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.
Are you looking for your next job? Find it on AARP's Job Board
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.