Don’t know who you are, or what you do. Can I please work for you?

There are very many do’s and don’ts and interview tips floating round the internet – you really don’t me to list them all off to you with my own logo attached to it – but watching last night’s The Apprentice brought home one of the most essential requisites in interview preparation; displayed in the most excruciating fashion in Joanna Riley’s grilling:

This was unbearable to watch for a recruiter. The one basic fundamental of an application process; let alone interview stage; is to absolutely know the company you are applying to. How do you know you want to work for a company, if really – you don’t actually know whether you LIKE the product the company represents, or what the company stands for.

Jo in her process yesterday explained she wanted to leave her own cleaning company, because she doesn’t enjoy the `product` – but how does she know that Alan Sugar’s businesses have a product she’s interested in, if she hasn’t done the research? Clearly she just was on a fame-trip; dazzled by Alan Sugar’s TV opportunity. Difficult to understand how she got on the show in the first place.

The thing is, it is so easy to prepare company knowledge prior to an interview in the modern era. The internet gives us everything. When I applied for my first recruitment job in 1994, there was no internet, and Windsor Consultancy Services wasn’t going to be in any library! You had to go cold. Now, we have the internet and it provides us with a wealth of information that has been available for some years now.

So if you heading to an interview, these are just a few easy online places to get to know your interviewer, and his/her company:

Company Website – everything about the company and it’s objectives are there

LinkedIn – find the company page, find the person who’s interviewing you, find out who else works there, and see if any of them are connected to you through fellow connections?

Facebook – see if they have a Facebook presence, it says a lot about a company.

Twitter – find them on Twitter. A good recruiter should give you their twitter handles so you can connect with them, and understand a little about them as people, and as a company. If you are going direct, use Twitter search – or there should be a link from their website.

and… Google – just Google them!! – here for the company you will find news, opinions, press releases, company presentations on the likes of SlideShare, maybe even company pictures on Flickr or otherwise. It’s all good brain info. Then of course, Google your interviewer. They’ll have maybe quotes from magazines or in the press – these are useful. You need to read about what your interviewer thinks about life, and about the product he represents, and the market in which it is positioned. This helps you align your thinking, but also to raise questions and enhance discussion in interview.

Do not under-estimate the power of the internet when preparing for an interview. I had a guy on interview yesterday who in a short hour the night before found out all but the inside leg measurements of his interviewer, and made the relevant recognition of the company’s presence in the country’s that mattered to great detail. He put Jo Riley to shame.

One of the first questions everyone asks at interview is “what do you know about our company?”. It pays to be prepared for this question; otherwise you have a big hole to dig out of for the rest of the interview – and more than likely… with regret… you’ll be fired.

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