So you’ve bagged yourself an interview - nice work! This is your chance to show exactly what you have to offer, the value you’ll bring to the company, and why you are a compelling fit for the role. Some people find interviews a walk in the park, and for others there’s nothing worse than the pressure of selling yourself to a potential new employer.
Most would agree that your best shot at a successful interview comes down to preparation; as they say, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. An unprepared candidate can give the impression they don’t know or care enough about the role or company, and it can mean an hour of pain you don’t fancy repeating. Wouldn’t you be impressed by a candidate who came to the interview with a solid knowledge of your business, the latest market developments, and your competitors? Doing your research shows you are already invested in the company, you’re taking the opportunity seriously, and you have a professional approach - all ticks in boxes for your potential employer.
Here are 5 things you should research before a first interview:
1. Key stakeholders in the business
The key players in a company are employees who hold important positions in the organisation. This would include managers, department and regional directors, and especially the CEO of the company. A good starting point is the About Us or Leadership Team pages on a company’s website.
The job description should also give you an idea of who you’ll be reporting to - and there’s a strong chance you’ll be meeting them at the first interview. So, check out your would-be manager on LinkedIn - how long have they been at the company? Do they have a particular interest or specialism? Tip: if you don’t want them to be aware you’ve visited their profile, you can change your LinkedIn account settings.
2. Company news and events
It never hurts to be aware of recent company news and updates when you’re going to an interview. Many companies have a News or PR section on the website, so check this out first. You can also search the company name in Google and click News to see any mentions of the business in recent stories. From a company merger, expansion into international markets, or even a recent site closure - these will all impact the business, so school up on these updates and you’ll be more aware of any challenges and opportunities the business is facing. It also makes you well placed to impress the employer by asking insightful questions during the interview if you have the chance - has your role been created due to the recent investment into customer experience, for example?
3. Company culture, mission and values
During a job interview, candidates should be able to confidently convey they’re good fit for the company’s culture, and the stats show that cultural fit is becoming more and more important in the hiring process. Researching a company’s culture and values also helps to ensure it really is a good fit for you - do you thrive in a traditional corporate culture, or does a more relaxed and informal atmosphere suit you best? There are multiple ways a company may screen for cultural fit, but questions like ‘which of our values do you identify with most?’ are not uncommon, and it’ll look much better if you actually know what their values are!
4. Clients, products, and services
Before you go for the interview you should research the company’s products and services so you have a good idea of what’s involved in the role. Additionally, if you can find out some of their partners or clients, you’ll be much more prepared. This information should be available on their website. Do they have a blog? They’re likely to post updates such as new product launches there too. Check out their testimonial and case study pages too, to understand how they are valued by clients, and any major projects they’ve delivered. Having a good knowledge of the company’s services and key customers will help you hit the ground running if you get the job, and you’ll seem a lot more credible during the interview if you can confidently talk about what the company actually does.
5. Employee reviews
Get the inside track on what it’s like to work at the company, by checking out websites such as Glassdoor. These help a potential employee find out what the company website might not tell you. Sites like Glassdoor can be used to access information such as salary figures, company reviews, details about the recruitment process, and more.
Interviews. We’ve all been there and we know they’re not fun. But just remember: thousands of people sit interviews every day and come out the other side relatively unscathed.