Monday, March 31, 2014

5 reasons why you need to research before your interview

As a hiring manager, nothing frustrated me more than when I sat down to interview someone for a job and he or she had no knowledge about my company.

It just felt like a waste of time for me and the interviewee. No matter how impressive their resume looked, if applicants knew nothing about the company it showed me that they didn’t take the time to go above and beyond to try and set themselves apart from other applicants.


Two people shaking hands at an interview. Many times, companies will ask, “What do you know about our company?” as a way to eliminate unprepared candidates from those who are more serious and showed initiative.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate has declined, but for most job-seekers, the competition for finding a job is still an uphill battle.  Job candidates can’t afford to leave any rock unturned. With unlimited resources to get our information, there is no reason why a candidate shouldn’t at least know about the company’s products, problems, growth, goals or competitors. 

Here are five reasons why it’s important to always research a company before an interview:

1.      It demonstrates your enthusiasm for the career field, and more important, the organization.

Showing that you took the initiative to learn about a company’s customers, products and services, and competitors demonstrates that you are enthusiastic and serious about the job; and that not just any job will do.  This speaks volumes to the employer and they will most likely place you reward you for the effort by allowing your candidacy to move to the next round.

2.     It allows you to be able to articulate how your skills, knowledge, and values match those of the organization and industry.

For example, say the company has a reputation for serving its customers well and the quality of its products or services are considered top notch.  By knowing this, you can demonstrate during your interview how the company’s qualities are important to you and how they align with your beliefs. This helps ensure that you get noticed.

3.     It helps determine if this is an organization at which you would want to devote the next few years of your work life.

Would you want to work for a company that may be relocating to another state or country? Would you be interested in the company if it has a history of laying off employees after six months? Is the company profitable? Is it adding jobs?

By researching, and talking with others who already work there, you could save yourself a lot of valuable time determining if it is a place you want to work.  Without knowing what its future goals are, you will not know if this is where you want to be.

4.      It can help you answer the question, “Why do you want to work for us?”

The one question you will most likely always be asked in an interview is, “Why do you want to work for us?”  The correct answer is never “because I need a job”. To be successful in answering this question, you must understand the dynamics of the company and what it is the employer is looking for in an employee. Learn what obstacles the company faces and explain how you can help accomplish those obstacles in a positive way.  Everyone needs a job, but conveying that you are a person more interested in being a contributing factor to the company’s success is key to impressing the hiring manager. 

5.     It provides you with the foundation for thoughtful questions when asked.

From experience, I know employers hate it when interviewees don’t have questions when asked. It’s best to always have five to eight questions prepared before you arrive.  Some of those questions might initially get answered before you have a chance to ask, but having more than a few questions prepared will eliminate some of the stress of having to think on the spot. Creating thoughtful questions will be easier for you if you are knowledgeable about what it is they do or who they are. 

In the end, it can never hurt to know a little about the interviewer, as well. Interviewers are always impressed when you have conducted your research thoroughly and ask informed, intelligent questions.  It not only shows that you are serious about your career, but demonstrates that you are less likely to just take any job just because you need it.

Good luck, and let us know how these ideas have worked for you.