We are sure you’ve been through a number of job interviews in the past, and somehow, you know how to do your homework before the interview – knowing what you are getting into.
Although it’s given that every candidate ought to research about the company they’re applying to before an interview, it’s a little unclear what to look for! Without direction, a candidate might drown in too much data. And the ugliest part about research without direction is that you could end up drowning in irrelevant information – information that won’t help you get the job!
Before we get down to our business for the day, let’s get into the head of the hiring team who will decide your fate as a job applicant.
What’s the main question every hiring manager asks as they evaluate candidates after a round of interviews? Most hiring managers say it’s this question: “Do they really want this job?”
Interestingly, most of the recruiters and human resource professionals we’ve talked to say that they immediately eliminated any prospective person who asked a question that could be found with very little effort on the company’s site, lamenting, “He didn’t even do any research before he came in.”
You know that courting a company for a job is a little bit like courting a lady for a “yes” (to a date or to something else more serious and long-term, IFYKWIM). You have to know your prospect beyond the basics.
So, without further ado, here are the essential facts you have to know about a company before an interview.
1. What and Who the Company Is
Getting to know your prospective company is a must. Get a good grasp on what its place in the market is, who makes up the company, what its major products are, who are its competitors, and how to pronounce the company and its product’s names (yes, it’s a shame to not know how to pronounce your prospective company’s name or its products). Does the company have a number of office locations in the country, region, or world? If yes, you have to know where.
Why is it important to know all this information? The interviewer might not even ask you to say something about the company, its products, or its place in the market. But as you discuss your potential role in the organization, a good knowledge about this basic information can effectively build your value up! Knowing who the company is, what it does, what its gambits and prospects are, makes it easier for you to put forward a strong statement: I know exactly what you need and I am the best person to help you.
2. Industry Gambits, Prospects, and Trends
Researching about the trends in the industry you wish to work for will give you an indication of ongoing, relevant ideas concerning the industry. Having that knowledge and awareness of what is happening in the industry at large will make you sound informed and geared up.
When that moment in an interview when the interviewer asks you if you have any questions, you can inquire about trends’ impact on the company and its business strategy. You can go in-depth by asking, for example, how cloud computing has impacted HR and recruiting practices (I actually have no idea what cloud computing is). The point is, you can start any conversation (relevant conversation) that will rivet your interviewers and make them say, “Wow, this candidate really seems passionate about the job and the company.”
3. The Business Strategy
Employers hire employees in order for it to achieve its business goals – to win in the marketplace. The perfect candidate, therefore, is someone who have the ability to somehow make that happen.
As such, you have to learn, or at least, have an idea about its business strategy. During the interview, you can try to make connections that show you have a grasp of the overall plan.
How do you do this? Oh, Google.
If you want to know about Apple’s business strategy for the year 2015, simply key in “Apple 2015 strategy”. Then, you’ll see numerous articles from industry sources (e.g. Business Insider’s Tech Insider, Mashable, TechRadar, Forbes, etc.), detailing the gambits and prospects of Apple’s business maneuvers.
Sensitize yourself on the information relevant to the role you are vying for. And, hopefully, you find something relevant. At least by doing this, you now have a strategy information to ask about and comment on. And, you can easily make your point and sell yourself to the company better.
4. The Company Culture
There are companies which rank their culture as top priority, aside from employee skills and experience. And you have to find out if the company you are applying to is one.
A company’s value system is typically enshrined on its website. Study it. See how you and your personality will match the company’s values and culture. Remember that when a company cares about engendering a certain kind of culture, you will definitely be asked about how you would fit in, or if your work style is a match.
Some companies value customer satisfaction, while others value optimal productivity through collaborative work (team-oriented).
5. Who the Competition Is
Most of the time you will be asked whom you see as your potential employer’s biggest competitors, and how your potential employer’s brand was better. That’s gonna be a tough question, if you haven’t done your homework right!
Researching this won’t be a problem, at least most of the time. A quick search for “biggest staffing firms in the Philippines”, for example, quickly results in the top companies, the home base, and (sometimes) their annual revenue.
6. The Reputation
The easiest, most convenient way of looking into an organization’s reputation is by checking their social media accounts and feeds. Look for updates, see how it responds to comments, consumers, and queries. Are they accommodating? Or is there an abundance of complaints?
You can check Glassdoor and look for the company reviews there. If the company does not have a Glassdoor account (a few Filipino companies have Glassdoor accounts), you can look for reviews on Facebook. Facebook also has its ratings and review sections in every company’s Facebook page.
Assessing a company’s reputation will help you get an informed sense of what the organization is like. This will give you insight about what kudos you can offer and what clarity you might need.
Be careful however when citing negative comments you’ve gathered through the social media. While you can turn this negative comments as a leverage to highlight what you might be able to help the employer address the problem, this is a delicate maneuver.
To be sure, be prepared with facts, statistics, and credible and informed insights. Speak intelligently about opportunities and challenges. This will actually demonstrate how you will help the company.
Hiring managers love candidates who do their homework. Candidates who have deep knowledge about the employer’s profile, for them, are candidates worthy of moving forward.