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3 Essential Research Steps To Ace Your Next Interview

by Johnny Bravo · 1 comment

3 Essential Research Steps To Ace Your Next InterviewThis post first appeared on Career Attraction, advice from experts that gets results.

According to a recent study, Los Angeles county is well positioned for a full economic recovery. For someone like me working in LA county this is a great sign that 2014 is going to be even better than 2013.

And although I am not currently, now is a great time to be looking for a new job. Whether you have a stable one right now or not there has never been a time when job hunting has been so easy. Keep in mind I am differentiating between job hunting and getting a job.

One key difference is that there has never been a time in the history of the world where access to information was almost limitless.

When my parents were young, they didn’t have the Internet, they didn’t have career websites and there was no such thing as LinkedIn or TheLadders.com. Cover letters were typed, not printed. Resumes were mailed (maybe faxed), not emailed or uploaded. Job postings were advertised in the newspaper and on business windows, not on Monster or CareerBuilders.

Times have changed, that’s for sure.

One thing that hasn’t though is the need to have a plan of attack for every interview you’re invited to. Now more than ever, with unlimited information at your fingertips, you have the potential to be “in the know” before you even step foot in an interviewer’s office.

Remember this: because in the current job market, it’s your responsibility to use all the tools available to you to make sure you’re the right fit for each company and position. And the first step is to do extensive research to prepare for your interview.

Companies expect it. Hiring managers expect it. Other interviewees probably aren’t doing it. This is how you stand out.

And it’s not only about researching the company. You must be on point with your research about the position and the interviewer as well. This should be the case for every company you apply with, for every position and for every interview you go on.

So, how exactly do you go about researching for that important meeting?

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask

One of the most effective ways to do research for a job interview is to simply ask. ~ Tweet This!

Call the company up and ask the questions that may be hard to find out otherwise:

  • Who is the hiring manager?
  • What other decision-makers will be involved?
  • What qualities do they usually look for when filling this position?
  • Is there anyone currently in the role who would be good to talk to?
  • Why did the position become available?

Did you notice that these same questions are often touted as great questions to ask during the interview? Why wait that long?

Why not have the answers before walking into the interview?

How much more effective will you be talking to the hiring manager and asking these questions? You’ll already know the answer and have an awesome response or follow-up question ready.

How’s that for standing out from the crowd?

Keep in mind there are a few different ways you can get this information. Since you’re likely to have your interview with the hiring manager, I don’t recommend calling them up for this. Instead, your first step should be to ask the recruiter you’re working with. Depending on the size of the company, there may or may not be a recruiter. If there is, you’re all set. If not, then go to the next option: the HR department.

They are often very helpful and able to provide information on the position in question, including who is involved in the decision. Additionally, from my experience, HR people tend to be a friendly bunch. It’s part of their job, and tends to be part of their personality.

A simple script you can use when contacting them is:

Hello, I’m very interested in the recent Sales Operations position available at your company, and I’m trying to locate the hiring manager. Could you point me in the right direction with that person’s name and title? Do you have any suggestions for when I reach out to them?

Alternatively, you could try someone who is currently in the position. They will be able to give you the lowdown on the company, the position and the person you’ll be interviewing with. It’s very possible they interviewed with them as well.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with reaching out to multiple people in the position. You may not get a response from the first person, so be persistent.

A simple script to use in this case is:

Hi, Jim. We’ve never met, but I came across your information while researching the available Sales Operations position in your team. Given your background and success at getting hired by the company, I was hoping you’d be willing to share some insights on how I can follow the same path. Any guidance you can give would be greatly appreciated.

LinkedIn is a great resource for connecting with people who currently work at your target company. It’s also a great place to find past employees — which brings me to my next point…

Internet Stalking Is OK

Now, I don’t mean finding out where the hiring manager lives and camping out on his front porch. That’s creepy.

What I mean is that you can and should use every available resource you have to find out as much as you can about the company, the position and the person you will be interviewing with before your interview.

There are many tools available to help you with this, including:

  • Google
  • LinkedIn
  • The company’s website
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Glassdoor

All of these sites will have valuable information to help you find out more about the company, the position and, most importantly, the person you’ll be interviewing with.

You want to find out everything you can about your interviewer so you can quickly and easily build some rapport during your interview.

Some questions to consider as you do your research:

  • What school did they go to?
  • What was their major? Was it similar to (or the same as ) yours?
  • Were they part of any teams, organizations or clubs?
  • Do they have a blog or personal/professional website?
  • Are they members of any professional organizations?
  • What social media sites are they most active on?
  • What kinds of info do they share?

Many recruiters and hiring managers have a complete LinkedIn profile, which you should study until you have it all but memorized.

Another great place to find information about a company and its culture is Glassdoor. This site allows current and past employees to post reviews about the company. Many times, there are comments about a specific department or head of department that will give you an idea of what to expect. And, sometimes, you’ll even find a review from someone in the same position as you’re applying for.

Don’t Forget to Research Yourself

Do you know what shows up when someone Googles you? I promise you the person you’re interviewing with does.

This is one area that’s often overlooked when researching for an interview. The thing you have to remember is that the interviewer did as much research about you as you did about them.

Be sure to check your current professional brand online so you can be ready to explain any misguided adventures that take top spot in the search engines.

Some common searches to run on yourself include:

  • Your name
  • Your name + your city
  • Your name + current title

If you haven’t already started building your own online brand, then it’s time to start immediately. Work to get your major professional social media sites (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) up and running, and do whatever you can to make your online brand strong.

With these three simple steps you’ll be able to walk into any interview well prepared and ready to put your best foot forward.

~ Johnny Bravo

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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