You’ve landed an interview (over the phone, in-person, or Skype) for the position of your dreams! You are over-the-moon with excitement, and cannot wait to get in front of the hiring manager to show him/her what you’ve got. We love your enthusiasm but hit the brakes a little bit. There are critical steps that must be taken from the moment you’re offered the interview to when you show up. Read on.
Research the Company
Whether it’s a phone, Skype, or in-person interview: you must research the company. Extensively. This is an absolute non-negotiable. Where to start? Figure out what they do well and what differentiates them from their competitors. This will show your interviewer that you’ve done your homework, are passionate about joining their team, and their team specifically. Companies want employees who are passionate about the organization, and not just punching in for the paycheck.
Being knowledgeable in these areas will also show them that you didn’t just fire off your resume to every single company in the industry – you chose them with purpose. Another reason you should do this research – what if you end up disagreeing with their mission statement and/or company values once you read it, and find out it’s a horrible fit for you? It’s better to find out sooner rather than later (like, say, in the interview room) so you can move on and continue your search elsewhere.
Luckily, the aforementioned information is not hard to find. Companies almost always conveniently locate it on their website – check out their “About Us” page or mission statement.
You also obviously want to familiarize yourself with the other “basics” about the company – service offerings/ products, company size, locations, history, key people.
Look into the Company’s Financial Health: Another area worth looking into is the company’s financial health. You might find this information under an “Investor Relations” section on their website or a simple Google search. Check out things like publicly available quarterly earnings, annual reports, and whether revenues are growing or stable.
If you are interviewing with a startup, check out the website Crunchbase for valuable information that will reveal funding, acquisitions, recent hires, and relevant press coverage.
Knowing this information will allow you to speak insightfully and intelligently about where you feel the company is headed if the interviewer goes in that direction.
Check out their Social Media: You better believe that your interviewer has scoured the internet for every piece of information they could find about you, including an extensive review of your social media presence. Do the same for them! Find out what they’ve been up to lately. Check out their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and blog. These are goldmines when it comes to finding out the latest and greatest information about a company, and what they are most proud of, thus, why they are intentionally sharing it.
Reviewing their social media is also a great way to find out how the company communicates and their personality. Are they extremely buttoned-up, or a little more casual? Do posted photos depict employees in formal suits, or jeans and T-shirts? This is NOT to say you should show up to your interview in jeans and a t-shirt (please do not do that!), but it may give you a little glimpse into the corporate culture.
Read up on the competition!
Aside from knowing as much as possible about the company, it’s wise to be able to have an educated discussion about the industry as a whole. A great way to look up competitors is by going to the LinkedIn company page and scrolling down to the “Other Companies People Viewed” section. You can also just do a simple Google search for other companies in the same industry in that area. With a little digging, you’ll get a pretty good sense of who the big players in the field are.
Why am I doing all this?
You may be thinking, “This seems like a lot of work. What is the point of this?” Remember, your goal in the interview is to express to your interviewer that you want to work at their company. Their company specifically, not a competitor, or the business down the street, or any company who will hire you. If you aren’t educated about the organization, not only might you come across as disorganized and unprepared, but desperate for any job that crosses your path.
Speaking knowledgeably about what makes the organization unique, and expressing enthusiasm by showing off your knowledge, speaks volumes about your desire for the position and commitment to being hired. Being able to tactfully work in examples of what you know about the company during interview answers is invaluable and shows your interviewer you are serious about wanting the job.
Lastly: we can almost guarantee that at some point, you will be asked the age-old question: “Why do you want to work here?” Knowing that is enough of a reason to do your research! Stay tuned for Part II!