People spend a lot of time preparing for interviews. They try to guess the questions they could be asked and prepare answers for them – hopefully they even practice answering the questions out loud. But preparing for interviews is much easier if you have clear objectives of what you are trying to achieve during that interview. For any job interview, you need to have two clear objectives: Firstly, to demonstrate that you can do the job; and secondly, that you will ‘fit in’ to the company or team you are being interviewed for.
Of course, both of these objectives require that you have properly researched the target job and company – preferably before you finalised the resume you sent with your application. Failing to learn as much as you possibly can before an interview can lead, not only to failing to secure a job offer, but to having a very uncomfortable experience during the actual interview. Incredibly, far too many candidates don’t seem to know sufficiently about a company to be able to adequately answer the questions “why do you want to join our company?” or “what do you know about our company?”
Hiring managers hate uninformed candidates, and many state that they will not employ someone who comes across as uniformed. Not properly researching the company means you will come across at interview as uniformed.
One of the most important things you need to discover in your research of the company are the specific requirements of the job. These will form the selection criteria for the interviewers to evaluate and score during the interview process. These are the set of skills, experience and qualifications that you need to demonstrate you have in order to be selected as a suitable candidate for the job. These are what you have to demonstrate that you have in order to meet the first objective of convincing the interviewers that you can do the job.
Your research should have a general and a specific aim. The general aim is to discover the requirements of that type of job wherever it is situated or in any company. The specific aim is to discover the particular requirements of the job for that one company as the requirements may differ slightly from company to company. This research may lead you to discover dozens of requirements for the job and you must break this down into the six to eight “key requirements” for the job. These six to eight “key requirements are then the focus of your interview preparation and you must be able to demonstrate that you possess these. To do this effectively, you should have an example of a time you used that skill or gained that experience. Having these little stories will add impact to your interview.
Your research should also uncover what the culture of the company is. To understand their culture, you need to know what they value and the type of people who work there. Is it the type of company that values creativity over bureaucracy? Do the people working there look for new ways of solving a problem or are they more likely to follow standard procedures and proven ways of doing things?
There are two benefits of knowing a company’s culture, values and the type of people working there. Firstly, you will be able to discuss how you will ‘fit in’ to such a company – this is always a major concern for hiring managers. Secondly and more importantly, when you discover the company’s culture, values and the type of people already working there, you can decide if that really a place you would like to work in? You don’t want to work in a place where you are so different to the majority of people working there – that would lead to constant stress and conflict for you. If you don’t fit, don’t waste your time and that of the interviewers!
So, proper research will help you demonstrate that you can do the job, and ‘fit in’ to the company and team‘s culture and ways of doing things.