Never go into an interview unprepared, okay? It’s obvious. You may think you can wing it, but trust me–the other candidates are doing their prep. Larry Bird said, “I still wonder if somebody – somewhere – was practicing more than me.” The same thing is true about interviews.
Good prep can help an average candidate make it to the next round. But what makes for good prep? A few easy things.
Tip #1: Always research the company. Not just their website, but across the web. Look for news reports from the last 6 months or more. Look for major changes or announcements, especially if they pertain to the area you’re applying for. True, some information doesn’t belong in an interview. Don’t go in asking about low-level financial detail in a quarterly report if you’re applying for a help desk position. But if the company has consistently beaten earnings for the last three quarters, you can always ask the recruiter for his opinion on why that is.
Tip #2: If you know who you’re interviewing with, Google them, and search for them on LinkedIn. Find as many personal and professional tidbits as you can. You never know what might come in handy. What if you went to the same school or just read the same book? You won’t know unless you look. Not every puts their life on the Internet, but lots do. If you ever interview with me, you can easily find out where I went to college, the last 10 business books I read, where I’ve worked, and what I think about interview attire all within 15 minutes.
Tip #3: Spend some time researching the industry. If you’re applying for a marketing analyst position in a financial services firm, you’ll want to know about financial planning, retirement investing, and mutual funds even though your specific job may not require that knowledge. Talking intelligently about the industry is always a good sign that the candidate is truly interested in the role.
Tip #4: Research the position. A Marketing Analyst is different at different companies. Find out how other companies define the role so you can ask good questions about the company you’re interviewing with. If you’re interviewing for a Business Analyst position, for example, you should check out the Business Analyst Times website. Most positions have networks devoted to the practice, and even 60 minutes of research will prepare you with a dozen good questions and a better understanding of what you’re getting into.
All-told, this is maybe 2 hours of research. That’s more than most people do, so you know you’ll be better prepared than average. That’s worth at least 2 hours, right?