No matter how many job interviews you’ve done, or how polished your interview skills are – whenever you receive a new job interview invitation, there's one thing you must do: Research. Researching before a job interview is absolutely crucial. Knowing your stuff and being armed with the right information will greatly increase your chances of getting hired. On the other hand, you could very well be automatically and irreversibly disqualified the moment your interviewer realizes that you haven’t done your homework. It's super easy to tell whether a candidate has done enough research. It’s never a good idea to “wing it” in an interview. Here are 7 things that you should absolutely know before getting to the hot seat:
1. The company’s vision and mission statements. These statements are usually found under the about us section of a company’s website. They communicate very concisely the who, what, why, and how of an organization; they reflect the company’s long-term goals and the bigger picture that the company endeavours and envisions. You can try to incorporate these concepts or ideas in your interview conversation to show that what you strive for aligns with the company’s values and mission.
2. The company’s products and services. You don't have to be an expert in all their products and services, but it is strongly recommended to spend a little time going over what the company offers to their customers. What if you were asked to demo the software that the company develops during the interview? What if you were asked to explain their services as if you were a representative of the company talking to a potential customer? You might even want to prepare a 30 second elevator pitch of the company's products and services if you want to really impress your interviewer.
3. The company’s culture. It is extremely important that you understand the company's culture prior to an interview. A company is always looking to fill the job opening with someone who's values, behaviour, and vibe align with the culture to increase the likelihood that apart from performing well, the new hire will work well in the company and with their colleagues. Check out Company Culture 101 to learn more.
4. The company’s core values. What are some keywords that the company associates with? What values do they stand behind? This information can help you gain a pretty accurate idea of the skills and experience they are looking for in an employee. Positioning yourself as someone that shares the same values could help you stand out from other candidates. Let's pretend that you're attending a job interview at EY (previously Ernst & Young). On their Our Values page, they clearly state that they are people with energy, enthusiasm, and the courage to lead. So be prepared to communicate your drive to succeed, your eagerness to learn and your ambition to grow and develop in the company.
5. The company’s recent news and events. When a company wants to fill an opening, they look for someone that is excited and passionate about what they are doing. Spend some time going over the company’s past news, updates, events, on their website and on social media. Be knowledgeable about the company’s progress; show your interviewer that you have taken a genuine interest in the company.
6. The key players in the company and the person scheduled to interview you. Check out their profile, background, interests, etc. It’s always a good idea to know who you will be meeting with beforehand. Use the information to prepare and strategize on what you can do to make the conversation between you and your interviewer a meaningful and impactful one. This will help you form a stronger connection and increase your chance of success. Find a commonality if you can whether it be where you grew up, what university/college you attended, or what sport you are both passionate about. You can use these little details to ingratiate yourself to the interviewer without going over the top with flattery or complements.
7. What do the employees think about the company? Do you check movie ratings before watching a movie or restaurant reviews before trying out a new restaurant? Of course, if you want to know if it is worth your time or money. The same logic can be applied to a company. Check what other employees think about the company before you go into an interview. This will allow you to hear from different perspectives and provide you with a more accurate picture of what it feels like to work in the company. If you stumble upon something that you would like to clarify, you can note it down and bring up the topic at the end of your interview. Don't know where to start? Glassdoor is a great resource for company reviews. The reviewers are anonymous so you can be sure that the opinions are honest.