Background: In March my employer was acquired by a larger company, and in May I was terminated due to headcount reductions implemented by the acquiring company. I circulated my resume to nearly 200 contacts, and found another position within a couple of weeks. Fast forward to last week. I was contacted, completely out of the blue, by a large software company based in the Pacific Northwest that shall remain nameless :) I had pursued a couple of positions there back in May when I was actively looking, and they still had my resume on file and matched it up to their current openings, hence the contact last week. So last week I had the initial phone screen with the recruiter, which went very well, and she scheduled a phone interview with the hiring manager. The phone interview was this morning, and that seemed to go well too. Within an hour of this mornings phone interview with the hiring manager I was contacted by the recruiter informing me that the hiring manager would like to have a face to face interview next week. She also told me that the hiring manager has asked me to prepare a 30/60/90 day business plan and send it to him 1 day before our face to face interview next week. I only spoke with the hiring manager at a high level about the details of the position that I was being interviewed for (it was only a 30 minute call and most of that time was spent discussing my background). The face to face interview is obviously where we will get down to brass tacks and disucss the role and its expectations in detail. So I'm struggling a bit with the content for the 30/60/90 plan, and I'm hesitant to ask the recruiter for more information because I'm quite certain that I'm specifically being given limited information in order to see what I can come up with. So, asking the recruiter for more information would likely be a strike against me. Has anyone ever run across something like this in an interview, and do you have any suggestions?

See Manager Tools' guidance on Interviewing here.

TomW's picture
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For some reason this touched a warning nerve with me... like they are trying to get free work out of you.

Maybe I've been reading Craigslist too long...

jclishe's picture

[quote="TomW"]For some reason this touched a warning nerve with me... like they are trying to get free work out of you. [/quote]

I would highly doubt that they are trying to get free work from me. This particular role that I am interviewing for is a very mature role within the company, and they probably have hundreds of employees through the firm in this role. This is a Fortune 100 company and I'm pretty sure that they don't need interviewees creating their business plans :)

But I do know that I am in competition with at least a few other candidates for this position, so obviously I will be evaluated on the creativity and thoroughness of my business plan as compared to my competition. They are all in the same position that I am - which is creating a 30/60/90 business plan with only having been given limited data, so I'm looking for pointers that could help to set me apart from my competition.

asteriskrntt1's picture

Oh, this is a perfect question for JHack to chime in on.

When I have interviewed and ASKED the company what they expect of me in the first 30/60/90 days, I almost always get this answer:

First 30, learn your way around. Get familiar with people and processes, roles, language, culture and resources. Lend a hand on some small initiatives, go to LOTS of meetings.

First 60, start taking ownership or limited ownership of smaller projects, learn about bigger initiatives. Go to lots of meetings and run some of them. Build more relationships.

First 90, primed to start making independent decisions (as much as one can make independent decisions in a large unnamed software company in the Pacific Northwest :wink: ) and start taking a fuller leadership role. Lean on some of those relationships you have built and start being a resource to others.

I realize this is not a business plan per se, but it is a business plan to be the employee that this company wants to hire. Basically they want to see that you have a plan and an idea of how you will go about being a good fit as opposed to just stating "I know I will be a good fit".

Good luck


*PS - How is Winnipeg treating you? Aren't the leaves amazing?

jclishe's picture

Thanks! These are excellent points.

I also thought that baking a SWOT analysis into the first 30 day plan might set me apart as well. The role that I am interviewing for is a customer-facing technical pre-sales role, and I will have a sales quota. Therefore, understanding the competitive landscape of the products that I will cover, and developing talking points and counter points around them, will be mandatory. I think framing that within a SWOT analysis would be valuable.

Winnipeg is great, thanks for asking. Matter of fact, I'm writing this from the lounge of The Fairmont. I was home last week and was rather surprised when I got here yesterday to see how quickly the leaves have changed! It's already dipped into the 30's some nights though. Can't say that I'm ready for that yet!

mngreen's picture

Couple of things.

This type of requirement/question is becoming a more frequent screening/interview tool - particularly for management positions.

There are two questions arising from the original post and responses.

1) Regarding "limited information" and what to do about that:

Before anything ... google: "30/60/90 (30 60 90 ... etc) day plan" (or something similar) to help you with a framework for what the likely output expectation is.  Armed with that context, proceed.

If the company wants to see what you do with limited information you have a few options.  The first is to work completely blind.  What's important is that, in your submission, ensure you make your methodology explicit.  State that you are deliberately working blind, since that is what you feel they are asking for.  Then make sure you state all of your assumptions AND point out areas which would require additional information.

Frankly, however, I feel this is the weakest way to approach the exercise.

The second option is to work from publicly available sources - primarily the company's website.  Look explicitly at org charts (to understand reporting and communication relationships), annual reports and/or published business plans.  A secondary source will be any news reports that you can google-locate.  This is particularly important if your new role would be in communications and/or if the company has significant contentious issues.

I like this option much better than the first.  It shows that you are thinking about the company, that you can do relevant research, that you are (at least to some degree) aware of the challenges facing the company and, lastly, that you know how to take some initiative.

The third option is to ask questions.  I'd start with the admin person (if possible) for the manager that is either doing the hiring or who does support work for the outgoing manager.  I've done this many times.  I start with introducing myself and telling them why I am calling - and then asking if I could ask them a few questions.  I keep the conversation very focussed and very short and finish with a thank you and if they might recommend anyone else who could be of assitance.  Usually they will get me a name to follow up with. The cool part is that the name I'm often given is for a manager/director and, when I do call, I can comfortably and honestly tell them "Jane So-and-So suggested that I give you a call".  I don't recall a time where I've ever been given the cold shoulder.

I tend to prefer this option - but that's what works for me personally.  I'm pretty good at finagling that conversation, but if that's not your long suit, you might want to stick with option 2.

Lastly - you can just ask your contact what they are looking for.  It's likely that they want someone who can ask (relevant) questions and it's unlikely you are the first person to ask.  For all you know, part of the test is asking the question to begin with.


2) Regarding "setting yourself apart" ... see above.  :o)

SWOT, PEST, Porter, Contingency or other strategic frameworks are also good ways to set yourself apart.  Just pick the tool(s) that are relevant and useful for the analysis relative to the particular position you are applying for - otherwise they will see it as a heavy handed attempt to impress them w/out regard for the actual utility of the tool you are using.


I know that my post is long after-the-fact for the posts above, but perhaps someone somewhere will find this helpful/useful.