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How Tesla lost a brand advocate through poor recruiting practices

Discussion in 'Tesla Motors' started by SteveTheTech, Feb 18, 2015.

  1. SteveTheTech

    SteveTheTech Member

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    #1 SteveTheTech, Feb 18, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
    Good Day all,

    My story begins in the middle of November of last year. About a week after announcing approval for the service center in Vienna Virginia I was contacted by a recruiting coordinator from HQ and asked if I had some time for a phone interview as my name was submitted my the manager from Rockville after a very positive interview a few months earlier in which I ended the process after weighing the travel requirements.

    A brief background on me, I have been an L1 certified ASE master tech with a high line manufacturer for about a decade, Hybrid/EV certified in the first class with that manufacturer and a huge Tesla advocate since the earliest days of the Roadster. Since they opened the first store in downtown DC I have seen a technician position as my "dream" job. I have long thought they offered a cutting edge product that will dictate the future of my field, and to offer them through a non franchised service facility sounded like the ideal place to make history. Something I have really enjoyed doing is spending my day working with owners on very complex electrical systems and technology that stumps the best of us on many days, and I really wanted to open a new store with a new brand in a new location.

    Within a week we had our short interview where they asked the same questions they have asked the three other times I have interviewed with them over the years. "What is the most challenging repair you have done?""List three repairs you are most proud of"etc. Nothing substantive, just very general questions.

    Immediately following that I received an email requesting an on-site interview with the manager from Rockville. After nailing down a time I took a few hours off work to drive up there. The meeting went well, however it was much less of an interview and more of a chat with a fellow EV guy. We spent more time covering the minor fluctuations in the stock price than what the functions of the position I was interviewing for were. When pressed for hard details there was typically a bit of reluctance to answer as it was not his store, or even a store that exists at that point.

    Immediately after that meeting I received an email for a meeting with the regional manager of the Toronto district. We set the appointment for an afternoon about a week out. That meeting went very well, by far the most outwardly competent person I came across during this process. He was encouraging, honest, and very candid about my career choices and about my candidacy for this position. I ended this call with a very good feeling about this brand and the team behind them. Still however not even a ballpark idea of what the compensation might look like, but I was OK with that.

    A few days later the recruiting coordinator got back in touch with me about scheduling a follow up meeting with the regional manager for what would be my district. His region encompassed the majority of the east coast and part of Canada at that time. Doing a little homework on the guy I found out he was a line tech, then moved up to service manager, then to regional manager within a very short time frame. I was a little excited to see this, as my current position offers very little in the way of career growth potential, and we have many similar interests and experience. Our first meeting was scheduled for the afternoon of New Years Eve (his choice not mine). Our scheduled meeting time came and went without any contact. After waiting for the 30 minutes we had scheduled together I emailed my contact in recruiting and received an apology and a promise to reschedule. Having been in the business for all of my adult life I know how the end of the year can be, so I wrote it off and took the next appointment he set up.

    Long story slightly shorter...he blew me off 3 times total. On the third time he did call, half an hour late.

    During my interview it was clear he was in the middle of several other tasks, all of which required more attention than the phone call. We talked for about 5 minutes then he said that my name looked familiar and asked if we had spoken in the past. (Knowing we were supposed to during the interview 6 months earlier, but I withdrew from the process before we ever spoke) I said something to the effect of "I do not recall...It is possible, I have been through this process several times before". After a few seconds he comes back to me with "Here are your notes from last time, so we can leave it here and I will fill out my report with the notes from our last meeting" I was a little surprised but whatever let's see how this plays out. After bobbling a few pointed but simple questions I think anyone who has been through advanced HV battery diagnosis training should have been able to answer we ended the call.

    Having been in the industry this long my impression of the internal managerial structure of this brand is....concerning to say the least. I work with enough car salesmen and middle managers to know when something does not smell right it is often much worse. The biggest red flag was the notion that this is what it is like to deal with management when they are trying to show me their best. Because it would seem that as much as I am trying to woo them they are also trying to sell their brand and corporate culture to me.

    Following the meeting with the east coast manager, my contact sent me a request to fill out another application form to grant them permission to run my credit, investigate my background, and contract my direct superior. All of which are clean,good, and reasonably pleased with me (per a recent mortgage application interview he gave). Once this form was submitted that was the last time I heard from anyone at Tesla Motors. Follow up emails over the next few weeks went unacknowledged, calls to the direct number listed in every email exchange went to voicemail, and as far as I knew they dropped off the face of the world.

