Case Study-An Interview With Shell Oil Company
The Shell Oil company is well known for its human resource assessment methodology, which has proven successful in the identification and selection of candidates for its global operations. Its approach and assessment criteria have been adopted by some government agencies for selecting scholars and public officials. While it is not a financial institution, the experience documented below is the first-hand real life experience of one of the authors that has applicability and relevance on interviewing with global financial institutions.
Case study-The Shell Oil Company Interview Experience
The second largest global oil giant and a Fortune 500 company, Shell is known for its stringent selection criteria when it comes to executive hiring. The interview process of this world-class company is very thorough and demands a lot out of a candidate. The whole experience is exhausting (it lasts approximately 6 hours including lunch) and one has to be very well prepared mentally to perform well.
The setting is as such: The candidate, along with 5-6 other short-listed candidates, is invited to a local hotel/resort/country club for a day. The panel that will be interviewing you consists of senior managers from different divisions of the company.
One point to note for perspective: Through this thorough interview process, the company seeks to employ candidates who can eventually progress to a General Management position in one of the company’s numerous divisions. The various stages of the long process include:
1. Panel Interview. Candidates are first put through an interview regarding ones personal and education background, career objectives, achievements, extra curricular activities, etc. The panel usually consists of senior management from different divisions of the company. Some of the questions asked featured in the “Frequently Asked Questions?section above.
2. Panel Discussion Cadidates discuss with the rest of the short listed candidates. The Human Resource personnel will normally chair this session. Topics are typically general in nature and the key here is to assess how each candidate engages in the discussion process, how nimble is their thought process and their grasp of current issues outside of the normal textbook environment. (Keeping silent and not engaging in the process would be an absolute disaster)
3. Lunch with the Interviewers. Though a free lunch, it comes with a purpose. This session is used to gauge the social and dinning etiquette of a candidate. How he behaves, conducts conversions over lunch, and the obvious table manners. Try not to slurp loudly and stuff yourself too full, as the afternoon sessions are even more demanding and a full stomach will only dull your thought process.
4. Presentation to Interviewers and rest of Candidates. One is asked to give a short 5 minutes speech/presentation on a topic of one’s choice, and to take some questions following that. (there will definitely be some from the interviewers). The purpose of this is to test your presentation skills and presence.
3. 和面试人员午餐：看似一顿轻松自由的午餐，其实是用来评估应聘者的社交礼仪和餐桌礼节。观察他用餐时的举止以及在餐桌上交谈的礼节。 用餐时切记不可发出很大声响或者吃得过饱。下午的面试回合要求会更高，吃得过饱会让你反应迟钝。
5. In-Tray Exercise. Candidate is sited behind a desk and asked to review various memos, e-mails that are in his in-tray. Issues cut across the various functions, marketing, sales, finance, audit, control and human resource. The candidates were asked how they would act and why in every one of the highlighted issues. It is a vigorous and demanding exercise. They focus on how you react under the different circumstances, the decisions made on every issue and your thought process when arriving at the decision. They do not expect the candidates to have full understanding of the various operations, thus it is also a test of how one copes under pressure and in new/unfamiliar situations. (this exercise displays the “helicopter”qualities of the person, whether he has the maturity and qualities to make a good manager)
6. Cocktails. Top management would typically join the candidates and the interviewers for cocktails at the end of the day. Though it is a time to finally relax and get to know each one better, it is also an excellent opportunity to reinforce ones strengths and qualities. This is the best opportunity to make an impression on top management, thus prepare the right questions and be ready to engage.
Given that only the most highly qualified graduates are short listed for Shell’s job interviews, the company, by carrying out the above intensive interview process, aims to select the candidates who clearly stand out amongst the group. Candidates who are further short-listed after this process will still have to go through more interviews before being hired.