3 Important Things To Do Before An Interview
This article discusses 3 important things to do before an interview to help you to be better prepared for a job interview and increase your confidence prior to the big day.
One of the most important things to do is conducting pre-interview research. This is a necessary step in preparing yourself and boosting your confidence levels prior to an interview.
Getting invited for an interview is an exciting experience.
When you get a telephone call or an email saying that you have been invited for a face-to-face interview on a specific day, it validates your job search efforts that after sending out many resumes you now have a shot at selling yourself to get the job.
In the excitement of the interview invitation please remember to do three key things to increase the chances of your success.
You can quickly skim all the 3 key tips on the table of contents below and then click on any tip to read further details. Please enjoy reading. Thank you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- 23 Things to Research About a Company Before a Job Interview
- Do a Test Run To The Interview Location
- Read Over Your Resume/CV One More Time
The aim of conducting in-depth background research is to learn as much about the company as possible.
This knowledge will help you in giving smart answers during the interview as well as asking thoughtful and intelligent questions.
Additionally, it is in your best interests to learn as much information as possible about the company beforehand because this is a place where you would potentially be spending your whole day and possibly many years into the future. You would need to reduce the unknowns to a minimum.
Browse the company’s website and the Internet and read as much relevant information as possible.
When you have done your research, it helps to boost your confidence during the interview and the knowledge gained enables you to stand out from the crowd.
You will no longer fear answering a question such as “What do you know about our company” or some other variation of this question.
To conduct an in-depth research about the company, you can breakdown your research to focus on the following 23 components:
i.) Company Vision
The company’s vision outlines the future aspirations of the company; it identifies the big goal that they aim to accomplish.
The vision is usually found on the ‘about us’ page of the company website.
ii.) Mission Statement
The mission statement would typically be located on the ‘about us’ page of the company website.
The statement should clearly define the purpose of the organization and their major goals. It should answer the question why does the organization exist?
Write down the company’s mission statement on your note pad and read it aloud to understand and internalize it.
iii.) Leadership Team
Check the company website to see who the key leaders are such as the CEO, COO, CFO and Senior Vice Presidents.
Visit the social media profiles of the key leaders to learn more about them – their work backgrounds, experience, educational qualifications and interests.
iv.) Company Reviews
No research would be complete without looking at online reviews. Type the name of the company on search engines and write the word ‘reviews’ after the company name.
There are multiple websites that provide reviews based on customer experiences, employee experiences and suppliers and vendors experiences.
Reviews are also available on social media pages of the company.
v.) Products and/or Services Offered
What are the main products and/or services for the company? Who are the major clients or customers?
Where are the products sold? What is the distribution mechanism? What are the prices?
In addition look for the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the website, this section provides first-hand answers for questions that are likely to be on the customer’s minds.
vi.) Company History
When was the company founded or started? Who started it? Why? How many employees does the company have?
How many offices are there? Is the company public or private? What differentiates this company from others?
Which industry and sector does the company operate in?
vii.) Company Locations
Where is the company located? What are the geographical locations?
Are there local offices, regional offices or branches, international offices etc.? Where are the headquarters located?
In cases where companies allow employees to choose preferences for the office location that they would want to work in, this information can come in handy.
viii.) Social Media Profiles
Visit social media profiles of the company such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Read the posts from the company. In addition visit video sharing sites such as YouTube and watch videos from the company.
Photo sharing sites can also offer useful insights into the company such as photos of internal company events; these can also give an idea of the company culture to expect.
ix.) About Us
The “About us” page will be one of the first if not the first web-page that you should visit to learn the background of the company.
This page should tell you at a glance why the company exists and what their aspirations are.
x.) Annual reports and newsletters
Read annual reports and newsletters. These offer a wealth of information into what the company actually does.
These documents would typically list the company’s accomplishments at any period time in narrative, numerical and pictorial format.
Who are the key competitors for the company? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
Examine the competitive landscape and think of what new ideas you could contribute to help improve the competitive position of the company.
You never know you just could be the staff person who has an idea that would completely change the fortunes of the company for the better.
xii.) Industry Trends
What are the government policies, legislation and regulations regarding the industry in which the company is operating?
Conduct research to see if there are any headwinds that could likely affect the company in the future.
xiii.) Media Articles
Type the company’s name on search engines and see if there are any news articles about the company.
Look for critical items such as news of layoffs, acquisitions and mergers.
Also look for positive stories such as the company winning an award, new product launches, expansion to new territories, hiring of key executives etc.
xiv.) Company Videos
Company videos can reveal a wealth of information; typical videos include videos of staff working, CEO talking, product and service promotions etc.
Videos could be posted on the company’s website on social media.
Take time to watch as many videos as you can; you can also search to see if there is a company video of your future boss.
xv.) Financial Reports
What is the financial health of the company? Is revenue growing or declining? Is the company making profits or losses?
What are the projections for future growth? What are the ambitions of the company?
If audit reports are posted on the company’s website, you can look through them to get an idea of the financial situation.
xvi.) Company Culture
What are the shared values and beliefs of the company’s employees? Is this a fun and interesting place to work?
Some companies list their values on their website so this would be a starting point for your background research.
For other companies the information is not so visible so you have to dig in a bit more such as looking at company videos, company profiles, company reviews to learn more about the culture.
xvii.) Board of Directors
Who are the board of directors for the company?
Conduct research to find out the names of the board members and the governing structure of the company.
xviii.) Company Blog
The company blog is one of the most important sections of the company’s website. The blog will give a firsthand scoop on what the company cares about.
