Meditations on Failed Interview
So I had interview with three senior managers from two leading companies: Hocoma and Motekforce Link. They sent me assessment questions for the interview and let two hours to prepare. I have done so and presented at my outmost ability. Shall you be expecting from someone applying for the job to know company and products well and in-depth for the moment of the interview? That kind of expectation was certainly towards me. After the introduction we had Q&A session, which showed that I missed so many important factors, such as reference to global strategy while setting up regional strategy, competition and overall market, asking questions on what was done before, where to sell, which products, etc.
Also I failed to identify what would be major points of concern and needs of Motekforce Link management. Barry expressed it right away: ‘My concern is you will be doing on your own and connection with you will be lost..’, but I couldn’t catch it at the very moment and ask follow up question on what he would be looking for, like being his eyes and ears in the region?
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I got impression that both Chris and Barry have little or no trust in me as suitable candidate, the tone was rather skeptical as it sounded like they do not think I would be qualified well for the job. In fact, I was not selling myself at all, but rather being straightforward and honest on what I know and how I can do best. Do I think whether I am qualified for the position? Certainly yes. If I were them? Certainly no.
The Strategy Thing
Perhaps my plan wasn’t enough for them, especially when I missed this ‘global strategy’ part while presenting regional one. It seems like they are doing it on full-time basis and I neglected necessity of it. So it was more of a threat to them, as my presentation was: “I can do very well on my own without your kind input’. Of course, I did not mean that way, but it could sound ‘too independent and too naive’ from their perspective? 不知道。One of the major reasons why I did not spot the ‘global strategy’ thing, because was doing it for Rehab-Robotics on the go - review the markets, set up sales targets and work on achieve them. And we did not call it ‘global strategy’. It was more of a plan how to get more sales. So this was already a part of I thought to do. It was nice discovery that there are people who are getting paid for doing this kind of tasks. And then understanding of the strategy: I thought it is apparently what you do in order to achieve a goal (sales). But Chris had a different idea (which I did not get). Later I found more elaborative article on HBR about what strategy may mean.
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The truth is, I do not have clear understanding how this ‘global strategy’ can work if I do regional things. Also I doubt its effectiveness, and it does not matter much (but it can be a bias due to the lack of experience). What matters is whether and how I can connect well with people here locally - in university in KL or in Hong Kong Polytechnic University or Seoul National Uni. What do researchers think about the product? What are their problems, goals and dreams and is the solution I would be offering is the best for them?
Talking Business Smart
Another limitation was that I had very little (basically zero) background in gait analysis and human balance control. One of the assessment questions was:
- “Briefly share your view, how human movement performance can be studied, using tools such as instrumented treadmills, motion capturing, movable platforms, robotics, and sensor technologies. If time permits, discuss also real-time synchronised data streams development and how applications can benefit using the D-Flow visual programming software.”
And despite attempts to study it on my own - it was not enough for the interview. I wasn’t convincing while explaining different products and used terminology, the meaning of which wasn’t sure about (just some general, basic vague idea). Obviously, they spot it and my ‘I will get back to you after consulting with the team’ wasn’t adding points either. All these things can be learned, but they may not be expecting to teach you or give you time to learn. In the end, it is not a university, it is a business.