Editor's Note: This post was originally published April 2018 and has recently been updated and revised for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
In business, knowledge and preparation are always huge advantages. That applies to the job search and hiring processes as well. Before you walk into any interview, you should learn as much as you can about the organization you hope to work for and the position you want to fill.
Thoroughly researching a business can make all the difference when you're striving to take the next step in your career. With plenty of knowledge in your back pocket, you'll be ready to provide thoughtful answers to questions and show your enthusiasm for taking on a new opportunity. Keep these guidelines in mind when you're getting ready for an interview:
Seek out quality information
Start by looking at a company description to gain a general understanding of a company's history and what products and services it offers. A new player on the scene will often have very different priorities and attitudes from a veteran firm.
Focus on developing a sense of how a business differentiates itself in the marketplace, solving a problem or meeting a need more effectively than its competitors. A mission statement will tell you more about the company's values and culture, which will guide what hiring managers look for in new employees.
Read through any articles from the press featured on the site, taking note of how leaders talk about their business and what initiatives they seem most interested in promoting. These pieces may also tell you something about the competitive landscape a business operates in and some of the major problems it faces. They may also reveal something about how it engages with the community by partnering with nonprofit organizations or participating in local events.
Look for links to social media pages to find out what platforms a business uses and the voice it presents to the public. Note the level of formality, and see if there are any products or services that are currently being singled out for a lot of promotion. If there are any images of current employees, they may reveal a little bit about what it's like to work in that environment.
Take a strategic approach
Once you have a clear picture of an organization's areas of expertise, mission and culture, it's time to start thinking about the contribution you have to offer. By directing further research strategically, you may discover just how your own strengths fit into a company's future.
If you are not already an expert in the products or services a company specializes in, make a point to learn more. That way, you can give thoughtful responses to questions and be more specific about what you will bring to the table as an employee. Concentrate on the aspects of a business that seem to be most crucial to its edge in the marketplace and plans for ongoing growth.
Once you understand a company's strengths in depth, you also want to know more about the competition it faces. That way, you'll have a better idea of what makes the company your interviewing for different from others. Being prepared to discuss an industry in broader terms demonstrates genuine engagement and can make for a livelier conversation. By performing thorough research, you'll walk into an interview well prepared and confident.
Make your preparation count at the interview
Once you're in the room for your interview, you'll need to showcase what you've learned. There's no need to mention every fact you've gleaned or rattle off precise figures. Instead, try to weave the insights from your research into the discussion naturally.
Your goal should be to demonstrate that not only do you have the skills and experience to succeed in a job, but you're excited about getting started. Showing a sincere interest in a company's recent activities and the industry that it operates in can be a great way to make yourself stand out. Hiring managers are more likely to make an offer to someone who walks through the door well prepared and showing enthusiasm for tackling the challenges ahead.
Professional education is a powerful way to ensure you confidently rise to the occasion at your next interview. New Horizons Career Development Solutions offers free webinars that will provide you with valuable tips for pursuing the next step in your career. Courses from New Horizons will give you a deep dive into the skills you need to pursue your next opportunity. Schedule a Free Career Consultation today.
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