How to Get Ready for Your Next Job Interview
Do your homework by using these resources to learn about the company
En español | Success in an interview starts well before the video conference or in-person meeting. First, you must do a bit of homework. In fact, the Society of Human Resource Management recently asked some of its members about the warning signs that indicate to them that a candidate isn't the right fit, and “being unprepared” was a top response.
But, with so much information out there about companies, where should you be focusing your research skills to be most effective? Here are six places to start your sleuthing, some of which you may not have used during previous job searches.
The relationships you've built over the course of your career can be a gold mine of information for your next job interview, says Nadia Ibrahim-Taney, assistant director of career development at the University of Cincinnati's College of Business. You may know someone who works for your dream company — or who can introduce you to someone who does. These people can help you learn the company's priorities and goals, she says. Then, you can focus on those areas in your interview responses, she says.
Ibrahim-Taney used this technique and gained insights about her employer when she was interviewing for her current role, she says. Then, “when I interviewed, I was able to organically infuse that into some of the responses that I gave to more behavioral-based questions,” she adds.
Job boards — especially larger websites such as Indeed or Monster — aren't always the best places to find a job. The sheer volume of people responding to the adds make the odds of success challenging, says career expert Mark Anthony Dyson, of The Voice of Jobseekers podcast. But that doesn't mean they're not a good source of information. Look at a variety of the company's job ads, even ones for jobs you aren't interested in applying for. “See how their listings complement each other. What are they looking for? Where is the overlap?” he says. Look for phrases the company uses in its job ads and skill sets it's prioritizing.
The company's press room
Many companies have newsroom and, possibly, investor relations sections on their websites. On these pages, you may find the company's latest news releases, leadership biographies, annual reports and other information. This material is written from the viewpoint of the organization, so the documents can tell you directly what the company thinks about the new products or services it has added, along with personnel news, earnings reports, new initiatives and the like. This information can give you insight into the company's priorities and investments, Dyson says. Plus, you'll be equipped to discuss or ask questions about some of the company's new initiatives.
Search for media coverage of the company, both now and a few years back, to see what's being reported about the company. You can do this by typing the company's name into the Google search engine, then clicking on the filter just below the search box that says “News.” You may also wish to create a Google Alert so that you get a notification when new coverage has been published or released, Dyson suggests.
Ibrahim-Taney suggests checking out the company's social media profiles. The content may give you information about the company, employees and culture. If you know who you'll be meeting in your interview, look at their public-facing content on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for clues about their interests and expertise. You may find conversation-starters here, too. For example, if you went to the same college, that may be something to bring up casually in the conversation. Be careful not to be too personal, though.
Company review websites
Sites like Glassdoor, which posts anonymous employee reviews of companies, may provide some clues about a company, but should be taken with a grain of salt, Ibrahim-Taney says. If you see patterns in multiple reviews, that's one thing. “But the motivation of people who tend to go into an online space and write reviews — it tends to be negative,” she says.
These resources can help you get up to speed on the latest information about the company's initiatives, culture and people. This information can help you refine your interview answers to show you're informed and make a great impression in your interview.
Gwen Moran is a writer and author specializing in business and finance. Her work has appeared in many leading business publications and websites, including Entrepreneur, Kiplinger.com, Newsweek.com, and The Los Angeles Times Magazine.