A job interview is like an open-book test: read and learn everything you can about the company. Every piece of information gives you a leg up over the other candidates.
When hundreds of headhunters were asked, 53% complained job candidates were unprepared for their interviews. Candidates often try to wing it, and employers notice. While much of an interview is improvised charm and personality, the core of an interview is research and prep.
Follow these steps to come off as informed and polished in your next job interview.
News About an Organization
If the company you’re interviewing for received any rewards, rounds of funding, pushed out a new product or feature, participated in an event, etc., you want to know. You don’t need to memorize this information word-for-word, but don’t skip this step. Even if you never directly bring this knowledge up during the interview, getting context and a sense of where the company is heading will do wonders for your confidence and how you approach interview answers.
Study Key Players
Company leaders are often quoted in news articles or glimpsed in YouTube videos. Absorbing this media helps you understand executive objectives and what lingo these leaders use when talking about their cause. Looking at their Linkedin profiles, and reading the way they personally describe their objectives gives you an in.
For example, if the sales director repeatedly uses the phrase “our personalized sales process fosters relationships with key players in the industry,” that’s a cue. When you tell a story about your internship or education, emphasize how you assisted with or focused on big deals that built a pipeline.
“I assisted business developers by targeting key players in our industry through email blasts, focusing on make-it-or-break it deals. I made sure every question the clients and partners had was well-researched and taken care of immediately, because I believe in emphasizing customer service at every level of a deal.”
A little subliminal messaging goes a long way, because it shows you’re on the same page as your potential employer. You want to demonstrate the assets the company values most. Focusing on the perspectives of company leaders is the best place to start.
If you don’t research the company culture, you’re going to be that candidate walking into the interview with a full suit on, when you could’ve easily seen the photos of their extremely casual work environment posted all over social media and their company website.
That’s just one of the many “whoops” moments of not checking out a company’s culture. It’s also important to learn their company tone through any online media, and through employer review sites or testimonials. Study their mission, and think about the kind of work environment you’ll be walking into. The culture at a company with mostly twenty-somethings will be so much different than a company comprised of mostly middle-aged execs. These bits of knowledge can be just as priceless as your proven job skills.
Use the Product
If you can, use the product. Reading about a product will only get you so far. Sign up for a trial run, create a profile, or visit their on-site store if the company sells merchandise. Whatever you do, bring first-hand information to the interview. This will especially drive your questions for the interviewer–which need to focus on product insights and future product developments.
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