THOUGHT PIECE the carling team

Company Homework – What’s Required To Be Prepared For Interview Questions?

taking-notesWhen you get to interview stage, it’s essential that you’re serious about your preparation.  Like most things in life, a candidate who’s well prepared will deliver a better interview than a candidate who has decided to leave their chances of securing the job in the lap of the Gods.  There are plenty of things you need to think about before you attend an interview, but one that’s often forgotten about is company research or company homework.

In this day and age, there’s an abundance of information in the public domain about companies both big and small and if you’re called for interview, it’s essential that you do your homework about the company that calls you.

Here are our Top Ten Tips to making sure you stand out at interview:

Think outside the box 

When it comes to finding out about a company and what really matters both inside and outside of the company walls, you need to be a bit of a detective.  It may well be that the company has a public image that it does everything in its might to maintain, but there could be threats and weaknesses that are lurking in the background.  If you can unveil these threats and weaknesses and then put a positive twist on them, you’re more likely to be able to put your finger on the pulse of what’s really important to the decision-makers or what’s behind the position you’re applying for.

Look beyond the company website

The obvious place to start any company research is the company’s own website.  However, this is the place where the company says what they want to say about themselves, rather than necessarily revealing the reality.  While it’s essential that you use the information you get on the website as a lead to exploring other avenues and developing an overall view of the company, make it your business to look well beyond this resource.

Google the company as if your life depended on it

When you Google even the smallest of companies, it’s not unusual to get pages and pages of results.  While some of these results will be repetitions of the same information and might well be extracts from the company website, it’s well worth digging deep in the search results to see if you come across any golden nuggets of information.  If you do find some nuggets, then you should use those as your Satnav for finding juicier information about the company.

Google your interviewer

It is useful to be aware of the interests and the public profile of the person or people who will interview you.  Again Google is a great resource for this task.  All you need is their full name and title and once more, you’re likely to find pages and pages of results.  Look selectively and try to discover if they have any pet interests or particular specialisms that you could incorporate into your interview.

Google yourself

While this isn’t completely related to finding out about the company, while you’re on the Google subject, you should check out what comes up about you in searches.  You can rest assured that your interviewer (or one of his or her colleagues) will have done this and by checking out the results yourself you can make sure you have all bases covered if there’s anything online about you that might be in any way controversial.

Take advantage of the social media

The social media is a great way of finding out what’s really on a company’s agenda.  By checking them out on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, not only will you get a feel for what’s topical in their world, but you’ll normally get a birds-eye view of what’s happening in their clients’ or customers’ interactions with them.  This information can be hugely valuable and is worth checking right up to the day of your interview, so you’re completely up to date.

Ask your agency for support

Any agency that’s worth their salt will want to help you as much as they possibly can when it comes to obtaining company information.  The chances are, a good agency will know their client well and will know what makes them tick; so don’t forget to ask your agency contact for help.

Look wider

When you’re looking at a company, it’s always a good idea to look at it in context.  The company will be part of a sector and the sector and the company will have opportunities and threats on the go in the marketplace at any one time.  Knowing what’s topical in the sector as well as what’s going on globally that might affect the company shows that you really understand the big picture.

Develop a view

Once you’ve done your homework, you’ll have a view on the company; it’s only human.  While it’s never a good idea to go into any interview with ‘all guns blazing’ about your personal viewpoint, an intelligent and researched view on the company will help you stand out in a crowd.  Work hard to develop a view on the company’s position as well as its strengths and weaknesses and give evidence to back up your view.

Prepare the delivery of your view

Once you have your view, you need to set about putting words around it so it is presented positively and in context with the job vacancy.  You should aim to demonstrate clearly that you understand the company, its position in the market and the challenges that it’s facing as well as how you can help add value to the overall equation.

Good luck.