A regularly neglected or misunderstood area of preparing for a job interview is that of researching the organisation.
When it is neglected, the candidate just reads a few lines on the company website and dresses that up as research. It’s shallow, and everybody else is doing the same.
Misunderstood, it involves extensive reading and some meetings, but no plan for how all of this will be put to good effect in the interview. Frequently, in this scenario, people devote long hours to the task but because they don’t really know what to do with what they are finding out, they become overwhelmed with information of no ultimate value to them.
Here are some key points to think about when researching the company:
Know the overall story of the company – where they have come from, how their market has changed, how they have diversified.
Know what the company is specifically focusing on these days - new products, different approaches, taking on or laying off, new plants etc.
Know the competition – who is stealing their clothes, who is coming up on the outside, who has been there forever, how they are operating in the market.
Know what the job entails – what you are expected to do, what you should achieve, seasonal peaks and troughs.
If applicable, know how the last person fared out in the role – what they did well, what they struggled with, where they went.
If you can thread all of that together, you have good, relevant information at your disposal.
You should introduce this information right throughout the interview. Don’t wait for the "what do you know about us?" question. It’s too late then: you have missed open goals along the way.
In almost every answer, bring in something relevant about the company or exact role you’re seeking. This onus rests squarely with you. They may not ask, but you score more points if you tell them anyway. Remember, their chief area of interest is what exact elements of your skills, achievements, characteristics and experience will be of value to them. That’s the sweet spot. Go there.
In this way, the interview can turn into a knowledgeable conversation - and that is a great point to reach in an interview.
If you only talk about your past, and fail to relate it to the future, just one hand is clapping. Get both clapping and you will see their heads nodding.
Do not rely on them picking it up on the ether – tell them specifically. Try it in practice. It’s easier than you think. Next week, I will talk about how you might actually carry out that research – and, again, it is easier than many candidates think.
Sli Nua Careers have offices in Athlone and eight other locations nationwide. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, job-searching strategies, public speaking and presentation skills, and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com/athlone or call (090 ) 6403003