“ hmmm ” mumbled gerald “ B u s i n e s s F i n a n c e

“ hmmm ” mumbled gerald “ B u s i n e s s F i n a n c e

Please read the following case study on Washington Home Builders and respond to the three questions following the study.

Case 6-1. Who is doing the selling? Gerald Interviews at Washington Home Builders

Gerald Mahoney was working in the women’s shoe department and doing the best that he could to sell a fairly expensive pair of boots to a young lady who obviously could afford to shop at a much classier store such as Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus. For some unfathomable reason, however, she decided to bestow her good graces on Macy’s. After a few minutes of trying on several pairs of boots, Gerald was able to gently persuade Ms. Monahan to buy one of their most expensive boots. He rang up the sale and was complimenting himself on his persistence when out of the blue the customer said:

Why is an obviously highly talented man like you, who has just sold me a pair of shoes I probably don’t need or even want, working at a place like Macy’s? My name is Ms. Monahan and I am the Director of Recruiting and Training at Washington Home Builders and I can tell from the way that you have handled this sale that you would make a superb homes salesperson. Here’s my card. Why not call me tomorrow morning and we can arrange a time for you to come in? Our website is also on the card so feel free to check us out and see our job listings.

Gerald thanked Ms. Monahan for her kind words and told her he certainly would call her in the morning and arrange for an appointment.

Getting the Interview

Gerald called Ms. Monahan the next day as he promised and she seemed quite receptive to his call. She asked him to fax over a resume and that she would get back to him (or her assistant would), in order to set up an appointment for him to interview with her and some of the key salespeople in the firm. Gerald ended up faxing his resume 3 days after he had talked with Ms. Monahan. Her office called him back, faxed him a job application blank, which he quickly completed and mailed back. A nerve-racking week went by and Gerald finally received an appointment for an interview for the following week.

The “Interview Process” at Washington Home Builders

Gerald thought he knew what to expect during an interview since he had been through so many–he was prepared to sell himself to Washington big time. Usually he would meet with a store manager or the head of personnel for about an hour and they would ask him questions about his previous employment, why he left his last job, and why he wanted to work for their firm. These were routine questions which inevitably led to a discussion of salary (if they thought he was qualified to do the job) and a job offer. Washington’s interview process turned out to be far more complex.

It all started at 9 a.m. First, before he met with anyone, Gerald took a battery of exams and filled out a set of questionnaires. The exams included everything from basic math questions (which he hadn’t done since his college days, nearly 30 years ago), to what seemed to be an IQ test, to questions about self-image, his honesty, and to his preferences about the type of work he liked to do.

Rather than having a long break for lunch, they had a working lunch where HRl went through the entire compensation package: a base salary plus commission, medical benefits, and a really good 401(k) plan where the firm contributed 5% of his salary.

His first interview that afternoon seemed to set the tone for the rest of the day. Gerald had a wonderful interview with the Sales Director, Sam Arden, and found Sam’s easy going, laid-back style a refreshing change of pace from the usual sales people he had dealt with most of his life. Sam, after telling Gerald about the firm and the job, asked Gerald some brief standard questions about his background and sales history and what made Gerald special enough to become a Washington sales associate. Gerald expected these questions and was quite prepared.

The next series of questions, however, were very different than anything Gerald had experienced during an interview and he found this approach very positive and exciting. Sam would tell him a little story and then ask Gerald what he would do or say if he were the manager or sales associate in the situation. No one had ever asked Gerald’s opinion about anything at his prior jobs and Gerald felt that he had finally found a firm that cared about what he thought and was willing to listen to him. Gerald thought he sailed through these scenarios with flying colors since Sam’s tone was always very positive throughout the interview. It was 3 p.m. when Sam finally called an end to the session and Gerald felt invigorated and ready for more.

Gerald was directed to a small conference room where three people who identified themselves as area managers and one person from HR asked him a series of questions about his selling approach, work habits, and his ability to work with a sales partner. This session was repeated in another room with another three area managers and another person from personnel. Both of these sessions involved a series of follow-up questions that Gerald was happy to answer. At 5 p.m., the session ended and Sales Director Sam Arden walked in and told Gerald he would contact him in a week to let Gerald know the firm’s decision. Gerald thanked Sam for the opportunity to interview for a job with Washington and said he looked forward to hearing from them.

The Letter

A week went by and Gerald had not heard anything from Washington. Gerald finally called and was told that a letter was in the mail to him and he should await its arrival. Three days later and with continued impatience at work and at home, Gerald received the destined letter. The first word he read “congratulations” sent Gerald into an ecstatic frenzy. He then read further. “Hmmm” mumbled Gerald “this was not exactly what I was told.” Their job offer was commission based only and assuming that medical and dental packages ran about the same cost and that coverage was the same as his current job, Gerald would lose paid vacation time but perhaps gain in terms of contributions to a 401(k) plan. Gerald thought to himself “Bummer! This is not the same great deal that I was told about during the interview process! Who sold who on the job?”


  1. Analyze Gerald’s interviews in light of Model 6-2 Interviewing Steps. How well did Washington follow those steps?
  2. What types of questions did it seem Washington used during the interview process?
  3. In reviewing the Exhibit 6-1: Steps in the Selection Process, how successful was Washington in making their selection of Gerald for the job? Suggestions for improvement?