    The tone of this may sound like I am bitter that I was not selected for employment, I assure you all it is not that way. I am annoyed that people who represent a brand and product I truly believe in are running it in such a way that makes me really question the long term sustainability of the brand. Reading the interview and employment reviews on Glassdoor really drive this message home. This is how they choose to run a business where they are actively seeking "top" talent to work in less than favorable conditions. If they really wanted top technicians and do not plan on paying fair market value for them they really need to sell themselves as a career investment that will pay out over time (and to most techs a tiny amount of stock option is not enough to provide the type of living required). If what you are trying to pitch to people, is long hours, poor home/work life balance, and dramatically less money than they will quickly burn through the small group of qualified individuals that drink the same Kool-Aid. Maybe I am alone in the feeling that if I give persmission to contact my boss, run my credit and check my background the very least I deserve is a quick form email saying they are going in another direction.

    TL/DR- I want someone in charge at Teslas' recruiting department to know what is going on and try to fix it before it is too late. While I have already turned my back on this company, I still really do hope that they work this out and learn to take a much different approach to recruiting before trying to take on the big dogs in a realm other than small brand luxury. There are some of us out there who will be willing to play your games, but not one of the senior level techs I have spoken with would sit around for 4 months waiting on an offer. I know this forum is followed very closely and I hope this story is not in vain, please help save a brand I love from itself!
     
  2. SW2Fiddler

    SW2Fiddler Bannd Member

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    #2 SW2Fiddler, Feb 18, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
    Sounds like very valuable feedback for Tesla Motors!
     
  3. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    The internal structure of Tesla and inconsistency in management has been my main concern with Tesla for quite a while. Thanks for your "report".
     
  4. SteveTheTech

    SteveTheTech Member

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    Ahh those darned fat fingers strike again, of course in a field without spell check ;)

    I noticed that after I submitted it...read the body several times...missed the headline (guess that does nothing to prove my point)

    Can I get an admin to help make me look literate please? :)
     
  5. BerTX

    BerTX Member

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    Sorry you had this problem. Communication, at all levels and in all areas, is definitely the downfall in Tesla.

    On the surface, from your description, the position was not yet actually available and they could not offer it officially. They wanted to keep their best candidates stringing along as long as possible until they could actually make an offer.

    Know that other new service centers have been announced and the hiring process initiated, and the center is still not open many months after.
     
  6. v12 to 12v

    v12 to 12v Active Member

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    Parts of this sounds typical (and familiar) for many different fields for interview processes. Don't call us, we'll call you. Extra non-essential contact can be interpreted negatively, depending on the culture, the type of company, or the approach. In other businesses it can be viewed as favorable. I used to interview candidates and make employment recommendations so I had to report every single contact from a candidate along with information regarding the purpose of the contact with time, date and exactly what was said. I had to turn in any correspondence and any phone logs for the candidate's file. It was a CYA process so that there was no impression of bias or potential suits. Meanwhile, the hiring process could easily last at least 6 months. That doesn't include the work done before the actual job is posted. This includes jobs from the ground floor to technical professionals and top positions.

    My brother just went through something like your situation with fumbled interview appointments. He showed up for scheduled interviews and the first time, one of the interview panelists was out sick, the second time the HR scheduler messed things up and double booked candidates. It in no way represented the department that he would be working for or the people he would be working with. The third time, he walked into the interview after waiting an hour and a half and they just said, "You are hired, but its off the record". Many would not be comfortable doing that. This is a place that has very rigid hiring processes and follow up processes but, they had rookie setting up interviews, and they didn't want to take the chance of him getting hired by someone else due to the fumbles. Thousands applied and there was over 100 interviews.

    The follow up process can take months too because some organizations have to interview and report on every single applicant that was, and was not, contacted for the process before getting the recommended candidate's hiring approval. Many interviewers must do a numerical rating of KSA's and report it whether the applicant got an interview or not. (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities)

    You may not hear the outcome until a job offer was made, accepted and the prevailing candidate completed the process of signing contracts or agreements. Sometimes offers are not accepted and people are just practicing interviewing in preparation for another job opening. That means more job offers will need to be made or the process needs to be re-opened.

    I can understand how you would have different expectations coming from a different work and employment culture. Many candidates would not consider working under the conditions you mention to be "less than favorable". That point of view can change outcome. Is the candidate a "work to live" type or the type that "lives to work"?

