By Liz Carmack
Learn what you must do next after landing the job interview to impress interviewers and make the best decision should you be offered the position. Our short-hand guide tells you what to research and how.
“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”
Arthur Ashe, American tennis player and first African-American male to win the U.S. Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon
Sure, job hunting requires research. But the real work begins after you land an interview.
If you conduct thorough research about the company and position ahead of your interview, you’ll stand out from the pack of candidates. You’ll have the chance to demonstrate your knowledge about the company and the position you seek, as well as articulate why you’re the best fit. And you can make an informed decision about whether to accept a job offer should you receive one.
Here’s a short-hand guide on what to research as you prepare for a job interview, including a few sources to tap:
Research the company
You probably researched the company before you decided to apply for the opening; now’s the time to dig deeper. For a start, here are a few questions you should try to answer before your interview:
What’s the company’s industry and product or service? What are its mission and values? How many employees? How many offices and where are they? Who are the company’s leaders? Where does the company stand on environmental or other issues that matter to you? What is the company culture like? What are the employee benefits?
Alison Doyle writes in How and Why to Research a Company, “… after all your research, you will be a well-prepared candidate for the position. Knowing specifics about the company’s goals, mission, products, policies, and company culture will impress upon the hiring manager your keen interest in the position, and your ability to assimilate quickly into a productive role.”
If you ask no questions during the interview or ask questions that could have easily been answered through research, it communicates, “I don’t really care about landing this job.” From my experience interviewing job applicants, these candidates were never asked back for a second interview, much less offered the position.
“Rather than having them explain to you what the company does, you want to know that already, and to instead ask specific questions about the role you are applying for, which also makes you look professional and respectful of their time,” writes Kattie Throndyke in How to Research a Company You Want to Work For.
Your first stop should be the company website. Take the time to read through as much of it as possible. Pay particular attention to pages such as About Us, Who We Are, Our Team, Our Mission, Jobs, Careers, News and News Releases. The site may also include blog posts by company leaders – read them.
Next, check the employer’s social media feeds. You’ll learn about its customers and the tone the company uses (i.e., casual, formal) to address them. While you’re perusing social media, read company leaders’ posts. Also, search for news coverage about the organization in the relevant trade and industry magazines as well as local and national media.
In addition, visit the Glassdoor and Indeed websites to read company reviews written by employees, learn about salaries and more.
Your personal and professional networks can also be a great resource. Use LinkedIn to see which of your connections work at your prospective employer or are connected to those who do. Reach out for an insider’s take on the organization and its culture.
Research the position
The more you know about the position you are interviewing for, the more clearly you can articulate how your skills and experience align with what is needed. And the better you’ll know whether you want the job after all.
“If possible, research similar positions and read reviews from individuals in those positions, so you can get an idea of what the day-to-day activities will be,” writes Hanne Keiling in How to Prepare for an Interview in 11 Steps.
Look up the job title or terms used in the job description if they are unfamiliar. The company website can provide clues about which department this position is in, its size, where it fits into the org chart, and how it supports the company’s mission.
Your network contacts might know specifics about the position’s internal and external customers and the duties performed. They might also know if this is a recently created job opening or, if it’s not, why the person in the position left. If possible, figure out who the hiring manager is through your contacts or by studying the company website. Learn what you can about them.
This additional information will help you better assess the work environment and your potential for autonomy and professional growth should you land the job.
Prepare answers and questions for your interviewers
Lastly, turn your research into thoughtful questions to be asked during the interview.
Sift through your work history and identify the training and experience you’ve had that will benefit the company and allow you to excel in this position. In addition, identify any weaknesses in your background that might come up and determine how you’ll address them.
Did you hit a dead end with some of your digging? Plan a few questions for your interviewers that will fill in those information gaps.
“If you have questions about the workplace environment, culture, personality or values, be sure to ask during the interview. … Remember that the interview is just as much about you finding a good fit for your own work environment as it is about the company finding a good fit for the role,” writes Keiling.
Inquiring about what a typical workday looks like, how much time will be spent in meetings, and the challenges of this role will help you better assess the position and decide if it’s right for you. But save questions about how much sick and annual leave they offer for when you’re asked back to a second interview.
Job hunting can be tedious, hard work. If you’re lucky enough to land an interview for a position that you’re excited about, invest the time and effort to give it your best shot. Do your research. It’s worth every minute.
Liz Carmack is an award-winning writer, editor and author of two nonfiction books published by Texas A&M University Press. She has worked as a communications professional for almost four decades.
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