How to research a company before the job interview

As I’ve posted here before, The Job Interview isn’t about You.  It’s not that the company doesn’t care about your work experience. They do care, as it relates to them.  If it doesn’t pertain to the company itself, then it doesn’t matter to them. A company wants to know how you’ll help them solve a problem, make a profit or break into a new market.  If we forget that the interview is about the company first and foremost, we will miss valuable opportunities to set ourselves apart. Always be sure to align your skills with the company initiatives. Make sure your past experience isn’t solely anecdotal but used to reflect how you can add value to the company.

Before you go to any job interview, make sure you know these things about them.

Effective Company Research

1. Learn the Mission Statement

A mission statement explains the company’s reason for existence. It is what an organization does and a reminder for employees of why they’re at work.

Example of Mission Statement – Ikea

Ikea Logo

“Create a better everyday life for the many”
How to apply it to your interview

Question – Why should we hire you?

 Answer – You will see that my experience aligns closely with the job requirements, but what I think really sets me apart from other candidates is my ability to combine my professional experience with my people skills.  I did some research on current learning trends and found that stakeholders are looking for engaging learning experiences – whether it be in-person, online or a combination of both. Learning must be relevant and applicable and this involves identifying what your customers are looking for.  I am able to connect with stakeholders to hear their wants & needs and put it into action. For these reasons, I am confident that I can help Learning Factory to implement their mission of creating an engaging library of professional learning for a variety of people.

2. Learn the Vision Statement

A vision statement describes where the company would like to go.  It is more forward-looking than the mission statement. This is where you can really shine in the interview.

Examples of Vision Statement – Deutsche Bank

“We aspire to be the leading client-centric global universal bank.”
How to apply it to your interview
 Question – What is your greatest strength?

Answer – My greatest strength is my ability to mobilize people and maximize resources. I recognize the talents, skills, and knowledge of people. It is this awareness that helps me get the right people in the right places doing the right jobs. I really enjoy setting others up for success and I believe this strength also helps me to build effective teams where people are engaged in their work and operating in their strengths/talents.  All of this together allows me to maximize efficiency, optimize processes and sustain growth which ultimately will align with your vision of becoming the most-sought-after global consultancy firm.

3. Help to solve a problem

Is there an issue the company is currently facing?  Go to the Google News section to see if your potential employer is in the news. If not, try to determine if there is a problem that their industry or sector is facing.  You can become the answer to a company’s problem.

 Question – Tell me about a recent work achievement?

Answer – In my previous role as Business Analyst, I identified an IT vulnerability that was impacting customers. After pointing this out to management, I devised a solution that would fix this issue at the lowest cost to the company. One of my strengths is the ability to analyze data and understand its organizational impact. I believe this skill can help solve the industry-wide challenge of high millennial turn-over by identifying factors that create job dissatisfaction.

4. Know their leader(s)

Today, more than ever, leaders have become the face of corporations. Zuckerberg, Gates & Buffet are synonymous with the companies they lead. If you take time to get to know the leader and understand their philosophy, you can better speak the company’s language. This one can be tricky because we don’t want to come across as disingenuous and throw out random quotes made by the CEO. The key is to understand their approach to leadership, customer service or employee engagement and convey this understanding.

 Question – Tell me about a time you had to discipline an employee? What approach did you take?

Answer – I believe that employee development should be the final goal in all disciplinary interactions.  When these instances arise, our intention should be to work toward a mutually beneficial arrangement for both the company and the employee.  If we can come from a positive, rather than a punitive stance, we are more likely to instill real change. I  recently heard your CEO explaining how she handles employee discipline and we hold the same philosophy in this area. Any time I’ve had to discipline employees, we’ve been able to work toward positive change and growth.  This way, any failure can be used as a teaching tool.

Research that pays off

By taking the time to proactively learn about a potential employer, you set yourself apart from a field of candidates.  The cost of hiring an employee can be as high as $5000 (and that amount goes up as you move up in the organization). Multiply this by several candidates also in the running, and you will see how this can be a huge company investment.  Be the needle in the haystack by making the company the star of the interview. The company will see you as forward-thinking, team-oriented and conscientious  –  all qualities any employer would be glad to have in an employee.

About Gail

I’m an island girl living in Sin City with an irresistibly funny man and two quirky kids. I blog to help others achieve their very own Work/Life Bliss.

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