Interview Tips – 7 Things to Research Before Your Interview!
Nothing is worse than going to an interview unprepared.
In order to ensure success on an interview, you will want to do your research. Why? Because the more you know about a company and its challenges, the better off you will be. Being prepared sets you apart from the competition and sends a signal to the company that you are interested enough in them to have invested your time in research.
Some people are resistant because they feel like they are wasting their time, time they feel is better spent by looking for jobs on Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com. Believe me, the time you invest in research, especially when it’s for an interview, will pay off handsomely. Agree?
If so, here are 7 things that you must research in order to ace your next interview…
1. Research the company. You’ll want to know as much about the company as possible. Fortunately, with the Internet, this is relatively easy to do. Read their annual report. Look for recent articles in the press. Ask people you know about the company. Find a contact in a competitor and see what their perspective might be. The more you research a company, the better armed you will be for the interview — and the more you will impress your interviewer.
2. Research the competition. Nothing will impress the interviewer more than knowing the challenges of the competitive marketplace, especially if the interviewer is a line manager. Show that you care enough to take the time to find out about the competition. Who are they? Dig to find out information about the competition so that you can showcase this information in an interview through questions you can ask. For example: if the company in which you are interested is Pfizer Pharmaceutical, you might want to research similar companies like Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb, Abbott Laboratories and GlaxoSmithKlein to name a few. Don’t overwhelm yourself, but with a little focus, you can find out a lot about the competition. Pick two firms and spend an hour on computer research. It will pay off! Showcase the knowledge you’ve gained by asking a question, such as: “I notice that Pfizer and Abbott Labs are considering a joint venture on pain research. Can you tell me whether you have similar joint ventures going in your firm?” Or, something like that. It will impress the interviewer.
3. Research the position. Of course, the more you know about the position, the better off you are going to be. Get as much detail as possible about the job specifications. Research similar positions in related companies. Develop a relationship with someone in HR and see if you can get more information about the position and how it relates to other positions in the firm. See if you can find a “competency model” for a competitive firm. Similar firms might have mapped out their job families, which are specific types of jobs, and assigned specific competencies, skills and behaviors associated with each position. Google competencies or competency modeling. Network to see if you can speak to people in the field and talk to them about what is typically required in a position near to the one you are considering.
4. Research the company culture. From the work I have done as an outplacement counselor or career coach, I can tell you that fitting in with the company culture is essential. It can ensure or prevent success. Just because you might want to work in investment banking, for example, doesn’t mean that you will have a great experience in all firms. I used to work in the financial services field, and I can tell you that the cultures at Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns couldn’t have been more different. One had a very consensus-driven culture, the other was very “seat of the pants” and entrepreneurial. As a result, these companies hired very different people. Talk to people. Find out what culture resonates with you.
5. Research the employees. Who works at this company for which you are interviewing? What type of person excels? Use your network to make connections with people in the company. See if someone will talk to you. Always try to use a personal connection; people generally won’t make time for someone who calls out of the blue. Try to find someone who knows someone who works there. Then go and talk to them. Ask them to talk about their co-workers and ask what type of person does well there.
6. Research the current challenges. Find a way to penetrate the firm. Ask your friends to make referrals to friends in the company. A couple of years out of school, I wanted to work for a money center bank in New York and one of my top choices was JPMorgan. Before I had my first official interview there, I had contacted and met with 15 people in the firm, who had agreed to meet with me for a half an hour or so. I asked each person about the main challenge they were facing and also about the challenges of the institution. So, I was well-armed for my first interview and asked a lot of questions that only an insider, or someone who had had access to the inside, would know. It impressed them.
7. Research the interviewer. I have a friend who was the President of a major media company in New York City. He told me that he was amazed how many people had not done any research on him before they met with him in an interview. Again, this kind of research is so easy to do — Google your interviewer. Go to Facebook, LinkedIn and other websites. Beyond that, ask everyone you know if they have heard of this person. Make it a mission to find out something about your interviewer.
Remember…the more you know…the more you have increased your chances for success!