Interviews are stressful enough, don't make them worse by not going in prepared. After all, if you're going to go through the trouble of finding a great job opening, applying for it and then going to the interview, you might as well make every bit of the effort pay off. One of the things that make applicants stand out during the interview process is an understanding of the company and the job.
The best way to do this is to research the company and find out more about what they do. This way, during the interview, you can talk about how your skills can best help them achieve their goals. For example, if you were applying for a job at a company like Starbucks, you could focus on your restaurant or retail sales experience. Talk about how you are comfortable taking orders and working a cash register. Who knows, it might be enough to get you hired.
However, with a little research on the company, you could market yourself a little differently. You could mention how you know how important getting the right cup of coffee is for their customers and how those customers expect a high degree of quality and personal service from the Starbucks brand. From there, you could talk about how your experience and skills make you well suited to the job because you share their commitment to excellence. Although the first strategy might be enough, this one will make you stand out.
So, how do you research an employer? Here are 5 ways to do it:
- LinkedIn or Facebook page - Almost every company has some sort of social media presence. Many of them have profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook, which is a great place to start. Larger companies may also have accounts with other social sites like Foursquare or Urban Spoon. Read over their profiles and try to get a feel for the company brand and the corporate culture. It's also a good idea to check out their website and read about their company mission or goals. Write down the main points so that you can understand the needs of the company.
- Products and services - Look at their products or services. In the earlier Starbucks example, you should go have a coffee at Starbucks. Be the customer and review your experience. What made it good? What made it bad? What could have made it better? Depending on the company, you may not be able to actually review their product, but before your interview, you should at least know what the company does or makes.
- Financial reviews - With larger companies, you can look at their financial reviews and stock market history. Find out if the company is in trouble or if they are growing. Although this information changes all the time, if the company's stock is on the rise, then you can assume that they are growing and trying to meet the demands that come along with rapid growth. If the stock has been in a dive for some time, they will probably be looking for ways to streamline their process, increase sales and regain their market share.
- Competitors - Find out who else does what the company does. Who are their main competitors? What advantages do they have? What are the other companies doing better?
- Direct contact - Sometimes the best way to find out about a company is to ask someone who works there. You can use social media to find people who work for the company and ask them about what they do and what the corporate culture is like. Talking with them will give you a better feel for the job and could even get you a recommendation as well.
No one likes to go into an interview blind, with no idea about who the company is and what the job entails. It's human nature to find out more. Just be sure that you find out the right information and use it to your best advantage.
Do you research companies before interviewing? If so, how do you use the information? Please share your thought in the comments.