The goal of the résumé is to get you a job interview. Once you secure an interview, researching and preparing for the interview is important. Like studying for a test, some of the information you can prepare ahead of time — and some of it is important to review just to be better prepared in general. Believe it or not, many job candidates don’t prepare for job interviews. Spending just 30-60 minutes (at a minimum) can improve your chances of securing a job offer.

Research on the company can be vital information that you can use to your advantage in the interview. It will also shape your ability to answer the interviewer’s questions, and can give you a strategic advantage when it comes to salary negotiation.

Think about a job interview from the employer’s perspective. They are looking for the best fit — skills, experience, education — and, most importantly, fit with the company’s culture. Focusing on the needs and preferences of the company can help you identify which aspects of your work history and background will best serve your future employer.

Like Zig Ziglar said, “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

By understanding a company’s needs, you can identify how you can help them in the job you’re seeking — and demonstrate why you’re the best candidate for the position.

If it’s a sales job, you’ll want to show them how you can:
• Increase sales, revenue, and profits
• Secure new business while retaining existing customers

If you’re applying for an information technology position, you’ll want to demonstrate your:
• Ability to solve problems
• Skill in helping the company save money on their technology needs

In her book “Résumé Magic,” author Susan Britton Whitcomb suggests jobseekers target what she calls “employer buying motivators.” These include the company’s desire to:
• Make money
• Save money
• Save time
• Make work easier
• Solve a specific problem
• Be more competitive
• Build relationships / an image
• Expand business
• Attract new customers
• Retain existing customers

Keep these in mind as you prepare for the interview.

It also helps to understand that the information an interviewer wants from you falls into a couple of broad categories:
• Who You Are
• What Sets You Apart From the Other Candidates
• Can You Solve a Problem We Have? (Remember, all jobs solve a problem)
• Why You Might Not Be The Best Fit For the Job
• Why You’re Looking For a New Job (Unemployed? Underemployed? Seeking a better opportunity — but why?)

Understanding that most interview questions will fall into these broad categories will also help you prepare for the interview.

Before your interview, ask for a list of the people you will be meeting with for the interview. Don’t be shy about this — it’s a completely normal request. Be sure to ask for spelling of the name(s). This will help you conduct your pre-interview research.

Not only will you want to research your interviewer(s) — by Googling them and/or conducting a people search on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and/or BranchOut — but you’ll also want to find out who you know in common so you can get advance insight into the interviewer and the hiring process.

Your research before the interview can also help you ask better questions in the interview. Remember — a job interview is about “fit” — but the “fit” from your perspective is as important as “fit” from the company’s point of view. The job interview is like a first date — you want to see what you have in common and whether it’s worthwhile to continue to pursue a relationship or whether you should “see other people.”

If you are given a choice of times you would like to interview, consider your personal preferences — such as, are you a morning person, or not — and also the overall interview schedule. Generally it’s best not to be the first person interviewed for a job. As with house hunting, the natural inclination is not to believe that the first candidate is the best one — interviewers generally have a better idea of what they want — and don’t want — after conducting several interviews.

The “Pre-Interview Worksheet and Checklist” is very important. Fill this out for each of your interviews. Don’t skip this step! Knowing this information can give you a competitive advantage over other (unprepared) candidates.

Fill out as much information as you can. The more you know about the company, the interviewer(s), and the job, the more confident you will be.

Pre-Interview Worksheet and Checklist

JOB OPPORTUNITY

Job Title You’re Interviewing ForDate/Time of the Interview

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name
Address
Phone Number

Website
• Review the company website — in particular, the “About” page, “Media” section (if there is one), and information about their products and services.
• Check out the source code on the company website to see if there are particular keywords that give insight to the company’s focus. (Go to the company website. In your web browser, go to the “View” menu and choose “View Source.”) Note: Not all companies include this information in their source code (look at the title code and meta tags).

Facebook Business Page – www.facebook.com/
• Look at the content the company posts, but also look at what other people post on the company’s page. Can you identify any potential problems that need solving?

Company Twitter Handle — @Do They Have a Blog? Blog URL

• Review the blog for greater insight into the company.

Describe the Company (Subdivision of another company? How many employees? How many locations? What industry? Structure — public, private, family-owned, nonprofit, etc.)

Does the Company Have a YouTube channel? 0 No 0 Yes: www.youtube.com/
• Take a look at the official videos posted by the company.
• Also do a search for the company on YouTube and see if there are any videos posted by employees, the media, or affiliates.

Notes/Thoughts Based on Online Profile Research

GOOGLE

• Do a Google search on the company. Review the first three pages of Google results — anything interesting?

Notes

• Look at what other job postings are open at the company — these can help you identify growth opportunities in the company.• Next, do a Google News search on the company (news.google.com).

Any News Stories?Any Major Announcements in the Last 18 Months?

