How to Prepare for That Job Interview

Congratulations. You’ve landed that interview for an exciting new job. What’s next? In this ATETV video, industry professionals tell you why taking the time to research a company first can pay-off big.

But where do you start? How do you know what to look for? What information should you gather and where do you find it? With the right preparation, you’ll ask better questions and be able to ultimately decide if a position with this company is right for you.

Start by answering the following questions and gathering the related information:

-Company specifics: How old is the company? How large is the company? Where is it located?
-What are its products and/or services? (Even nonprofit organizations serve people through education, lobbying efforts, publications, etc.) What is its essential purpose?
-Who are its customers?
-Who are its major competitors?
-What are its industry reputation/ standing?
-What are the goals of the company? What direction has the organization taken within the past one to two years, and what might be expected in the near future?
-What does this organization value? According to Boston College, “Obviously, for-profit organizations value profit. But most organizations are driven by other values, as well – social conformity; innovation; teamwork; efficiency; the professional development of its employees; public service. You should search for: a) what the organization states about its values, and b) what they really are. The two are not always in agreement.”
-If you will be working in a division of the organization, what is the role of that division, and how does it relate to the parent organization?
-What are the skills and personal qualities that successful professionals in the industry share?
-What problems has the company faced, if any and how did they handle them?
-What are the managerial structure and the place of the person conducting the interview?
-And lastly- according to Kathryn Vercillo on the Hub Pages,  “If you can find out one or two interesting facts about the company, “you’ll look like you have a true interest in the company rather than just seeing it as any old job.”

To find all of this out, start with the company Web site. First, read the job description you are applying for. Chances are it will be posted. Next, peruse the recent press and even take in the site map. You may be surprised at what information is available to you. Take a look at any blogs and work samples that may be posted. And don’t forget to read all of the fine print – including annual reports and news for investors.

Next, connect through LinkedIn and other social media sites. On LinkedIn, you can find other people involved with the business, what they do and perhaps even reach out to them to have a conversation. Check your own connections and their networks as well for greater access. On social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, you can gain insights into marketing strategies, target demographic, and client lists by following their pages. According to the Web site here “You’ll find links to recent media features, conversations between important clients, and gain insight into the company’s public persona. You can also find useful information on the social media profiles of the recruitment team.”

Conduct a search on the company using a search engine like Yahoo! Or Google and watch the news. reports that “The company might have been profiled in a business or trade magazine, such as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Working Mother, or a trade-specific periodical. Nowadays, most periodicals maintain an online catalogue of past issues. You simply type the company’s name into a search engine and see what comes up.”

If you are a student or have access to a college campus, pay a visit to both the alumni office and the career office. You might be able to interview alumni that currently work for the company and gain access to other relevant information.

Lastly, take the time to explore professional databases. These include: Hoovers, OneSource, and LexisNexis, online yellow pages, Forbes or the Fortune 500 list.

According to Kristin Morris at Dell, “Nothing is more impressive than going into an interview and already having information about the company.” Experts agree, if you do the research and present yourself with professionalism and enthusiasm, you will rise above the rest.

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