The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

August 17, 2017

The Proof is in the Prepping: What to Research before an Interview

Executive Recruiter, Sara Bouley, “Researching the company you’re interviewing with is an imperative part of the interview preparation process.  Often times the best questions for interviewers come from recent news articles and postings online.  You have to have a general idea of what the company is and what it stands for before sitting down for an interview.  If you haven’t researched a company prior to an interview, you’re not prepared for the interview.”

Candidates know the importance of research and often will do some superficial work, however, not knowing exactly what to look for can hinder preparation. Below is a guide to what bases to cover as you approach the in-person interview.

1. The job description

Having a strong grasp of the job description and what is required of the ideal candidate is a crucial part of preparation. It will aid you in positioning your skills in a way that will enhance your suitability for the role. Think of the job description as a checklist of characteristics and skills you wish to convey during the interview. By knowing what they seek in the ideal candidate, you can make your case from the outset and throughout the interview as to how you fit the bill. By drawing on specific examples from previous experience that articulate how you might tackle the advertised duties and responsibilities, you will be sure to impress them.

2. Company culture, mission, and values

Familiarizing yourself with the company culture and mission statement can help you align with the business and role more effectively and in turn, determine whether or not you share the same values and vision. Have a look at the company’s social media channels to not only see original content but also the type of content they endorse and thereby, feel is relevant and has worth. By coming to understand their culture, mission, and values, you may also decipher for yourself if you see a future with them.

3. News

Industry news is also an important point of reference to show that you are serious about being a part of a team that is indeed a part of a bigger picture; an industry and all of its trends and movement. The company website will most likely have a blog or news portion. That is a good way to look internally at what happenings affect the business. Beyond the company website, it could be beneficial to look at what other media has to say about the company that may not necessarily be shared to their site. Extend your reach beyond just the company’s site so that you are able to have a broader view of what is in store.

4. Competitors

Just as you should be looking at news internally and externally pertaining the brand, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the company and its competitors too. In an interview, you don’t want to highlight solely why you’re great for the role because that role most likely exists across many companies of the same industry. Rather you want to showcase how you’re a perfect fit for this specific company and that what makes them unique is something you value as well. Having a working knowledge of the company’s competitors also adds to your knowledge of the industry and therefore is equally as essential as researching industry news.

5. Individual Interviewers

Before going into an interview, be clear to learn the names of the people with whom you will be meeting, the correct pronunciation of their names and of course any relevant information for the interview itself. Find bio pages both on the company site and via LinkedIn. A broad Google search may lead you to some insight but be prepared to delve deeper. Use whatever common ground you can in order to establish a personable rapport with the interviewer, be it the same alma mater or experience from a previous company, this attention to detail will bode well in not only making a good first impression but leaving a lasting one too.
Do not underestimate the value of doing research before an interview. One may place greater emphasis on tidying their appearance and preparing to answer interview questions on themselves, rather than doing the necessary research that will give them the basis to ask educated questions. Interviewers have more likely than not done extensive research on you, it’s important to extend the same courtesy. Don’t be afraid to seek out individuals who may have insight into the company. Photos online may even indicate the appropriate attire for the interview. If you do a good amount of quality research, it will translate in your interview and set you apart from the competition.

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