Do you think that checking out a company’s website is enough to be knowledgeable about a company before heading to your next interview? You might be surprised, but if you really want to WOW an employer, you need to work much harder. These are the six things to research before an interview in order to impress a prospective employer:
# 1 – The Company.
Finding out as much as possible about the company is key. Check out the following resources: corporate website, trade magazines, company reports (Chamber of Commerce), social media accounts (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest), media articles, reviews on Glassdoor and what else people are posting online. Also consider asking friends and acquaintances to see what information they can provide you with. Maybe you even know someone who is already working there who can give you real insights and information that you would not find anywhere else.
It could be that a hiring manager doesn’t directly ask you, “What do you know about our company?” but tries to pose the question differently. I remember once when they asked me in an interview “What do you think about our website?”. Bear in mind, I applied for a job as Business Lecturer and not as a web designer. However, this shows that there are always different ways for getting the desired information.
# 2 – The Position.
The more you know about the position in advance, the better. Ask yourself: What type of job is it (a completely new position, a maternity cover, a commission-only job, a permanent job, a freelancing opportunity)? Do you know what the essential and desirable job requirements are? What are the duties and responsibilities? What does the job description say? Who will you report to? Does the company expect you to travel and be flexible? All these questions will become very helpful in order to:
a) know whether it’s really the job you aspire to
b) think of the right questions to ask the hiring manager during the interview.
If the job ad does not answer questions that are important to you, approach the company via email or phone to find out before applying for the position.
# 3 – The Interviewer(s).
Knowing as much as possible about the company is great, but remember that it’s actually a PERSON hiring you in the end. So why not making an effort to find out as much as possible about your interviewer(s) in advance. LinkedIn and several other online platforms make it nowadays very easy to find relevant information. The more you know about the person (name, educational background, job history, preferences, interests and hobbies), the better. It gives you the advantage that before or during the interview you have some interesting topics – maybe even some common ground – that you can talk about. It would help you to establish a great relationship right from the beginning.
# 4 – Other Team Members.
Things to research before an interview doesn’t end with the interviewer, even though that’s very important. But being aware of other team members and searching them online can also make a difference. Imagine you are facing a panel interview, would it not be great and impressive if you could greet every person already by their name because you did your research? Or picture this: They invite you out for lunch and you start mentioning their personal interests by asking them specific questions about it (again, thanks to your social media research!). You would not just win the recruiter over, but other panel members too. Don’t forget: People don’t just buy from people they like and trust, but they also HIRE people they like and trust!
# 5 – The Competitors.
Very few candidates go the extra mile to research a company’s competitors. But that is exactly what would make you stand out. Being knowledgeable about the company, the industry and its other key players shows that you take the job and the company seriously.
# 6 – The Corporate Culture.
You might be able and motivated to do a certain job, but are you also a great cultural fit? That’s a question that every company needs to ask themselves before making the final hiring decision. If you are lucky, social media can give you a lot of insight. Check out the company’s social media accounts and see if you can spot any pictures, videos, articles in which the company shares their values, team spirit, outside work activities, success stories etc. All this information could give you a better understanding on whether you would fit in and how happy you would feel.
I remember once applying to a company as a Recruitment Consultant. Everything was prepared, my customized cover letter and my CV. Once I had a look at their Facebook page I realised this was a young team in their 20s which might have an issue hiring a 40+ candidate. I decided not to apply and regretted having wasted my time.
Remembering these 6 things to research before an interview is key. It’s all about your preparation. Yes, it is a time-consuming activity, but the more thorough and strategic your approach is, the better prepared you will be. It will give you also the opportunity to ask the Hiring Manager really smart questions at the end of the interview. Your confidence and enthusiasm will shine through and the rewards will follow!
Karin Schroeck-Singh is the Founder and Content Manager at Career Heads. She holds an MBA from the University of Leicester (UK) and gained 20 years of international work experience in Italy, the UK and India in various industries. Her passion lies in creating career-related high-quality content, giving highly engaging public speeches and helping individuals to achieve their career goals quickly, effectively and professionally.