We would have to interview with the CFO (the overarching head of our department) and with some of the managers in the merged department we would be supporting.
Once again, I used my time-tested preparation methods. Clear your head and just go in. The interview was more of a conversation. Our CFO is smart, and his questions were probing and required long answers with details from the breadth of my work experience. Seriously, for one question the only relevant experience I had was from the early 90s when I was still working at ye olde bank ops center. I hadn’t thought of those events in ages, and my presentation of them probably wasn’t the best.
For other questions, I was able to use more recent experience at ye olde newspaper. And in a couple of cases I was even able to use my current job as an example. Still, this was a tough interview and it had me on my toes the entire time. Originally, the interview was only supposed to last 30 minutes, but it took nearly an hour. I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. I think I answered well enough overall, but there were a couple of my answers that left me scratching my head and thinking for the rest of the day.
A few days later, the other interview was scheduled. This was the first of the interviews that I actually prepared for. My preparation consisted of running a report to see how many open tickets each of the two departments had currently for Reporting. Between the two, the list was somewhat extensive (some would say daunting). More than I had actually expected. For a split second I thought… “What am I getting myself into!?!” I read through the lists and made some mental notes just in case questions were asked related to them.
I was to meet with four of the managers in the merged department. Two from each side. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. After the very different formats of the two previous interviews, I was pretty much prepared for anything. Fortunately, they had prepared some questions… and this was going to be a more standard interview.
Throughout the back and forth of the interview, I felt I had answered all of the questions really well. I mean, when people are nodding their heads in favor of what you’re saying, it seems like you’re hitting it out of the park. Then one question was asked and I drew a complete and utter blank. It was like my brain was finished. The odd thing is that it should have been an easy question for me to answer.
I don’t remember the exact wording, but the gist of it was… “Describe a time when you explained a complex subject to an executive. Try to explain that subject to us.” I mean… this is my bread and butter. I do this all the time, but for some reason I couldn’t think of any specifics. After a couple of stutter-stops, one of my interviewers threw me a lifeline by reminding me that I had described a complex situation earlier in the interview. Whew! But it was a weird moment for me that left me wondering if I had left a bad impression at the end.
I was on pins and needles for the next two days, wondering which way the decision would go. Do you know how hard it is to get work done when you’re on pins and needles? Don’t get me wrong, I got work done, but it was really hard to concentrate. I kept revisiting questions that had been asked. Were my competition’s answers better? Meanwhile, my workmates kept needling me about the new job. (I don’t think a person has ever been called traitor and Benedict Arnold more than I was over that week).
Finally, late one afternoon, I got an e-mail from my boss. “Come to my office, please.” I would love to say ‘you could have smelled the rubber of my soles burn on the carpet as I dashed to his office,’ but I took the elevator. When I arrived he asked me to sit. Braced for the worst, I heard… “Do you want this job?”
Confused for a second, I asked, “What?” He repeated the question. To which I finally responded, “Yes!”
I was shocked, giddy, and scared all at the same time. I got it!