If you’re lucky enough to know someone who works at the company, or even someone who knows someone who works at that company, you can find a goldmine of information that will help you prepare for your interview.
If you know someone who knows the hiring manager, you’ve hit the mother lode! You can now get some insider information about out exactly what that person is looking for and can speak to that in your interview.
The Job Posting
It should be pretty obvious that you should read the job posting carefully but I’m continually amazed at how many applicants I see that haven’t done this. As a Hiring Manager, I tell you exactly what I’m looking for in the job posting, so use that information!
What skills and experience does it specifically list? Make sure you can state your experience and skills in terms of how they match the job. You’ll then be able to answer interview questions in a way that demonstrates how your skills can help that company.
In all my (many!) years as a hiring manager, I can tell you that about 90% of the candidates I’ve interviewed knew very little about my company and/or the position for which they were interviewing.
I will tell you straight up that if you come into your interview as the most knowledgeable and prepared candidate, you will almost certainly be one of the finalists (of course, assuming you are otherwise qualified).
What If You Can’t Find Any Information?
This can certainly happen if your interview is with a small or newly formed company.
Even though small companies will likely have a web site, it may not contain much more than the location and a short description of their services.
New companies may not have much information available other than what’s on the website. There may not yet be any press releases or other information available for searching.
If you find this to be the case, you’ll need to modify your preparation strategy by using the following two ways of overcoming a lack of available information.
First, do research about the nature of the position and how you are the ideal person for that type of job. Here’s an example.
Let’s say you’re interviewing at a small real estate office for a receptionist position. Since there isn’t much specific information available about that office, you’re going to show that you know how to be successful in that position regardless of the company.
You could mention you read statistics in a recent article that real estate offices get over 40% of their new customers as a result of referrals from existing customers. And that almost half of the referrals were a result of a positive experience with the office staff. Play this up by saying that’s why you always work hard to make sure the patients are delighted with the office.
This tells the hiring manager that you understand how that particular position can help the company. This is a very powerful way to show you’ve done your homework, even though there was no information available specific to that company.
A second way to overcome lack of company information is to show you are knowledgeable about the industry and what it takes to help the company succeed. As an example, let’s say you’re interviewing for a programming position at a small start-up technology company for which there is little information available.
You might mention that you’ve been researching the growing trend of “cloud” based applications, as well as social media, and if either of those are an important part of their strategy, you can help them.
The point is to show you know the industry in which they operate and are able to think strategically about what is important to them for future growth.
Even without specific company information, you can still create the impression that you are a candidate that is very knowledgeable about their industry.
In my next post, we’ll move on to the other areas in which you should prepare for your job interview.