05 January 2011

First Phone Interview

Note: This is in the series of blog posts I wrote about my preparation to move to New Zealand, which is finally happening this Friday! The original date stamps will give you an idea of how time-consuming migration takes. The 'New Zealand' tag will bring up all related posts.

[Originally written on 18/9/2010]

Last Thursday (16 Sept) I managed to have my first ever international phone interview. It's remarkably rare for NZ employers to hire from abroad, but I guess the fact that this organization is a well-known multinational had something to do with their hiring culture.

I applied for a couple of roles on their Careers website about a month back. Then last week one of the HR personnel e-mailed me to find out more information about my interest to work with them. Soon after that, she suggested having a phone chat, ever mindful of the 4 hour time difference between us.

It so happened that 16 Sept is a public holiday (Malaysia Day), so I promptly arranged to have the call made at 8am Malaysia time (12pm NZ time). I was extremely nervous beforehand and couldn't really push my breakfast down. 5 minutes before 8 I stopped eating and sat patiently in front of my iMac, handsfree properly attached and thumbs nervously twiddling.

Sharp at 8am, the phone rang.

The night before, I spent some time preparing outlines to some common questions. Standard issue questions like, "Tell us about yourself", "Why do you want to work for us?", "In your CV you mentioned experience with abc. Can you describe more about that?"

However, I forgot to prepare for the most obvious question of all: "Why do you want to move to New Zealand?"

Let's just say I managed to give a minimally satisfying answer.

It did unnerve me a little for the rest of the interview, but I kept my cool throughout the other tougher questions, like: "Describe a situation where you had to cooperate with people outside your department", and "Describe a situation where you gained the trust of your customers".

We ended 15-20 minutes later (I lost track) on a very good note. I made sure I smiled and kept myself sounding casual and relaxed. She did the same. She described the roles available in more detail and said she'll get back to me in a week after talking to the hiring teams.

One of the main points we talked about was my availability. They wanted someone pretty quickly, and with their standard notice period being 4 weeks, I could understand why. I assured her that I could come over as soon as I served my 2 month notice here, and she seemed understanding.

So now it boils down to a waiting game, and if they are interested, the pay negotiations. The job is based in Christchurch, where living costs are lower, but life is dead-er. There's a reason why its moniker is the Retirement Home of NZ!

Still, it's pretty miraculous that an Asian like me could be offered a job while abroad, so I'll very likely take the offer. The job sounds fun and I feel more secure starting in a large organization where there are more concrete processes in place and I'm less likely to be scammed than working in a small software shop.

If I ever grow tired of Christchurch (let's ignore the possibility of earthquakes shaking things up), I'll probably move up to Wellington before Auckland. That way I would have had the chance to see the entire country.

A bit early to fantasize, I know. But I've come so far in my dream and the pieces are starting to fit. It's hard not to fantasize =)

[End of original post]

A few weeks and many follow-up mails following the phone interview, the hiring manager said that I wasn't qualified enough for the role. Even so I still kept a good tone with the HR contact and hopefully it will yield something in the future. As of now though, I'm moving to Auckland and trying my luck there!


Corelle Tumpap said...
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Ryan said...
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