When it comes to pulling off a great job interview, knowledge is power. The 30-60 minutes that you spend with a hiring manager in an initial interview is your one chance to make a great impression and get your foot in the door. Every second that the interviewer spends briefing you on the position, its responsibilities and the company is time that you could be using to form a bond with this person. If you’re adequately prepared for the interview with research on the role, the company, the industry and even the interviewer, you can use these precious minutes far more effectively than if you were just nodding along to their usual spiel on the position. In order to stand out as memorable against the dozens of other people that are being interviewed, you need to spend as little+ time on the basics as possible and that means doing your homework.
The first thing that you should do in preparation for your job interview is visit the company’s website. Familiarize yourself with the company’s mission statement, products or services and history. Where was this company 5 years ago? Where do they plan to be 5 years from now? Use the “about us” section of the company’s website to learn everything that you can about the company’s culture and identity that you possibly can. Besides this information being crucial to your success in the interview, this research gives you a chance to evaluate the company as a fit for you. Could you honestly picture yourself working within the company culture or would you find yourself at odds with this employer from the very start?
The hiring manager that you interview with will undoubtedly ask you some form of the question “What made you want to apply to this position?” This is where you put your research to work. In your answer, talk about how impressed you were with the company’s recent accomplishments in their industry, the interest you have in working toward the continuing success of their product or service and/or how appealing their work environment sounds to you. Though the hiring manager will probably still have a lot to say about the company, it looks a lot better when you’re the one who’s bringing up the basics. This will also free up a lot of time for you to get into the finer points of the position with the hiring manager and relate with them on a personal and professional level.
Another useful thing to research before the interview is the interviewer. Instead of going in blind, use the company’s website and social networks like LinkedIn to get a better idea of who you’re dealing with. How long have they worked in their industry and for their company? Do you have anything in common, such as mutual professional contacts or an alma mater? If you went to the same college or worked for the same company in the past, you already have a bond with this hiring manager, greatly increasing your chances of forming a great connection with them on interview day. In today’s competitive job market, you need every advantage that you can get and being armed with as much information as possible on interview day is one of the best ways to get an edge on the competition.