Making appropriate use of company knowledge

Q: I’m going for interview next week with a company – and I know very little about them. The role is in marketing. I intend to study up on them, but I’m not sure how I should try to weave my newly-acquired knowledge into the interview itself. Any ideas? (LK, email).

A: That’s a good question – it’s not just about turning up and singing like a canary. There must be context to the knowledge you display, and it must integrate seamlessly into the interview, rather than appearing as it has been dropped from a great height.

First off, yes, do your research. Know a bit about the history of the company: date founded, the gap it initially filled, and how it has evolved. Being able to talk knowledgably about the evolution of a company is very powerful – frequently, candidates show little or no appreciation of the often torturous route a business has taken to get to the present day.

Know the company’s plans. Is it expanding? Where? Why? Tap into your personal network and talk to someone who currently works there, or who worked there previously. Important note here: put them at ease by assuring them you’re not looking for ‘a word in the right ear’, or that you’re not expecting commercially sensitive information.

Write down the key points you pick up during your research. Then, set about bringing the information smoothly into your answers. Don’t wait for the ‘what do you know about us’ question. Instead, flavour your answers with insights about the company as you go along.

“I see you are getting bigger into Google Plus as a marketing tool – I can bring value here as not alone do I feel Google Plus is one of the most important marketing tools now, but I also have practical experience of using it in my last role.”

In this way, you link your experience to something they are actually doing, or planning to do. It won’t feel like a clunky intervention. “You make good use of YouTube – video marketing is another area that’s expanding hugely. I have been involved in the creation of a number of YouTube videos for business, as my portfolio shows.”

Yes, ‘my portfolio’. Nothing beats the visual evidence. Bring print-outs of campaigns you were involved in, or even your iPad with some evidence. They will be impressed by your desire to prove your worth.

This week’s top tip

Many people can’t see their own strengths – so a good idea is to get friends to describe you.

You would be surprised what others see in you. We tend not to seek out third-party observations, even though great value can lurk in them.

Ask your friends to write ten positive statements about you in terms of your skills, attributes, attitude, and so on. Beside each of these statements, ask them to list examples or incidences back up the claims.

Not only will this have the impact of alerting you to items you should include in your CV, but it should also boost your self-confidence, which will have dramatic benefits in future interviews.

Sli Nua Careers are specialists in CV preparation, interview training, mock interviews, career direction and a variety of other career services. We have offices nationwide. Check office nearest you HERE.

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