    To others, the hiring process you describe may sound routine or quite informal. I hope this helps you understand some of the possibilities about what might be going on behind the scenes.
     
  7. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Related comment:

    Valley start up companies go through phases where early staff may accept low pay, but can end up handsomely rewarded through stock options.
    You wouldn't expect to find that in a decades old established auto company.

    I am sure that there are many early Tesla staff that felt like they got very good money for their work based on their stock options / grants.

    At some point, a start up matures, and may not have the same upside on their stock value, but can be slow to switch compensation from options to salary / bonus structure instead.

    It is up to you to decide how attractive and suitable "in-lieu" stock would be today if you felt like base compensation was otherwise low.
     
  8. JohnQ

    JohnQ Active Member

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    As the head of recruitment for a major corporation, I can tell you that when we ask for background and credit information we are quite serious about a candidate. I would recommend two things: 1) if you are still interested in the role, contact the folks you interviewed with and politely ask for an update on the status of your candidacy mentioning that you've left emails for x weeks with the recruitment team, and 2) regardless of your interest, send a note to Arnnon Geshuri, the head of HR explaining, briefly, your experience. He'll relay to the recruiting team.

    One of the biggest challenges for us is communicating status with candidates. We survey everyone who interviews with us and fewer than 75% feel that they received regular updates from their recruiter.
     
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  9. iadbound

    iadbound Member

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    My impression from dealing with a number of levels of management on the service side, as a customer not a potential employee, is that everyone is overwhelmed. Thus, they may not be able to get back to you promptly even if they had made a decision. Even as a customer it is sometimes difficult to get a response. In addition, we have probably all had occasion to wait around waiting to hear about job. Sometimes you get a call back on your post-interview inquiries and sometimes you don't.

    It's too bad the OP has soured on Tesla because it struck me that the story of the rise of the regional service manager was very encouraging -- i.e., work hard and there are opportunities for significant advancement. That said, Tesla is obviously struggling with its growth. Let's hope they get the people and systems in place to make the all processes easier for everyone.
     
  10. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    In spite of all these comments, they somehow manage to staff up as needed, I think. They keep growing, got the car factory going, and are working on Gigafactory, etc.
     
  11. CatB

    CatB Member

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    Steve, was it you who helped us select top floor of Tyson's garage for our meetup photo shoot about a year ago?
    i have my fingers crossed for you. I do have to echo other comments that recruitment process quality is often inversely related to job quality, so please don't give up. As a big fan of the overworked Rockville crew, I know they would appreciate some good talent in the neighborhood.
     
  12. SteveTheTech

    SteveTheTech Member

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    #12 SteveTheTech, Feb 18, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
    I really appreciate the incite from the industry pros I knew only this forum would bring out.

    If this were the first time I had talked them for a potential position I would still be sitting around waiting. Being the only time I have ever given consent to check my background I was confident in my progression through the process to the point where an answer either way seems appropriate. Maybe two months is not long enough to wait for any contact, but since the store is supposed to be up and running in the next month it seems likely that they have staffed up sufficiently.

    I am not turned off from the brand as a company just as a worker. I would still consider an X for my next car...however I do not know that (if ever offered) I could accept a position after such a rocky courtship.
     
  13. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    #13 ecarfan, Feb 18, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2015
    After your very public complaint, you may not get an offer. Some companies do not take it well when private conversations are aired publicly.

    Here is a hypothetical to consider: person applies for a position with company ABC and company decides they are not a good fit for reasons D, E, F. If company then posts reasons D,E, F online, along with the applicants name, the applicant would rightfully consider that an invasion of privacy.
     
  14. Canuck

    Canuck Active Member

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    #14 Canuck, Feb 18, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
    I don't think he would accept an offer if one was made. He said this:

    His frustration certainly seems reasonable to me, and hopefully his comments will assist Tesla in becoming better at recruitment.

    I guess but there's still probably room for improvement.
     
  15. mkjayakumar

    mkjayakumar Active Member

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    If I were the one making the decision in Tesla on this position, and if it was nothing but pure red-tape and internal bureaucracy that has led to this delay in communication, I would gladly make the offer to Steve. Steve has the knowledge, expertise and above all a passion. Steve is indeed exhibiting that 3rd and very vital component - passion to work for a great EV company like Tesla through this post. Finding someone with all the three traits isn't easy.
     
