My name is Alison and I am a 26-year-old master of business administration graduate, currently working in global supply chain management, for a large manufacturing company. (I prefer to keep my last name, image, and current company information anonymous to avoid noncompliance issues with company policies.)
My undergraduate degree is in management with a minor in technical sales. I have four years of experience in retail sales/management, and have also held positions in proposals and outside/territory sales.
My interview process with FedEx began in early 2010 after an unexpected layoff from my sales position at the time. I had been looking through online job postings on corporate websites for large companies in my area, when I noticed the opening for an entry-level inside account position with FedEx. I submitted my resume and the requested information through a standard online form, which was very similar to that of other corporate websites.
I was contacted by e-mail approximately two weeks later with an invitation to an hour-long online webinar. This was my first experience with something like this in a job-interview setting. I called into the conference line and logged online to view the PowerPoint presentation, where I was joined by 10 other applicants. Three FedEx representatives hosted the webinar and presented a detailed summary of job expectations, compensation, training and future opportunities within the company. I found the webinar very informative and worthwhile. It really helped me to fully understand the opportunity before moving forward with the lengthy interview process.
Later that week, I was contacted again by e-mail to fill out a second, lengthier online application and complete an online assessment, both done from home. The application itself wasn't so bad, but the assessment was certainly more intense than I would have expected. The first part was a personality profile with general questions, nothing out of the ordinary. For example, one portion of the test was a check-box list of approximately 50 personality traits, where I had to select those I felt best described me.
The next page asked which traits others would use to describe me. I finished up this part of the exam in about 30 minutes and assumed I was almost finished. I moved on to the second part, which was even more time-consuming and consisted of questions somewhat like what you'd would expect to find on the SATs. Luckily, I still had my graphing calculator from college! I kept asking myself, "Should I have studied for this?" I finished up in just over an hour and crossed my fingers that I had "passed."
The phone interview
Approximately one week later, I was contacted by phone to schedule a telephone interview with two sales managers. I prepared by reviewing my notes from the webinar (a good tip, by the way) and practiced sales interview questions I found through searches online. I was caught by surprise, however, as the conversation immediately began with salary expectations. The managers candidly voiced their concerns that the base salary would be well under what I had listed in the application. I chose to continue, despite my own concerns.
Thankfully, the rest of the interview went great, as I was well prepared. I was grilled about my sales experience and strategy, and finished with some situational/behavioral questions. The interviewers asked very direct and complex questions; at the same time they were very honest and helpful in completely answering any questions I had. I hung up from the call very optimistic that I would be called back to be interviewed in person.
An on-site interview
I was invited to FedEx's corporate center for the on-site interview 10 days later. A human-resources manager e-mailed me a packet of information. I read through the attachments and was quite shocked at the list of preparation assignments. I was expected to create an effective sales plan, based on the provided data, for a given sales territory. The presentation was limited to 10 minutes with a mandatory PowerPoint element.
The packet also mentioned that I should prepare for behavioral interview questions, and another research assignment where I would have only 15 minutes with a laptop to answer several questions based on a given scenario. I'll be honest: After reading through all of the requirements, I was seriously wondering what I had gotten myself into. I was more intrigued than anything, and decided to go for it. After all, I already had several hours over the past three weeks invested in the process.
I arrived on site with a soft copy of my presentation and two hard copies to give to the two hiring managers that greeted me. These hiring managers, by the way, were different from those I had spoken with on the phone. I dressed in a black suit, crisp light-colored blouse and black high heels. I found my attire was simple, professional and appropriate for the environment. I waited several minutes in the reception area before the two hiring managers brought me to a somewhat large conference room with a projector.
After a brief introduction, I was asked to immediately begin my sales-plan presentation. I felt comfortable as I spoke and confident in my findings. The two managers asked a couple questions afterward, and asked me to open up one of the original spreadsheets they had provided me. They asked me approximately 10 questions -- an oral exam of sorts -- to test my PC skills. I was able to answer easily by filtering the data in the spreadsheet. The second part of the interview involved the behavioral questions mentioned in the packet. I was well prepared, again having practiced using sample questions from the Internet. I was relaxed and ready to move on to the home stretch, the "on-the-spot" presentation.
The two managers handed me a small packet and left the room for 15 minutes, allowing me to use the laptop to research and prepare my second pitch. I was basically asked to look at several potential FedEx customer websites and outline a sales strategy. Specifically, which FedEx products and services to sell, as well as an explanation as to why I chose those particular products and how how I would go about doing so.
The 15 minutes seemed to fly by, and I felt I did the best I could. The two managers seemed neither impressed nor disappointed in my findings (as was the general tone throughout). The interview drew to a close and I asked the several obligatory questions and thanked the interviewers for their time. I left the site feeling slightly confused and overwhelmed. I followed up the next day with personal thank-you emails to each manager, and reconfirming my interest in the position.
The entire process took just over one month. I had never read about or experienced anything quite like this before, having taken many human resources classes in college and even going on many interviews myself. Unfortunately, I received an automated e-mail response two weeks later thanking me for my time and informing me that another candidate had been selected.
In the end, I was thankful for my experiences during this process -- for practice makes perfect, right? I would recommend other job seekers to apply with FedEx. I've heard only positive things from friends who have worked for the company. The intense screening process must bring in the best, most-qualified employees, making it a great place to work. I hope through the experience I've shared, I am able to save any of you future applicants from the initial shock of the intense process. My most important piece of advice is to be prepared, and then prepare some more!