By Mary O’Brien, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers (Claremorris)
A lot of us prepare for interviews in a similar manner i.e. we look at our CV and previous experience
and begin the process of trying to match our skills to the requirements of the job in order to answer questions as effectively as possible. This is the correct approach to take, but it is not enough: so many people forget to research the company to which they are applying.
As the sports cliché says “if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”. An interview panel (or individual) will expect you to have done your homework. Many people still think that this exercise is futile and won’t add value to their interview performance.
If you happen to think this way then ask yourself the following question: how will you convince an interview panel that you are the right person for the job if they begin to notice you haven’t researched the company and really don’t know how your skills, talents, and background will fit their culture, methods, and company profile?
The recruitment agent or HR representative who initially calls you for interview should be your first port of call. Ask them about the company culture and type of environment within the organisation. This should form the basis of your search for more detailed information from then on.
A lot of this information is easily accessed. Start with the company website. Read through the various pages and take notes. Look at their products and services, study their “about us” section, some will have a “press” section with previous press releases. A website home page can often have a mission statement or value statement displayed. These few lines will say a huge amount about the way the company operates and would be deemed by all who work in the organisation as being vitally important to the company image or brand.
It’s never been easier to find out information online. Research the company, look for news items or press releases. The company may also have been mentioned in reports done by other organisations, so do a little digging. Don’t stop after the first page of a Google search. Older information could be buried in page three, four, or five. Check the newspaper websites and do a search for the company name which may lead to further items. Try to find out if the company has been involved in charity events or if they sponsor a sports team or local organisations.
LinkedIn is a fantastic tool. You need to have a profile. Ask your HR contact for the names of the people interviewing, and study their LinkedIn profiles. They will be able to see that you have looked at them and this in itself shows a degree of effort on your part. Look at the LinkedIn profiles of other employees in the organisation. This will give you an idea of their backgrounds and how they describe their current role. The company LinkedIn page and profiles of its employees are good places to start in order to begin to understand the type of culture which exists.
You can go into greater detail depending on the type or level of seniority of the role for which you are applying. The Companies Registration Office http://search.cro.ie/company/ will allow you to search for certain information regarding Irish registered companies. You can get an overview of change of Directors, change of address etc, and more detailed financial reports are available for a fee. Financial information can also be obtained from Solo Check http://www.solocheck.ie/.
A recent graduate hoping to begin a career in finance, accountancy, law or banking, could add to their interview impact by being able to draw on some of this information. Companies who manufacture products such as pharmaceuticals, electronics, software, or medical devices will have patent and trade mark information publically available on facilities such as http://goo.gl/SXjuxU and http://goo.gl/mMmCcg
Don’t forget about your own network as well. We live in a small country which means that you don’t have to go too far in order to find someone who will know something about the company you are applying too. Ask your friends on social media if they know anything about the employer. Have a look at http://www.boards.ie/ where you can anonymously ask questions from people who may have experience of that particular employer.
Researching the employer and the role being applied for isn’t as daunting a task as you may think. Information is out there. Hopefully these options will help point you in the right direction.
You need to give yourself every opportunity to prove to an employer that you are the right fit for the role. Having your research done won’t guarantee you an offer of employment but not having it done will most likely rule you out.
Mary O’Brien-Killeen is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers in Claremorris, Co. Mayo.
Make a booking HERE for CV Preparation, Application Form writing, Interview Training and Mock Interviews.
More articles from her blog can be accessed HERE