It’s no brainer that you should research a company before your interview. Job Seekers have to approach the interview armed with knowledge. You’ll never get the job if the interviewer thinks you are just going through the motions or that you think it’s all about you. You have to convince them that you know the big picture and that you believe it’s all about the company. You communicate this by knowing about the company’s achievements, philosophy, and press coverage. Improving your interviewing skills by building self-confidence and knowledge of the target will make you stand out.
After a client interviewed with the huge online retailer, Zappos, we recapped his experience and we discovered that he told the interviewer he felt strongly about working hard and not goofing around in the workplace. Maybe Zappos wasn’t the right place for him to work because I read him the Human Resources philosophy right off their website. Create Fun And A Little Weirdness. Miss that and you miss out. Period.
RESEARCH “The Easy Stuff”
Read company website. Pay particular attention to value statements and philosophy statements. Hunt for the company’s current goals. Then Google the company for News. Look on the left side of the Google panel and select the NEWS filter to find what has been published about the company. A great way to emphasize your strong desire to work for the company is to quote a recent article. When asked, “Why do you want to work for us?” you’ll be armed with knowledge about what is going on in the company and what the press reports about them.
RESEARCH “The In-depth Stuff”
This is where the LinkedIn network you have been building starts to pay off. Under advanced search, enter the company name with current or past filter included. First off, you are looking for one of your contacts who worked for the company. The second tier is to find a contact of a contact and get introduced. The third tier is to find a LinkedIn Member who is most likely to know the hiring manager, whether you have a connection or not.
The purpose of this effort is to discover things about the interviewer. What skills will they be focusing in on? What’s his or her history, in case you have something in common like a college? What are his or her likes, hobbies, and personal passions? Now, be careful not to sound like a stalker or phisher by asking personal questions that might raise red flags. Keep family and religion out of the discussion. Armed with this kind of information, you will enter the interview room with confidence. You will score points and build rapport. You will stand out. Connecting with the interviewer is so important. Delivering information in the style they prefer is key. Managers’ like to hire people just like themselves. Thus if the hiring manager is a laid-back jokester, loosen up a bit.
SECRET TIP “Using the third tier.”
Don’t know anyone at the company or have a contact that does? Cold call someone on the LinkedIn list. You can send them a message via LinkedIn, or Google them to find out contact information. Do a little quick research on them as well. “Can you help out a fellow alumnus with some advice?” Be up front and tell them you have an interview scheduled and want their advice on how to put your best foot forward with the hiring manager. You will find that since you’re asking their advice, and not trying to sell them something, most people will be pleased to help out the guy or gal trying to get a job. Years ago, I contacted a fellow who worked for a target company. He had moved on to work abroad in London. Nevertheless, he was extremely helpful in sharing insights. I think he was just happy to talk to a Yankee about anything. Now, be careful not to sound like a stalker or phisher by asking personal questions that might raise red flags. Keep family and religion out of the conversation.
Don’t get discouraged if the first person you contact isn’t helpful. Maybe you caught them at a bad time. Keep trying. Vary your approach.
Are you getting the idea? Job Searchers, it’s not about you! It’s about the company, the hiring manager, and how you can fit into their plans for success.