Do Your Homework with Pre-Interview Research

The Importance of Company, Industry, People and Position Research for Job Candidates

Do Your Homework with Pre-Interview Research

Hiring managers and recruiters expect candidates to have done their homework! You have an opportunity to impress them, whether applying for an internship or a job. It has never been easier to become knowledgeable and informed.

Company Research:

You will need to understand what the company or organization does every day. What do they sell? How are they successful? What is their value proposition and mission? What opportunities are they pursuing? What challenges are they facing? How is their stock price trending? Start by checking out the company website. While you are online, see what social channels they use so you can “follow” or “like” them for more information.

Industry and Competitive Research:

One of the best ways to get hired is to be a candidate who knows the industry and it’s language. Make sure you understand the key issues and opportunities in the industry. Who are the leading companies that make up the industry? How are they competitive with your targeted company? Learn the big topics related to growth, opportunity as well as risk. Are there any big news stories or recent successes? To find out industry information, find industry newsletters and online communities. Check the LinkedIn and Facebook groups for your industry. Follow what is being discussed. Find out the relevant hashtags for your industry so you can follow on Twitter. If you love networking like I do, try to meet the industry experts at events or approach them on your own.

People Research:

Find out the name of all the people you will be meeting at your interview. Every one of them matters. You might interview with one or two people and have a quick handshake with a third person. Try to find out the key names ahead of time. I recommend you look them all up on LinkedIn and make a few notes for yourself. Find out exactly what their job is now and the responsibilities. Learn where they previously worked and went to college. Check out any mutual connections. If one of your close connections knows one of your interviewers, it’s a great idea to call your friend to find out a bit more about him or her. Ask your friend: what is his work style, what energizes her and what is his pet peeve? The more you know about your interviewers the more you can use that information to impress him or her. In the LinkedIn profile, check to see if he listed his twitter handle so you can see what he is tweeting.

Position Research:

Read the job description very carefully. You might want to go onto LinkedIn and look for other people that have the same or similar jobs. Go to Advanced Search, enter the title and company. Find out the career paths and education of the folks that already have this job. If you know one of these people, call them to get some advice on the role and how to best interview.

How to use all this research?

You can decide if you want to engage with your prospective employer on social media before an interview or wait until afterwards. You do NOT want to tweet about your upcoming interview, but it’s a good idea “follow”, “like” or “pin” the company. I recommend that you defer connecting on LinkedIn until after you have had your interview and are confident that the interviewer would be receptive. You should definitely use your company and industry research to formulate killer questions that show your expertise. Your research into the position and department will help you to articulate how your skills match the requirements. Your thorough research is a key to a very successful search.

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© Copyright 2013. Sandra Long. All rights reserved.

Sandra Long

Sandra Long is the author of the bestselling book LinkedIn For Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide. She is also the managing partner of Post Road Consulting LLC. Sandra and her team work with corporations, universities, and individuals to drive successful sales, career, and talent acquisition results.


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