Preparing for the Final Interview – Functional Fit

In our last post, we talked about the importance of motivational fit for a prospective employee, based on Michael Pietrack’s “Game Plan to Win,” which highlights four areas that all employers look at to assess a candidate during the final interview. Today we’re going to look at the second area that employers will focus on before they decide to hire someone: functional fit.

What is functional fit?

What is functional fit? Functional fit describes your unique qualifications and work experience related to this particular job. Pietrack shares that Functional Fit is further comprised of 4 parts – functional experience, credentialing, technical experience, and locality. When a candidate meets all four of these areas, he refers to this as a “4-out-of-4” fit. That’s what you want to strive for.

The four parts of functional fit

Let’s break these down a bit. Functional experience is the hands-on experience you have doing the job that the interviewer is hiring for. Someone with experience will be productive much faster than someone that the company has to train or teach a new skillset to. If you have awards or other accomplishments doing that job, then even better. This means you’re at the top of the field.

Credentialing is your education or certifications that would be required to do this job. Important in any industry, but especially so in the IT industry. Are you Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), or Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)? All of these are important to point out to the company you’re interviewing with, as well as any other certifications. These certifications send a strong message of your capability to do the job. They show commitment on your part and that’s something any hiring manager likes to see.

Technical experience describes any experience that you have working with the software and technical components of the job. From an employer’s perspective, this is another area that you can begin immediately to provide results for them if you’ve got experience working with their software platform or specific hardware.

Locality simply means that you live in commuting distance to the office that they want you to be working out of or you’re willing to relocate to the area. Typically, you’re not going to make it to a final interview if you haven’t met this criterion already.

Regardless of the industry, all employers prefer to have all four of these criteria match when hiring. In the IT industry, it’s especially true with the technical component and the credentialing.

When interviewing during the final interview, it’s important that you convey that you possess all four of these criteria to them, whether you do this at the beginning of the interview or presenting an overview of your qualifications at the end.

What if you don’t meet all four?

If you know going into the interview that you only meet three out of the four of these functional fit areas, it’s important that you show – not just tell – the hiring manager that you learn quickly. Offer up examples of times that you have had to jump in and learn a software program on your own. Do not just use the phrase “I’m a quick learner,” but give them tangible evidence that you have been challenged in this type of situation and have risen to the occasion. Remember here that your competition could very well be a four out of four on functional fit. According to Mike Pietrack, if you can leave the interviewer thinking “this person could come up to speed quickly” you’ve elevated yourself to meet four of the four.

Why you?

The question that functional fit answers is “why you?” What about you in particular – your work experience makes you the candidate that stands above the other highly-qualified candidates. Your job going into the final interview is to be able to fully address this question and leave the interviewer with no doubt that you are the right person for the job.