Recently I submitted a candidate for a robotics position. He wasn’t a clear fit given his particular skills and background, but certainly close enough for consideration. My client was of the same mind—the candidate’s skills were in an analogous field, but his background was medical robotics (surgical equipment) and my client’s was all-terrain robotics. So, my client made an interesting request. He asked that my candidate review their website, along with some of the projects they have highlighted on their site, and once done, to consider 1) how he might have applied his skills to any of those projects, 2) what he sees as the future of all-terrain robotics, and 3) what he would like to contribute to moving that industry forward.
My first thought was, “Wow! Those are big questions.” My second thought, however, was that this is probably an exercise that every candidate should go through before going through an interview. Sure, “Interviewing 101” cautions that prior to your interview you better have familiarized yourself with the company’s business by visiting their website. (That’s pretty much verbatim from the interview confirmation email we send out to our candidates.) But considering how you might have applied your skills and experience to some of their posted projects would take you to a whole new level of familiarity with their business. And being able to speak to how you would contribute to moving your client’s industry forward…well, that would be quite an interview conversation!
There’s a good chance that the company you’ll be interviewing with probably won’t even have projects listed on their website for you to review. As for weaving into the interview conversation how you might contribute to moving their industry forward, it would be a judgment call as to how this might be received by the interviewer. Nevertheless, I believe this is still a valuable exercise to go through simply to get a person to really think about how he or she might be a really great fit for the job. I guarantee that 20-30 minutes spent considering the three points above will allow you to present yourself in an interview far better than you would have without going through this exercise. Make the time to do this pre-interview homework and you will maximize the chances of your being the candidate of choice.