Advice for Interviews: How To Do Brilliant Research

The second blog in my series on Interview Advice looks at how we should prepare for a job interview with the necessary research. 

It’s always good news you have the interview – probably the toughest part of the process is making your CV stand out sufficiently to be shortlisted as one of the lucky interviewees. But too many times I see potentially brilliant people muck up the next process, because they didn’t spend time doing the research. InterviewAdvice

So here’s some pointers on research, which will help you be much better in the interview:

RESEARCH THE COMPANY – You have to know this one, right? Everyone does this… surely? Sadly no. And it shows in interview. One of the first questions you will be asked in interview, is “So what do you know about our company?” – You need to know WHO they are, WHAT they do, and what makes them stand out in their field. So, read the website, get a good feel for the company and their direction.

WHY DO YOU WANT TO WORK FOR THEM? – You have to know WHY you want to work for them, and demonstrate an interest and enthusiasm in their products.

KNOW WHAT’S CURRENT  – Read their news on the website, Google the company for recent mentions, which may talk about awards, business deals, new board members, and product launches. Knowing this kind of stuff will give you more conversational confidence in the interview.

FOLLOW THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE – most companies will now have a LinkedIn page, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and very pertinently a YouTube profile. Make sure you follow them, and research the content of them. You will learn a lot about the personality of the business.

KNOW WHO IS INTERVIEWING YOU – You should do a little ‘stalking’ (in a good way!) on the people who are going to interview you. LinkedIn profiles, Twitter accounts, Google them and look at their career history to understand their own journey and perspective.

KNOW THE DRESS CODE – the dress-code thing is not so plain and easy any more. It used to be suit and tie for men and business dress for ladies – but now less companies dress in suit and ties – but then you don’t want to turn up in the t-shirt and jeans you painted your spare room in yesterday either (even if some people in creative agencies look like they go to work that way!!) Always check in advance with the recruiter or interview arranger, to make sure you get the tone right.

KNOW THE JOB ROLE – Make sure you read that job spec! Also, don’t be afraid to ask the recruiter; agency or in-house; some questions on what are the key components of the role, before the interview. You need to know this, to know how best to emphasis your experience to the content of the role.

PREPARE EXAMPLES – Be prepared with examples of when you have undertaken key components of the role. Read yesterday’s article for advice here.

KNOW WHAT MAKES YOU DIFFERENT – do you have USPs? (unique selling points) Are there particular areas of skills you possess, which would make you particularly extraordinary for the role? Make them relevant and directly in tangent to the role, so for example – when we at CloudNine hired @LittleJessWood for a role with us, it became a distinct benefit to her application that she extended creative skills, website development and video editing etc. It meant she could do the role, sure – but also she could add value to us, because of her wider and relevant skill set.

WHAT QUESTIONS DO YOU HAVE? – eeek!! It’s that question, where we clam up – because we realise we didn’t prepare sufficient questions and we have to respond with the inevitable ‘well you seem to have covered everything’!! Spend some quality time preparing questions about the role, the company, the people, the aspirations of the company, the profile of successful people within the business, how the company is handling current business challenges, questions arising from content on the website, clarification of certain matters relating to the company from the website… *and breathe* – the Interviewer WANTS to know that you are keen and inquisitive, and not appearing disinterested and lazy, and selfish. Don’t ask questions about lunch-breaks, holiday entitlement, salary, coffee allowance, sick pay leave, etc – these are in some cases negative questions, and the more pertinent questions around the package can either be handled later in the interview process, or should be been ascertained before the interview.  The quality of questioning tells the interview a lot about you.

So there are a few things to work on in the whole area of research and planning. Good research & knowledge leading into the interview makes for a more confident individual with the interview. You need to feel like; when you walk into the building; you kind of have a feel for the place and what they do – and where you fit in – already. It’s so much practical planning, but it has a dramatic effect on your mindset.

Feel free to suggest other areas you have found useful for interview planning.


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