There’s no substitute for exceptional preparation prior to a job interview—there’s no excuse for a lack of it, either.
We have countless resources at our fingertips that offer outstanding insight into the organizations we’re courting and the people who will be interviewing us.
This brings us to the latest installment of Ragan Communications Chief Marketing Officer Mandy Zaransky’s top five tips for a successful interview, No. 4 on her list of the “Four P’s”: Be prepared.
Researching the organization is essential for any candidate who’s received the long-awaited call or email that they’ve made it to the interview stage. However, knowing some background about the interviewer is crucial, too.
“Thanks to Twitter, I found out my interviewer was into soccer, so I made that a part of the conversation. I discovered a lot of food pictures on another interviewer’s Instagram account, which made it a safe topic to find discussion points to talk about.”
These are just a few of the ways Zaransky says she’s used social media to learn more about past interviewers.
“LinkedIn is another great platform for researching the person who will conduct your interview,” she says. ” It’s a roadmap of your interviewer’s career journey. Look for similarities between the interviewer and yourself. Study their path so you can incorporate and reference tidbits of that information into a question or two during the interview.
“It never hurts to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework and have a sense of the audience. Anything that is public facing is a good place to look for information.”
Finding out everything you can about your interviewer is a crucial piece of the interview puzzle. This will help you establish a rapport with them and ease the stress of answering their questions. It also gives them a reason to remember you.
Of course, you’ll want to do more in-depth research into the organization, too.
You should go into the interview expecting to hear, “So, tell me a little bit about what you know about our organization.” This is a pivotal moment in the interview, and if you panic or freeze, this could signal to the interviewer that you haven’t done your homework.
“Know the company; know the products.” These are two of the most important things that an interviewee must know going into an interview, Zaransky says.
Start with the website; this digital face of the organization offers the best starting point for any research you’ll need.
Do not just skim the website. Go through it with a fine-tooth comb. Find the organization’s mission, read its blog, get to know the organization’s team (if the website shares that information), and review the organization’s past work. Assume there are no unimportant links.
Next, find every additional resource that offers valuable information about the organization.
Social media platforms aren’t only great places for getting background on your interviewer; they’re also wonderful resources for researching the organization. Visit its LinkedIn page, find reviews and customer testimonials on its Facebook page, and go through the organization’s Twitter posts. This extra effort will pay off in your interview.
In The Muse’s “The ultimate interview guide: 30 prep tips for job interview success,” its first seven tips fall under the heading, “Know your audience.”
You must research the organization and the people who will be conducting your interview, according to this piece.
It offers several ways to gain that vital understanding, including this advice:
Spend a few hours learning everything you can about the company—from as many sources as you can. Talk to friends and contacts, read current news releases, and, yes, spend some time on Google. Often, candidates just look at the information a company is pushing out via the website and social media, but fail to look more in depth at what others are saying. By doing so, you’ll get the larger picture about the company (along with any negative press).
Don’t stop with the website; exhaust every available resource.
When gathering background about interviewers, it says:
Before your interview, get a list of the people you’re meeting with from the company. Then, learn more about them—including what type of behavior might intrigue them or turn them off. Finally, prep some questions that are specific to each interviewer: Ask for details about her focus at the firm, discuss current events on his specialty, or bring up a common interest you know he or she has outside the office.
The finish line is in sight, but this is no time to coast through the homestretch. You’ve put a lot of effort into earning an interview; don’t let your hard work go to waste by failing to thoroughly prepare for the big moment.
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