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Old 03-31-2003, 03:23 AM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Beyond Varallan
Posts: 1,868
Advice wanted: They're re-advertising a job that I interviewed for

I recently interviewed for a job as the director of a volunteer organization on my campus. There weren't many candidates that applied for the position (four), and three were interviewed.

I had an interview for the position, and they have decided not to immediately hire anyone - they're going to re-advertise the position and see if they can attract new applications.

I feel that I am very qualified for the position. This is also the opinion of the great majority of the people who volunteer with the organization (I've volunteered there for several years). I have relevant work experience, but it's not like I'd need an MBA or something - the organization is part of the Students' Union at my college. All of the positions are filled by students, and people usually haven't had a great deal of managerial experience before they get the job. So I'm thinking that it's not my work experience that's hindering my application.

Right now I'm feeling pretty discouraged, but I had a talk with the person who would be my boss if I were hired, and he enthusiastically supports me for the position and wants me to reapply. He felt that I didn't interview as good as I would be for the position.

The interview was a panel interview with six interviewers. Only two of them know me personally - the boss that I mentioned and the man who currently holds the position I'm applying for.

Basically, I've decided to apply again, and I'm looking for advice. I've never had this experience before - usually I'm just offered the position or someone else is.

The hiring committe will most likely be the same as before, and they're not yet sure how (or if) they're going to change the interview questions, which are usually the same from year to year.

How hard is it to make a new impression on them? Should I use a different approach in the next interview? Should I make reference to the previous interview? Try to clarify and/or discuss any questions that I might have flubbed a bit the first time through? Any advice for panel/committee interviews in general?

Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated.

Old 03-31-2003, 07:47 AM
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Australia
Posts: 377
Hmmm. Well, I hope you don't mind me jumping in here, but since no-one else has answered you I'll give it a shot. I work for a Government organisation in Australia with very strict rules about how we are allowed to recruit, so your experience is likely to be very different. I suppose my advice is worth what you paid for it. :-)

Having sat on a fair number of interview panels in the last few years, I do have to say that the most likely reason we'd readvertise a position was because the candiates we had weren't what we were looking for. In order to save everybody's time the new ad would say something like, "previous candiates need not reapply".

Rarely a position will be withdrawn and readvertised because of some internal politicing about the position itself, in which case there's be no reason why previous candiates couldn't reapply.

However, if someone on the panel is happy for you to reapply, and you're sure they're not just being kind, there are some things you could do to improve your chances next time.

If you think you missed out because you didn't interview well, then you're quite entitled to go back to the panel and ask for some feedback on your performance. We have to take copious notes about each candidate because they have a right to come back to the panel chair and ask for feedback.

Maybe ask the person who you've been talking to already about what you could do better in an interview. Were there questions you answered badly? Were there things they were looking for that you didn't provide? Try and get some idea of what you need to improve upon.

Can't hurt to ask them what they're looking for in a candidate, they'll probably answer in general terms, but you'll get a few clues.

Bear in mind that panels will ask the numbers of people the same questions over and over and it gets very tiring. If you can answer questions intelligently, succinctly and without excessive waffle the panel is likely to remember you with gratitude.

Possibly your comment about lack of managerial experience in previous directors is a clue...volunteer organisations need really good management skills because they're working with such a wide range of different people with different committments and reasons for being there.

One thing which is worth considering is how you positioned yourself with regards to the organisation during the interview. I've struck this a lot with people applying for jobs which are taking them from project work up to the next level of management. A significant number of candiates haven't made the intellectual leap to thinking in terms of big picture/policy/stategic directions which managment requires, and tend to answer questions from the "shop floor" perspective.

When we're interviewing for managment-type positions we're really looking for people who've started thinking in terms of policy and direction rather than individual projects or jobs.

If you think this might be an issue with you, you could go back and rethink the questions in terms of how you would answer them from a management perspective. Imagine you were the director of this organisation, what would be the issues you'd have to deal with? How would you manage it? What things need to happen/be changed/improved/removed?

Whether they ask the same questions or different ones next time, the questions will cover pretty much the same ground, so you can start thinking about your replies before the interview. You might expect, for example, a question which asks about your experience. Think about an answer which illustrates you in the role of management, even if you have to stretch a bit. :-)

If there are selection criteria for the position even better, you have a big clue about what the panel is looking for, and you get the opportunity to present those parts of your experience which answer their needs.

You might want to revisit your resume, make sure that it reflects the kinds of skills you're going to need as director of this organisation.

If you get a second interview treat it as a whole new deal. You might say something such as "thanks for interviewing me again", but otherwise treat the second interview as the main event. You didn't get the job last time, so referring to the previous interview isn't likely to be helpful.

Sorry this has been so long, I'm prolix at the best of times.

Good luck!

PS Hello SDMB...I've been lurking for a long time, but this is first time I've had something to say which hasn't already been said, and better. I think I have the hang of the rules, but I beg your indulgence if I've managed to get it wrong.
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