Can you remember a time when someone knew something about you that surprised you? Maybe it was a sister who referred to one of your blogs when you didn’t even know that she read them or your mechanic who said, “after I changed the oil, I took a quick look at your brakes because I know you love to use them, and I think we should replace the pads today.” They took the time to get to know you better and, in doing so, impressed you.
That’s the way a great interview works– it’s all about the company and less about you.
The Inside Job
Spending the time to get a good sense of the company will make it a lot easier to answer their questions in an interview. For instance, if you are interviewing at Starbucks and you have read the book How Starbucks Saved My Life and one of the recent articles about their annual meeting, you will know that hard work and social good are key parts of the company ethos. You will want to work this knowledge into your answers.
For smaller, lesser-known companies, networking is a great place to start your research. See if there is someone in your LinkedIn or Facebook networks who works for the company or one of its competitors.
The website GlassDoor provides real testimony from employees on corporate culture and, even better, the interview process for thousands of publically and privately held companies.
To round out the picture of company metrics, key executives and funding, other great websites include:
On the day of the interview, you will want to see if there is any breaking news. Knowing this can give you a conversation opener that could really impress a hiring manager. It could also give you some insight if the interviewer seems distracted– it may not be personal!
To get the most up to date news on any subject, including companies, set up a daily Google Alert for that company and be sure and check your computer or phone before walking into that meeting.
At some point, the interviewer invariably asks, “What questions do you have for me?” This is a great opportunity to make an impression. You can showcase your knowledge of the company by asking about a recent product launch, pricing change, new strategy, etc. To prepare, here are a few ideas to get you started.
This is also a chance to show you are a team player. Ask about the hiring manager’s work style, what he/she needs to make their department perform better, what are the common attributes of their top performers? One of the best questions can be “What can I do to help get you promoted,” as it signals that your goals are aligned with your boss’.
Remember—if you reached the interview stage, the company is interested. Your job at this stage is to confirm that their initial reaction was correct and, like a good headline, leave them with a strong impression. Putting the employer ahead of you in the job interview can bring you back for the next round.
To learn how an informational interview can land a job, read here and meet Allison.