It will show the issues that the company brings to the forefront for its customers and the general public. Read as many blog posts as possible about the company.
xix.) Charitable Giving
What causes does the company care about? Which charities does the company support, contribute and donate to? This information will give you further insights into the company.
xx.) Company Branding
Familiarize yourself with branding elements for the company such as their logo, color schemes, tagline, advertisements, website, social media pages etc.
This will give you an idea of what the company cares about and how the company wants to be viewed or perceived by others.
xxi.) The Interviewers
Some companies are courteous enough to send interviewees the names and titles of the people who will be interviewing them.
Typical interviewers include a human resource representative, the hiring manager or your future boss/immediate supervisor, staff from the department where the job is open and a few staff from other departments.
Look at the company website to see if the staff profiles are listed and zoom into the profiles of the staff who will be interviewing you. Learn as much about them as possible. You can even take a few notes.
Supplement your research by reviewing social media profiles of the interviewers such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
xxii.) Your Predecessor
Who did this job previously? What key skills did they possess? Do research to learn about your predecessor.
How many people have held this job before and for how long? Is this job a revolving door with high turnover? Look for any red flags.
xxiii.) The Boss or Immediate Supervisor
Conduct research to find out who will be the immediate supervisor for this role.
You can start your research by looking at staff profiles on the company website and also by looking at professional social media websites such as LinkedIn.
You can also check out the Twitter page of the boss to find out what items he or she cares about.
Do a test run to time yourself on how long it takes to get to the interview location as well as visually identify exactly where the offices are.
Identify where the nearest parking areas are and what are the parking terms for example some parking spots only allow a maximum of two hours parking at a time.
If your interview is likely to be longer than that it would be necessary to look for convenient parking alternatives.
Do not hesitate to call the company ahead of time to inquire about parking arrangements and suggestions.
If using a GPS, save the address of the company ahead of time. Also visualize on online maps the route from your home to the company and see if there are alternative routes in case of an emergency.
iii.) Public Transport – Buses and Subway
If using public transport such as buses to go to the interview location, ensure that you have checked out the bus schedules in advance and are familiar with any connections if necessary.
Identify at which point you will alight from the bus.
If using the subway, figure out ahead of time which trains to use, the connections and which station to exit from.
Once you have exited from the train station it is critical to know in advance in which direction you will walk to get to the interview location.
Before any interview, it is good practice to read over your resume one more time.
Take a few minutes to study all the contents of your own resume and mentally figure out how to tie in the company research that you have done, with the job requirements and your skills and experience.
i.) Typical Interview Questions and Storytelling
Think about typical interview questions that you can be asked such as “What is your greatest weakness and strength?” “Why should we hire you?” “What did you most enjoy about your previous jobs?” and figure out your responses plus some strong examples that you can provide. You can also read career blogs to get guidance on answering interview questions.
Think about a relevant story that you can give about a time when you succeeded greatly or when you made a big mistake. Think about a short story or example that shows a great contribution that you made at work.
Of course you should prepare ahead for how you will confidently respond to the “tell me about yourself” question. Think ahead of how to keep it short and relevant.
ii.) Resume Gaps
If there are gaps in your resume, be prepared to explain them truthfully.
iii.) Re-read the Job Advertisement
Take one more look at the job advertisement and ensure that you fully understand and feel comfortable with the requirements.
Think ahead of how you can respond to questions such as “What attracted you to this job?” “Why do you think you are suitable for this job?” and “What attracted you to this company?”
Your answers should demonstrate that you fully understand the requirements of the role and you also have knowledge about the company (based on your research).
iv.) Relevant Things Not Included on Your Resume
Think about other things that you can weave into the interview to shine more light on your value addition which might not necessarily be on your resume such as relevant hobbies, special projects of value, languages, volunteer activities, internships, special awards and recognition, and certifications.
v.) Look for Your Name in Search Engines
It is possible that recruiters searched for your name on search engines, likewise do the same to see what results come up and become familiar with your online search results – know your online reputation.
BONUS TIPS: Other simple things to do before a face-to-face interview include the following:
- Prepare a list of the questions that you would like to ask.
- Rehearse your interview; role-play the interview with someone acting as the interviewer asking questions and you as the interviewee.
- Print a few copies of your resume.
- Print a list of your references.
- Prepare a neat notebook and a pen to carry, and plan to take important notes during the interview.
- Prepare smart clothes to wear.
- Polish your shoes.
- If driving, ensure you have already fueled your car beforehand.
- Carry the telephone contact for the company in case of any emergency.
- Carry a portfolio that shows your past accolades, recommendations, samples of your work and your proudest achievements. You can show some of these as examples during the interview.
- Check the weather forecast, for example, in case it will rain be ready to adjust your departure time appropriately by leaving extra early to account for traffic jams that typically occur when it is raining. In addition, if adverse weather conditions like snow are predicted, take appropriate precautions drive slowly and carefully, allow extra time to remove snow from your car etc.
- On the night before the interview sleep early and set your alarm clock.
- Eat breakfast on the day of the interview and carry some water with you.
- Aim to arrive a few minutes early.
Additional Resources on Things To Do Before An Interview
- 14 Things to do Before Your Job Interview
- 5 Things You MUST Do Before a Job Interview
- 7 Things to Research Before Any Job Interview
- The Job-Seeker’s Guide to Company Research
- 50 Google Searches to Avoid a Layoff or Bad Employer
- Five things you need to research for a job interview
- The Ultimate Guide to Researching a Company Pre-Interview
- What to know about a company before you interview
- Knowing Your Resume
- Employers are Googling you. Now what?
- Eight Essential Things to Bring to the Interview
- Tips for Interviewing with your Favorite Company (Interview advice for specific companies)