Interview research – top five company items
By Siobhan O’Malley, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers
Q.I have a job interview coming up next week. The company in question is a large organisation. I’m doing some research on the company. In your opinion, what are the top five things to learn about the company? I want to make sure that I’m covering the most important points as there is a lot of information out there about the company.
Any suggestions on how I go about this? (JR, email).
A: JR, the level of research you do prior to your interview is likely to have a huge impact on your success. Employers expect candidates to have researched the business and role as much as possible. I would strongly suggest you begin to study the following areas.
- Company culture
This can be difficult to define but the more research you conduct; the more likely you are to begin to understand the prevailing culture. Employers need to know that you will fit into their culture, and your best way to display this is to firstly understand it yourself. This dimension is often under estimated by candidates who can rush headlong into a role without knowing what exactly they are getting into.
- Company value or mission statement
This information is usually found on the company website. It will be a short statement which will explain the values unique to that particular business. It ties in with the culture and is always a good topic of research to mention at interview – in fact, you could use it as the basis for the “have you any question for us” opening that comes at the end of many interviews. You could ask them to elaborate on how the mission statement impacts on the company’s operations day to day.
This is an invaluable reference source. Look at the company profile. Also study the profiles of people currently doing the same role or who have previously done it. Also try to look at the profiles of the people scheduled to be interviewing you. This will help you build a picture of the type of people on the interview panel.
You can pick up invaluable information here as, in the modern age, companies are much more open than was once the case.
- Google what they’re up to
Look for media reports or newspaper articles relating to the business. This helps to build a more informed picture of the business and its market. Patterns will emerge. Knowing about what the company is publicising will give you confidence in the interview – and, again, it is likely to give you information you can drop in at various points of the interview.
- The role itself
Sounds a bit obvious, I know, but the more you learn about the actual role, the better your chances of matching your skills and talents to the company’s needs. Ask questions within your personal and professional network. Ask a question on boards.ie perhaps. Use LinkedIn profiles of similar roles to build up your picture.
If the role has a title e.g. marketing manager, try to Google the attributes of a successful marketing manager and so on.
Research prior to an interview is time well spent and will greatly help you to sell yourself on the day.
Siobhan O’Malley is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers, who have offices in Galway, Dublin, Limerick, Athlone, Sligo and Mayo, plus a full online service. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, personal statements and application forms.