Hit the Books!

You have been invited in for an interview.  You really want this position, so you need to perform well.  You have heard that it is a good idea to research the company before the interview, but what type of research should you be doing?  What information do you need?  Here are some areas where you can focus your research:

1.  Is the organization reputable?   At the very least, you want to make sure that the organization has the resources to pay you.  There are many scams around that target job seekers.  Have you ever heard of the organization?  Do they have an actual location?  Do they seem legitimate?

2.  About Us.  Review the organization’s “About Us” section.  This will tell you about their mission, vision, and overall what they are trying to accomplish.  Try to determine what sets this organization apart from its competition. In what direction are they headed? Do they have any other positions advertised?  The employer will be impressed if you have a strong understanding of who they are and what they do.  Also, this information will help you to assess the skills, experiences and attributes that will be appealing to them.

3.  Newspaper Articles, Press Releases, Recognition, and Awards.  By looking up this information, you will determine what makes this employer proud.   This gives you insight into the organization’s values, and you can endear yourself to the employer by raising these topics and demonstrating that your own values are consistent with theirs.

4.  Challenges of the Position, the Organization and the Industry.  If you have a good idea of the challenges inherent in the role, as well as the general challenges that the employer is facing, you can instill confidence in the manager that you are capable of overcoming those challenges.  Read newspapers, industry publications and the company website to try to identify those challenges.  You can also look at the organization’s competitors.  This may require some detective work and you may need to read between the lines.

5.  What Does Your Network Think?  This is an excellent opportunity to make use of the network that you’ve been building.  See if anybody you know is familiar with the organization and pump them for information.  How is this organization’s reputation?  What types of skills and experiences do they value?  What are their plans for the future?  This type of inside information can help you shine in an interview.

6.  How is the Organizational Culture?  Is it formal or informal?  Do they value creativity or structure?  Do they prioritize corporate social responsibility?  Former or current employees are an excellent source of this type of information.  You can also get clues about the organizational culture by looking at the company web site.  How do they present themselves?  If you understand the organizational culture, you are in a better position to show that you are a good fit for the position.

7.  The Position.  Research the role at this organization and at other organizations.  You need to have a strong understanding of the duties, requirements, and challenges of the position.  If you can speak confidently about the position, it will be easier for them to picture you in the role.

8.  Salary.  You need to have a good idea of the salary range for the position.  This will help you appear competent, and it will assist you during the salary negotiation.

9.  Research the Interviewer.  If you are lucky enough to have the name of your interviewer prior to the interview, Google them and look them up on social networking sites.  This could give you an idea of what to expect, and it could even give you insight into their interests and values, which you may be able to make use of in the interview.  Don’t waste this opportunity- you know they will be searching your name!

By taking the time to do effective company research before the interview, you will be positioning yourself to impress the employer with your knowledge and understanding of the organization and you will be able to show them how your skills and attributes make you a perfect fit.

(Written by Karen Bivand)

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