  16. Auzie

    Auzie Tree Hugger Member

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    Note: Larger font mine for emphasis

    Steve, few times I experienced similar scenario to the one you described, but from the perspective of a hiring manager. Perhaps shedding some light on possible causes of noncommunication and delay might help understanding.

    In few instances, the hiring process was progressed as far as a single candidate selection but then it was put on hold. The selected engineer made several enquiring calls over a period of six months. Another engineer had to go through the interview process (3 interviews at a time) for the second time, due to some management changes on a higher level. Eventually, they both got a job.

    Hiring decisions usually require very high-level approvals as increased headcounts attack bottom line and need to be justified. Such approvals can be reversed or put on hold for various business reasons. That might cause a freeze of all ongoing hiring processes and bring about uncertainty to all parties.

    In my view, background check is a sign of intended offer. It seems that there might have been some changes in the organization that caused the delay in hiring or a freeze.

    Let's consider possibilities:

    1. Someone else is hired. If this was the case then most likely you would have been informed accordingly, as informing you is easy and the right thing to do. Not informing you and dealing with your inquiries is more difficult and feels wrong. I find this scenario unlikely.

    2. There is a hold on hiring process (or hiring you) for unknown business reason. In this scenario it is very difficult to communicate with the candidate as the ones that need to communicate are most likely in the dark as well. The hiring might happen or it might not.

    Two moths does not seem excessive to me. However, we are possibly much slower here in Australia :biggrin:
     
  17. Karma

    Karma Member

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    This thread provides some very interesting insight into the recruitment and hiring practices at Tesla Motors. What surprises me the most is that they are not using a recruitment firm to manage this, and are doing it internally - when clearly, the people handling it internally are either overwhelmed, or lack the motivation to follow through.

    OP, let's hope you still get that call and the opportunity comes knocking. Sounds to me like you may be able to assist with change of culture.
     
  18. SteveTheTech

    SteveTheTech Member

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    I agree, the calculated risk I took was after much soul searching. I eventually decided to pursue this route as this is not the first time I have been down this road and am in no way the only one to be left wondering. My end goal is basically to is inspire a slight modification in thought and approach. If that has to come at the cost of burning any employment bridge with them...well that is something I will have to live with. In their quest to appeal to the top hourly and blue collared workers they need to realize we by and large do not understand the hiring practices of giant tech firms. More than I want TM to be my employer I want them to dominate the automotive market and change the service industry, and I fear this approach will alienate many who could really help the brand. The reviews on Glassdoor show this as a systemic concern that has turned many people from the brand. Reporting there has not escalated this to the appropriate levels where change can be effected maybe this is a better platform.

    Thank you for the kind words.
    I too still hope it pans out in the future, but I am realistic and understand I have probably set the bridge ablaze with this move for good.
    I do not know if I made that suggestion, but I vaguely recall the conversation. Although I prefer the parking garage at the top of Reston Town Center, Tysons does offer some great backdrops. :)
    The guys in Rockville are awesome, I really admire the level of skills, talent, and drive they all have. Those guys all really care about the product and the owners on another level than anything I have seen in the franchise dealership realm.

    Either of these options are fine with me, I am an adult I can handle it. I too want the best fit for the position to be hired. In either of those cases the only thing I was asking for is the tiniest bit contact. A form email saying something completely vague and generic would suffice, honesty would be better but I am realistic. If they are so over burdened by workload they cannot possibly be expected to return an email or answer a desk phone than that is a much more concerning problem. The candidates should not see behind the curtain to that level until after they are committed.

    I have heard that things do move a little slower Down Under, I always thought that was because every third step contains something that will try to kill you.

    Thank you, that is very nice of you :redface:. I suspect if you were in charge you would have sent a tiny heads up to hang in there.
    Being (mostly) rational and a long time follower of the company I am almost used to this approach now, but I still have concerns for the future once word spreads that this is the way things work when you get there. I do not want TM to be looked at like GM is by the grunts.
     
  19. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    Elon always says that negative feedback from people who genuinely want your company to succeed is among the most valuable resources a company can leverage. If that is true, this type of discussion should be encouraged at Tesla(and everywhere really).

    If the OP thought direct contact with Tesla were the better route, he would have gone that way. In a sense, that can be taken as another piece of feedback.
     
  20. CHGolferJim

    CHGolferJim Member

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    One of the most important lessons someone taught me in a famous graduate business school was "never judge a company by the people in Personnel". I have frequently found that to be true. I imagine if you can hold on, you will be very glad down the road.
     

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