Interview prep: The importance of doing your research
Feeling anxious about an upcoming job interview? Knowing how to prepare may be the difference between landing that dream job and writing your tenth cover letter. Before meeting with the hiring manager, it is important to do your research on both the company and the role you’re applying for, to better prepare you for the interview. So, what exactly should you research to make the best first impression?
The company’s culture, vision and values
Before you go for an interview, it’s important to not only research what the company does, but also understand its values, vision and strategic direction. The company’s values will theoretically make up the foundation for the manner in which the company does business, and can usually be found in a company’s About Us section on their website.
Understanding a company’s values will not only impress the hiring manager, but will also allow you to determine if these values align with your own and if the company is the right fit for you. A company’s vision and strategic direction will give you valuable insight into the direction the company is moving towards, and therefore how your job might progress there moving into the future.
A good way to gain greater insight into the company culture is to look at its social media accounts. From here you may be better able to understand the kind of environment that the workplace promotes.
The company’s clients, products and services
A major part of understanding the company, and your potential in it, is through researching the company’s target market and products or services. Try to find out the audience they are targeting, where they sit in the market and who their competitors are.
Showing you understand and are interested in the company’s services and its client base will further highlight your enthusiasm and knowledge. Most companies will list its major clients on its website. Reading blogs or articles and observing the audience that comments on the company’s social posts will also give you better insight into the target market.
Projects, achievements and industry news
Most hiring managers will expect you to have a basic understanding of what the company does, but if you show you are also on top of industry news and company projects, you will make an even better first impression.
Find out what the company has been doing lately, including recent projects, events, product launches or shows. It helps to keep up with where the company is at, so you can make parallels between these and your own skills and experience. It’s also a good idea to read up on industry news and trends, which will show you are genuinely interested and can keep the conversation flowing. Most companies will have a dedicated page on their website for press releases and events, but a Google search will also be useful in this case.
What does the role entail?
Aside from researching the company, it is also crucial to understand the role you’re applying for, as it shows you will have a good understanding of the work you’ll be performing and what will be expected of you. While no hiring manager will expect you to know the exact intricacies of the role before the interview, you should have a good knowledge of the job description and what you would be required to do. From this, you will have a firm idea of where and how you can contribute to the business and prepare to discuss why you would be the ideal candidate.
If you don’t understand parts of the role based on the ad, try Googling it or ask peers in the industry. This way, when it comes to the interviewer asking questions, you will seem well informed and committed. Remember that asking questions is a critical part of the interview, but asking unconsidered questions could make you seem unqualified, so always do your research.
Preparing for an interview may seem like common sense, but when nerves get the better of us, we can sometimes let our preparation slip. This is where prior research is critical.
If you’re looking for more advice on how to best prepare for an interview, check out our Ultimate Interview Guide, which is filled with useful strategies and techniques.