by Byron Connolly

Telstra to put job applicants through five-day interview process

Jun 20, 20132 mins
CareersIT LeadershipTelecommunications

Want a job at Telstra? Be prepared, you might be put through a five-day interview process.

In a bid to create a more agile workforce, Australia’s largest telco is trailling five-day interviews for potential candidates for IT-related roles across the organisation.

During a QA-style interview at the Agile Australia conference in Sydney on Thursday afternoon, Telstra CIO Patrick Eltridge described extended interviews as one of the telco’s local “innovations” to improve the recruitment process.

“Learning agility is absolutely paramount and that’s bounced around as a phrase for years but really we need people who are not going to come into a [job] situation with years and years of functional expertise and know how to solve a problem. We’ve got to find people who can come into the room and say ‘what does the customer want?’ and be curious and be receptive,” he said.

“It’s hard to suss that out in a 45-minute interview. So, we created a five day ‘immersive’ job interview.”

New applicants join a working group completing field work and are monitored for five days by “metaphorical guys in white coats following them around with clipboards”, Eltridge said.

“One of the people who went through that process before we made any job offers…at the end of the five days one of the people said: ‘I don’t know if I am going to get this job; I hope I do because if I don’t, you have ruined me for any other sort of work. I seriously don’t know what I’ll do if I don’t get this job.'”

He told CIO Australia that Telstra had trialled the methods with six job applicants so far with three being employed by the telco.

The trial recruitment program will be extended to potential candidates for more senior IT roles inside Telstra. For these roles, Eltridge said the company was prepared to reduce the process to three days.

“People who value the opportunity of what we are describing will absolutely sign up for three days, I know I would,” he said.

Eltridge said the telco planned to roll out the new extended interview process for hiring more broadly across “other teams”.

“That was our proof-of-concept as we scale this into a prototype we will now work across other lines of business within IT and at more senior levels,” he said.