The second in our series on better interview preparation is about doing your research before interview (Read the first – Preparing your Answers).
Lack of research is one of the most prominent complaints we receive from employers about potential candidates. Interviewers feel that candidates don’t do enough research and often come to interviews with no real idea about what a firm does or how the industry works.
So the bad news is you need to put greater time and effort into your research – you need to move beyond the job description and the ‘about us’ page and gain a more thorough understanding. But there’s good news as well – since most candidates don’t achieve the right level of research, this presents a significant opportunity to stand out against your competition.
This advice holds for every stage of the application process but it’s particularly crucial at interview. You need to be concentrating on researching 3 elements:
- The Firm
- The Role
- The Industry
Try and look at your pre-interview research like an assignment – imagine you’ve been set the task of producing a paper about the vacancy. The more work you put in the better you’ll do.
Everyones knows you need to research the firm before interview, what people don’t always realise is the level of knowledge employers expect you to have.
Go the extra mile and find out absolutely everything you can about the firm:
- Everything about their products and services.
- Their major clients and competitors.
- The company ethos.
- The number of people they employ.
- Where all their offices are based.
- Their main goals.
- When they were founded.
- Recent and historical achievements.
- Charities they support.
The question – ‘What do you know about us?’ is almost bound to come up in one form or another so use your research to prepare and rehearse a succinct answer. Tread the line carefully between showing off how much you know without going on too much.
Google New Filter. Use the news filter on google to find news articles and press releases about the firm.
Google Alert. Set up a google alert for the firm, then you’ll have relevant information sent directly to your inbox.
Find the firms blog. If the firm has a blog this is a great way to get some in depth insight.
Twitter. Follow the firm’s twitter account and if you know the name of your interviewer try and find them as well – this should give you a clue as to the tone of the interview.
Employers want you to demonstrate that you understand what a role entails. This clip from James Caan highlights some of the reasons it’s important to understand the role the firm is looking to fill.
It can be a little tricky particularly with obscurely named job titles. The first place to start is obviously the job description, then use some of the resources listed below to go a little deeper:
- What’s an average day like in this role.
- Why does the firm need this role.
- What key skills are integral to this role.
- What training and qualifications are important to this role.
And of course there is us…Career Matching and Insight Shameless plug!
Closely linked to commercial awareness, industry knowledge will help you stand out as a candidate that knows their stuff.
Try and find out things such as:
- Industry specific terminology.
- The major players in the industry.
- External factors currently affecting the industry.
- Current or upcoming legislation effecting the industry.
- Industry trends and financial prospects.
Publications. Find industry publications.
Google Alert. Set up a google alert for the industry as well as the firm.
Check out these sites for some great sector specific info:
If you do all of this your thorough knowledge will shine through at every stage of the application process.
Stay tuned for the next in the series – Better Interview Preparation: Practice makes perfect.