Something New? International Entrepreneurs!

The job ad title caught my eye:  “Highly paid part-time interviewers and reviewers.”   And the subtitle:  “Looking for overqualified interviewers and reviewers.”  The Canadian company was recruiting for “well-educated individual[s] looking for a home-based, steady, enriching job.”  Furthermore, “this is not a telemarketing gig.”  The right person has, among other attributes, “a probing mind and [is] genuinely interested in continuous quality improvement.”  The tone of the ad was appealing, but I had missed the deadline for the interviews, as they were sending a team to Burlington (from Montreal) on the very day that I saw the ad.

I sent them an email with my resume attached.  “…Although I have missed your interviews this weekend….I would like to express my interest…”  The response was quick, with a request for a phone interview.  However, I had just left for a ski vacation.  After exchanging eleven more emails over eight days we finally connected for the phone interview on a Tuesday.  That went well. An interesting company, expanding by leaps and bounds, looking for fresh talent in Vermont.  It then took another seven emails to set up a face-to-face meeting in Burlington on Friday.  In the meantime, I had referred a friend of mine, who had a good phone interview as well and was also invited to Burlington.  We planned to drive up together.

The carpooling fell through, but I was able to arrange another meeting elsewhere for the same day, to make the drive worthwhile.  I had carefully planned my time, parking the car behind my daughter’s house in good time, and walking briskly through a cold wind to the Hilton, where we were to meet in the lobby.  I walked through the lobby a couple of times and didn’t see any likely Canadians.  Just as I pulled out my phone to check for messages it rang.  They were stuck at the border and would be late.  I walked back to the car (to access the apartment wifi), and then returned to the hotel.  I had plenty of work on the computer to keep me busy, but I was concerned about the time because of a dinner engagement later.  Another call came, just as my friend showed up for her interview (which should have been an hour after mine), so we knew they were almost there.  The pair eventually appeared, over an hour late, the company founder and president, a Canadian man, and my original phone interviewer, a Finnish woman. They made their apologies, divided us, and we got going, each in a corner with a couple of armchairs

In spite of the delays and disruptions, the interviews were good.  I met with the woman first, and she had good follow up questions that probed my skills, interests, and experience.  Theoretically the interview should have included a practical test, but she couldn’t get the computer connection to work.  Then we switched, and I met with the company president.   It was obvious by his astute questions that he had done his homework and had either had a good briefing or had listened to the tape of my phone interview.  There was no time wasted on typical interview questions, chatting about transferable skills, or engaging in self-promotion.  We quickly moved into the big picture.  He talked about the company, their product and services, and their successes.  I presented the ideas I had been thinking about since the phone interview.  It was exciting and stimulating.  At one point he exclaimed that I was an entrepreneur (which I have never been called before), and later he emphatically stated, “I like you.” And then the time was up, as the next interviewee was in the lobby.  They were off on business to Asia the next day, so a quick promise of contact later in the week was made.  I rushed out to make the long gray drive home.

Later in the week, I sent a follow up email, expanding on my ideas for their expansion.  The president wrote back while in the air, copying his response to their contact in Belgium, and saying he’d be in touch the next week.  The next week went by, and the next.  My friend sent a query, and received the message “got sidetracked and delayed in Asia …., pls allow a few more days. . . . My apologies for not being in contact.”  Our excitement was fizzling and resigned skepticism was growing.

Then, last week, an email came from our Finn.  (Keep in mind that the Finns are known for their introversion and unemotional expression.)  “Firstly, thank you for your patience in waiting for our reply. We have been extremely busy …. the last 2 weeks, a lot of new exciting things happening….. we have just won a contract worth of gold …. our Burlington plan is getting real, so real that we would definitely need the skill-set from both of you to give the project a concrete start. The reality is not so smooth than we dreamed, more like an explosion… In other words, we need to dream while producing results. … If you are in, let’s organize a Skype call as soon as possible to discuss the details.”

Sounds good!  But as of this writing are working our way through another dozen emails back and forth, still trying to set up a time to talk.  “Regards from Singapore.”  “Delayed in Grenoble, needs to reschedule to tomorrow.” “Should be online in roughly two hours.”  “The hotel connection didn’t work.”

As they said at the interview, if they were a big established company, a company rep would have been at the hotel the night before and would have had everything arranged well in advance instead the company president and colleague solving last minute problems, rushing to rent cars, and facing visa problems at the border. Instead, they are in the midst of constant growth, apparently running around the world trying to juggle multiple projects, and having trouble communicating clearly with the people they may soon depend on.  We’ll see if they can “dream while producing results.”

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