Getting an interview confirmation can be an exciting time. It can also be quite a stressful time. You know you need to prep but, how much? And for what?
There are three keys to interview success. One is confidence, another is your resonance with the interviewer and third is your knowledge about the company and field. All three can be found, or at least vastly improved, by doing the right research. And that starts with researching the company you’re interviewing with.
This article is Part 1. of a two part series. Part 2, “Things You Should Know About Yourself Before an Interview”, can be read here.
When you start working for a company, that specific company plays a much larger role in your life than other similar brands or companies. Sounds obvious. But, while as an external candidate you may have a list of 20 companies you’d happily work for, no employer wants to know this. They want to know what you know about them specifically and trust you have a good understanding of what sets them apart.
If you’re prepping for an interview somewhere, here is a key checklist of things you should know before you go.
The Company’s Point of Difference
What would this company tell a potential customer about themselves, in order to try and win business? What is their core belief that sets them apart? Why do they need to exist amongst their competitors? You should have a clear understanding of this to use as a basis for explaining why you are drawn to them.
The Role You’re Interviewing for in Detail
If you have a job description for the role, you should read this really carefully. You’re often asked in interviews to explain the role “in your own words”. Unless you’re at top-manager/C-Suite level where it can be impactful to flip the script, you should use some of their words as your words. The response we’re after here is: “yes, I think you have a good grasp of what we’re looking for.”
Who Is Interviewing You and Their Background
Importantly not so that you can share it, in a bid to prove you’ve done your research. That can come across as creepy and sycophantic. No, the role of this is so that you can get a sense of things to bring up and also things it would be safer not to bring up. For example, you may have a previous shared company with your interviewer. Or, they may have worked somewhere you were going to use as an example case study. Best to know and then you can strategise around that.
Any Recent or Relevant Controversy about Them in the Press, Including Industry Specific Press
For that moment your interviewer says: “As I’m sure you’re aware it’s been a tricky six months for us” and you have no idea what they’re talking about. I worked with Uber for a period of time, and every day was like this.
Company Size and Location of Their Key Offices
This will give you a good sense of the scale of the company, their key markets and how they are structured globally.
Their Key Clients
While not relevant for all roles, if the company does work with a client portfolio you should know who the key ones are. You should also try and get an understanding of whether these relationships are long term, or just a one off. It could throw the interview off if you talk in detail about wanting to be involved in a specific partnership, which is now 5years out of date.
Work They’re Proud Of
Whether this be strategic, analytical or creative, what is the work you would be proud to have been involved in? Equally, what have you seen them do that you don’t rate so highly? These questions offer you the opportunity to show your working knowledge of a company. They also give you the chance to show your opinions and how you’re likely to add value on the way.
And, as a bonus… the state of the industry and potential growth areas for the company. What might be some of the challenges they are facing or are going to face? As an external candidate you have the distance to form an interesting perspective on this.