LINKEDIN

• Search “Companies” on LinkedIn
Does the Company Have a Profile on LinkedIn? 0 Yes 0 No
How Many Followers Does the Company Have on Its Company Page?

If the Company Has a Profile, Does It List:
Company Type
Company Size
Industry
Year Founded
Headquarters (Location)
Makeup of Employees (location, job title, education)

• Also look at the “Viewers Also Viewed” list of companies. These are potential competitors for you to research.
• You will also be able to see if any of your existing connections are affiliated with the company. You can also see “2nd degree” or “3rd degree” contacts. You can click through to those profiles for additional information on the employee’s background.
• The “Insights” tab (if one is available for the company) will give you information about the company’s employees
• If the company has provided “Company Updates,” be sure to read those.
• On the company’s LinkedIn page, click the yellow “Follow” button, and information about the company will be included in your “Updates” feed on the home page of your LinkedIn profile

THE INTERVIEWER

• You can often find this information on LinkedIn, Facebook, or through a Google search.

Who Are You Interviewing With?
Name
Job Title

• Google your interviewer’s name.

Notes

Twitter handle — @

Approximate Age (and Date of Birth, If Known)
College/University
Degree Pursued/Achieved
Year Graduated
Military Service 0 No 0 Yes (if yes, which branch: )
Family – Married? Kids?
How Long in Current Job?
Previous Positions with the Company
Previous Company
Previous Job Title
Professional or Trade Organization Memberships
Social Clubs / Associations / Affiliations
Active in Community (Community Service) or Religion (describe)
Honors/Awards
Hobbies / Recreational Interests*
* Do not bring these up unless confirmed by evidence in interviewer’s office (i.e., trophies, awards)

Sports Interests (Teams)

• Do a Google Image search to find a photo of the interviewer (images.google.com/)

Is this individual making the hiring decision? 0 Yes 0 No
If no, what is the name/title of the hiring decision-maker?Name
Job Title

Does the interviewer have a profile on LinkedIn? 0 Yes 0 No

Who do you know in common? Who do I know who knows this interviewer?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

What LinkedIn groups is he/she a member of?If the interviewer is a technical manager, have they written any LinkedIn Recommendations for current or previous employees? What skills/attributes did they value?

COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

Who is the company’s biggest competitor?Website

Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats (SWOT) Analysis

STRENGTHS (compared to the competitor, what is the prospective employer’s greatest strengths in the market)
WEAKNESSESOPPORTUNITIES
THREATS

UNDERSTANDING THE POSITION

Who does this position report to (name and job title)Do any employees report to this position (names and job titles)

What are the top three challenges of the job?
1.2.
3.

Which “employer buying motivators” apply to this position?
Make money
Save money
Save time
Make work easier
Solve a specific problem
Be more competitive
Build relationships / an image
Expand business
Attract new customers
Retain existing customers

Based on salary research, I would expect this position to pay between $ and $

PERSONAL ASSESSMENT

What is my biggest strength/qualification for this position? What sets me apart from other candidates?

What might keep me from getting the job?

What question do you least want to be asked in this interview?

Context / Challenge / Action / Results Statements (CCAR)• Prepare 2-3 CCAR stories (Context – Challenge – Action – Result) based on your research of the company and the position.

Employers generally formulate their interview questions around the skills they are seeking in a candidate. These skills can be:
• Job-Specific: Technical skills that are gained through education, training, and/or hands-on experience.• Transferable: Skills such as problem-solving, organization, or leadership – that are inherent to you, not specific to any one job.
• Interpersonal: Skills such as communication and collaboration.

Identify up to five skills that are required for the position you are seeking. These can be skills identified in the job posting or by reviewing job descriptions online, on O*NET — http://www.onetonline.org/ , or the Occupational Outlook Handbook — http://www.bls.gov/ooh/

• By “nicknaming” each of these skills, it will help you remember it more easily in the interview.

SKILL #1 – Nicknamed
Context (“While working at”)
Challenge (“I was given the responsibility to”)
Action (“So I”)
Result (“As a result of my efforts”)

SKILL #2 – Nicknamed
Context (“While working at”)
Challenge (“I was given the responsibility to”)
Action (“So I”)
Result (“As a result of my efforts”)

SKILL #3 – Nicknamed
Context (“While working at”)
Challenge (“I was given the responsibility to”)
Action (“So I”)
Result (“As a result of my efforts”)

Based on your research, what three questions would you want to ask in the interview:
1.2.
3.

REFERENCES

• Who are your “ideal” references to use for this position? Contact each of them to ask permission to use them as a reference for this position; let them know you’ll be in touch with them after the interview to let them know how it went and prepare them for any specific issues they may be asked to address.

Reference #1
Contacted on (date)
Reference #2
Contacted on (date)
Reference #3
Contacted on (date)

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:Notes

Author's Bio: 

Michelle A. Riklan is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and Career Expert.

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