In my work as a Career Coach I regularly witness my clients experiencing the highs and lows of the interview process. While certain factors will always be out of your control I believe that it’s possible to optimise your chances of success by following a few simple steps in the lead up to the big day.
Thorough preparation is crucial for interview success. In the second part of this series, I take a closer look at how to research your target company thoroughly and how to use that information to prep for a meeting.
1. The Product.
If it’s food- eat it. If it’s entertainment- watch it, if it’s a digital service, you really need to give it a go. Nothing kills an interview like admitting that you’re not familiar with the product/ service/ physical manifestation of the company.
It isn’t uncommon to be asked how you think a service or product could be improved. Even if you think it’s pretty poor and you could make it a million times better, at least arm yourself with some well constructive feedback.
2. The Website.
If the question ‘what do you think of the website?’ comes up you want to have an answer for it.
simple, yes? you’d think so but you wouldn’t believe the number of people who turn up to interview with either no idea or a very incomplete view of the company they want to work for.
At the very least you should take a wander past their digital shop front and clue yourself up on what company has published about itself online. Even with the shortest of notice there’s no excuses, you can check on your phone.
Another great source of information are case studies. Often found on agency websites, they can give you a really good idea of the projects you might be involved and allow you to prepare suitable examples of your own experience.
3. Company Performance.
If you can find them, annual reports are a gift. I used to recruit for a leading UK broadband and TV provider who publish an annual report which is circulated to staff and made available to the public on their website. It’s a treasure trove of information about performance and strategy, woe betide candidates who haven’t at least flicked through it!
If you are interviewing at a smaller organisation and have concerns about company stability it might be worth checking what information is available from Companies House. Just remember, the numbers might not always tell the whole story but they could arm you with some interesting questions for the interview.
4. What Else Is On The Web.
If your interview is imminent, a quick Google news search and a skim of any company run social media accounts will suffice. If you’ve got a bit longer I’d recommend you look a bit closer. For example you could take a look at any recent advertising activity - basically clue yourself up on what is going on externally for the brand or company you’re aiming to work with.
Checking the company’s media presence is really important primarily because It’ll be embarrassing if something huge comes up and you haven’t heard of it! Once again form some opinions and think carefully in advance about how you position your opinions and any questions you would like to ask.
5. What People Say
First of all check in with anyone you know that has worked there to see what they can tell you. If their experience was negative I’d definitely check their feedback with another employee if possible (make sure you keep your sources anonymous!)
Glassdoor is an amazing resource offering everything from employee reviews of what it’s like to work in an organisation to first hand accounts of the interview process. Really useful stuff, although I would advice that you treat extreme reviews with caution and consider that the author might have a motive.
Jess Wright is a Career Coach working in both London and Manchester. If you’d like to know more about how Periscope Works can help you, get in touch.