Everyone feels intimidated when knowing there is a job interview on the horizon but there are many ways you can prepare for your interview and calm those nerves. One way to so is to thoroughly RESEARCH and arm yourself with information about the company and the people you are interviewing with.
Researching the company and its people can help in the following ways:
It shows that you are interested in the position you are applying for.
It demonstrates that you are eager to be part of the company’s culture, mission and values.
The knowledge will assist you in aligning YOU to the company.
You can show up prepared with questions that specifically pertain to them.
Gaining information about the company will help you decide if you are a good fit with the employer.
Read on and you will know that this all makes sense.
The Big 5 reasons you should do your research:
1. It shows that you are interested in the position you are applying for.
The people sitting across from you in that interview room is going to want to know why you want to work for the company and they are not looking to hear that you want to pay your bills or be able to have insurance. When you give them your answer what they are really looking for is how you might be able to benefit the company and meet it’s needs. Researching the company will help you come up with impressive answers that align with their goals. If you’ve done your research you can stand out from the pack when answering this question as you will be in tune with them as opposed to giving a canned response. For example when I made a move from a publicly traded bank to a privately owned bank I said I had experience working with smaller community banks and missed having my pulse on the people of the community. Although this was true I knew at the time that my publicly traded bank was selling and the bank I interviewed with was for a higher up position and would allow me to stay in the geographic area I wanted to be in. Guess which reason meant the most to them? That I wanted to move up or stay in the area? No, it was hearing that I had a passion for what they stood for - serving their local communities with a hands on approach. I was able to have an actual conversation with them about their company and it showed my interest and passion for what they stood for.
Below are some good starting points for your research:
How long has the company been in business and how is it structured in terms of ownership?
What products and services do they offer?
Who is the CEO and/or President?
What’s the company’s mission and goals?
Are there any current news in the media or updates on their website about the company?
Doing this research shows you are truly interested in the company and interested in the position and you are likely to make a good impression.
2. It demonstrates that you are eager to be part of the company’s culture, mission and values.
By researching a company’s culture you can not only get a good idea whether this job is for you, but more importantly during the interview you’ll be able to tell them how you’ll be a good cultural fit for them. This can give you a huge advantage over other applicants. By reading up on potential social media posts, media news, website etc. you can often learn quite a bit about what the company stands for and believes in. For example I could tell from my research that one of the companies I interviewed for was big into volunteer work - so it was an excellent way for me to bring up the work I had done for the American Heart Association and how I had served as a Big Sister for the Big Brother Big Sister mentoring network. Sometimes it might be hard to find ways to align yourself with a company’s culture but if you take the time and think through your life you will often find accomplishments that will line up with the company’s culture and values. Remember that a company is more than what it does, it is a brand and it is it’s own environment and having knowledge of this can better position you for the employer to see your fit. And you will have a better understanding whether the company is the right fit for you.
3. The knowledge will assist you in aligning YOU to the company.
Now that you know what the company does and what they stand for it is time for you to market yourself to them and to show them why you are the best fit for the position.
During an interview it is important to showcase how your skills and achievements relate to the position in question. Even more so your employer will be looking for someone who understands the issues they are wanting to address by hiring you. Doing research on the company will better prepare you to show them how you can make a difference. If you understand key information about the company you are more likely to know how you can be of value. Take the time to think of specifics regarding how your role fits into the overall picture and start aligning your education and experience with what you have learned about their business needs. If you are able to align your talent with the company needs the hiring manager will take notice.
4. You can show up prepared with questions that specifically pertain to them.
There comes a time in the interview when the potential employer will ask if you have any questions and I can not stress the importance of this session enough. Personally, to show interest, I often weave these into the interview itself if I can as it demonstrates interest. If you do a good job on this they are sure to sit back and take notice.
This session is where you can really show that you have done your homework about the company. Ask questions that demonstrate the knowledge you have gained through your research. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to impress by failing to familiarize yourself with the company. It is important to ask questions that add value, not questions that you could easily have found out already by for example visiting their website. Such questions could potentially make you look lazy or uninterested. Instead use the knowledge you have gained through research to ask insightful questions that are particularly targeted to the company. An example of this would be “I read in the news that you are acquiring XYZ company. Is the company goal to keep growing through acquisitions and/or is there a particular value XYZ will add to your company?” Or another example such as “I see that you have a culture of X. What are some things your company does to promote this culture?”
These types of questions show that you are eager to be part of their organization and that you take a true interest.
5. Gaining information about the company will help you decide if you are a good fit with the employer.
Research will quickly give you a feel for whether you want to work for this company or not. If they for example have had recent layoffs or have continually posted a loss then this may not be the place for you. Learning about their culture could also give you an idea if you think you will fit in or not. We often spend more time at work than we do at home so do you really want to dread going to work? To make this decision take the time to think through what is important to you. Depending on where you are in life you may have different goals. Are you looking for a growth ladder? Or a work/life balance that is healthy for you and your family? Do you like the challenge of working independently or do you prefer team work?
Hopefully this blog post has been beneficial for you and shown you that doing research on the company before your interview can help both you and your future employer. Solid research can set you apart from the competition by aligning your strengths with the company’s needs. When you show up well prepared for an interview it will truly lessen any anxiety you may feel and the interview is much more likely to flow smoothly and naturally. As someone who has interviewed many, many potential hires I can tell you an interviewer can almost immediately tell if the candidate has done their homework or not. Research the company and set yourself up for success!
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