Doing research on the company you’re interviewing with is key for many reasons. Not only will it make make for a better interview, but it will also show potential employers that you’re someone who prepares for things.
On the other hand, if you go in planning to wing it and ask questions that could easily be answered by a quick perusal of the employer’s website, your lack of preparedness will convey a lack of interest in the job and the company. No employer wants a candidate who seems disinterested.
Here are a few things that you should research before walking into your next interview:
1. The Company Culture
Companies don’t just hire people to do jobs. They hire people who fit within their organizations and their cultures and are also capable of doing the job. So it’s very important to do research on the company’s culture and mission. You’ll want to be sure you can identify with those things and really see yourself fitting in.
2. The Context in Which the Company Lives
Companies don’t exist in a vacuum. They exist in generally competitive marketplaces and work every day to achieve more and more market share within their industries. It’s critical to come prepared with a solid understanding of where the company fits within the current market and who its biggest competitors are so you can show that you not only are capable of doing the job, but also understand the company’s overall position.
3. The Bigger Picture
When you understand the company’s place in the market, you’ll be able to better explain how you can help the company achieve its goals – which is ultimately why the company is looking to hire someone in the first place.
When a company hires someone, they’re making an investment. You have to be able to show that you’re worth that investment and can offer good returns. The only way to do that is to show you understand the bigger picture – i.e., the company’s goals and mission.
4. Your Audience
It’s just as important to research your interviewers as it is to research the company itself. Look at the hiring manager’s LinkedIn profile and educate yourself on their background. If you can also learn some things about the other members of the team – even if you aren’t scheduled to meet with them just yet – go for it. You’ll learn valuable things about the backgrounds of the people who get hired within the department. You may see a pattern.
If you don’t, you may mention that you looked at your potential colleagues’ backgrounds, trying to find the common thread of what makes a good hire for the organization, and then ask the hiring manager to elaborate. Or, you can mention that you’re thrilled to be considered for a role on a team where the members have such impressive backgrounds. Either way, the efforts you took to prepare for the interview will not go unnoticed.
5. The Product
If you’re interviewing with a product-driven company, you should know the ins and outs of how that product works (within reason). You should also know how the product was received by consumers and how it’s doing in comparison to its competitors. If you don’t know this info in basic terms, you really shouldn’t be interviewing for the job.
Product-based companies often ask applicants how they see the product in the marketplace and what they think the company is doing right or wrong vis-a-vis the competition. Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. Would you hire someone who couldn’t answer that question?
Your answer doesn’t have to be 100 percent correct, but it has to show you’ve spent considerable time thinking about it.
Toss the Script
Finally, it should be noted that memorization is a dangerous path when it comes to job interviews. You want to come across as naturally as possible. The interview should feel like a real conversation, not like you’re firing off rehearsed responses.
Of course, you should know why you want to work for the company overall. You should also be well-versed in what the job entails. You should do your research diligently. But once you’re in the room, you need to do what actors do on stage: Trust in your preparation and react naturally in the moment.
Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing‘s resident career expert.