New Boss Same as Old Boss?
September 1, 2005 7:07 PM   Subscribe

The Fortune 500 company that I work for has been bought by a Fortune 100 company. I am in IT. "Efficiency Experts" sent from our new company will be interviewing us soon. What is the most effective way to respond during the interview to both keep my job, and advance my position? I'm not sure a Peter Gibbions 'Office Space' attitude is the right approach but... (MI)

I've been with the original company about 7 years. In the last 4 years alone I have survived a downsizing, an outsourcing, a reorganization, and two complete global network rollouts. I have had 4 different bosses and have "dotted lines" to 4 more bosses. There are several services for which I am sole support. I am the 'go-to' guy and (hopefully without too much self aggrandizement) have been the key to the success of several major projects. I have, however, been too engrossed with work to self-promote, much less work the politics necessary to advance my career.

How do I get this across during the interview? Thanks in advance.
posted by HyperBlue to Work & Money (10 answers total)
Tell them just like you did here. Put yourself in the position of the interviewer. Who would you be looking for? Competent, assertive, energetic, a team player, works and plays well with others, nice person, etc. The fact that you have competency in an area that no one else does is a big plus.
posted by caddis at 8:21 PM on September 1, 2005

Documentation. Documentation. Documentation. Put together a cover sheet and a report and give it to the interviewer for "background" and to answer any questions he/she may have after the interview.

Of course, there is no need to emphasize that you didn't self-promote. You have been a steady employee in a rapidly-changing environment. You found an interesting and productive niche and have more than met the companies needs. Not everyone needs to prove the Peter Principle.

Good luck!
posted by ?! at 8:55 PM on September 1, 2005

Dicey situation.

1. Seem open minded. The new kids are going to be in charge. Don't put yourself in the position of defending the status quo. No matter whether your department is a paragon of efficiency and good management, the new team will want to put their stamp on things. Just be the very model of quiet professionalism. (Think Judge Roberts in the confirmation hearings: be affable, and damn competent).

2. Don't express any strong ideas. It may be tempting, at this time of transition, to show the new team that you have the necessary insight required to improve your department or team. Resist this temptation. They don't know what they are going to do yet, but they certainly are not going to let somebody be smarter than them. Hang back. Observe. And be a resource to them. That's all.

What's most important in a situation like this is that they like you as a person; and that they don't feel like you have a hidden agenda that you are waiting to unwind (even if that is, indeed, the case).

Once things have played out a little, you'll have a clearer notion of how to stand out. But during this process, just be an easy guy to work with.

Good luck.
posted by curtm at 9:08 PM on September 1, 2005

Start talking and thinking about the new owner as "us". I've worked for acquirers and the acquired, and nothing is as off-putting as an "us and them" attitude.
Unfortunately, many people don't adapt to this change very quickly, or aren't concious they have this point of view.
Being part of the (combined) team will be seen very positively.
posted by bystander at 9:57 PM on September 1, 2005

Determine what is easily migratable and what is inextricably tied to your system.
posted by mischief at 10:35 PM on September 1, 2005

While playing up how important you've been to the existing infrastructure, also emphasize your adaptability and your good cheer in changing over to your new corporate overlord's systems and processes, even if that means heartbreakingly disassembling things you've worked hard to build. Ditto bystander on being part of the new 'us.'

And profess your love of Michael Bolton. </office space>
posted by Zed_Lopez at 2:23 AM on September 2, 2005

Collect all your performance reviews (I assume they are all good.) Don't thrust them on the interviewers, but let them know you've got them.

Don't worry excessively, you sound like you're in pretty good shape. A friend went to work for DEC right out of college. His department was taken over by H-P when DEC faded. H-P, of course, merged with Compaq. He's still there, and doing well. His general situation in terms of his utility to the company sounds a lot like yours.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:58 AM on September 2, 2005

Attempt to discover, from the interviewer, what the NEEDS of the company will be in the future. Once you ascertain the NEEDS, position yourself as the right person to fulfill those needs.

Remember also that most companies work on meeting objectives....goal oriented. Make sure the interviewer knows that you fit this mold and be prepared to give examples. Good luck.
posted by Mckoan1 at 6:19 AM on September 2, 2005

Attempt to discover, from the interviewer, what the NEEDS of the company will be...

Better yet, do some research on your new company BEFORE this interview, just like if you were applying for a job there. Then, during the interview, you can make a few relevant comments, and thereby impress your new corporate masters.
posted by Rash at 10:15 AM on September 2, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I don't use Ask Mefi too much, and really appreciate the suggestions. This gives me something to focus on besides the uncertainty. I honestly feel a bit selfish worrying about this. My situation pales in comparison to so many in the Gulf Coast.
posted by HyperBlue at 4:17 PM on September 2, 2005

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