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FIVE DAY tech job interviews on trial at Oz telco Telstra

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Australia's dominant telco, Telstra, has revealed that it's trying out job interviews that run for five days.

At the Agile Australia conference in Sydney yesterday, Telstra CIO Patrick Eltridge told his interlocutor in a Q&A session attended by IT News that the company has conducted six such interviews so far, resulting in three hires.

We've since asked Telstra just what went on and they've told us candidates - be they from outside or within the company - first went through the usual screening process. Those who made a shortlist then spent time "in an assessment centre where candidates were observed undertaking a number of tasks, and provided feedback on particular areas."

Telstra's spokesfolk also told us "This was not five days of working for Telstra" and that some of the interviewees "were internal Telstra candidates." We asked if external candidates were paid for their time, but haven't had an answer.

Eltridge said the long-form interview method was devised because Telstra needs to assess candidates in more detail than is possible during a conventional interview. Telstra is trying to transform itself from a sluggish and arrogant near-monopoly with a stranglehold on key parts of Australia's communications market into a nimbler and cuter creature capable of doing clever cloudy tricks. That apparently means the company's employees need to be creative, rather than just being technically competent.

The interviews have gone well enough that Telstra is now considering a similar format for roles beyond technology, although Eltridge said senior executive types are less likely to put up with five-day trials and may be offered three-day tests instead.

Nor will this style of interview be universal. Telstra told us that "While IT intends to use this assessment method again it is only for a small number of very senior roles, which require a specific skill set, such as ‘learning on the fly’. It is not intended to deploy this assessment method widely across Telstra." ®

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