| June 7th, 2006

* interview preparations: researching the company

Leana has just got a call from a prospective employer and has been invited to an interview. She is very excited but a bit nervous at the same time. She has never been to any interviews and has no clue on how to prepare for the upcoming interview. Leana has about a week to prepare herself.

We all go through this phase with our very first (or even with others) interviews. Today we will learn about the basics of how to prepare for an interview. Below are the key areas to include in your preparations.

  1. Research the company and the industry.
  2. Prepare a one minute sales pitch on yourself (that you can say while asked to tell about yourself).
  3. Prepare how to answer the following types of questions:

–  general interview questions

–  situational questions

–  behavioral questions

–  puzzle questions.

  1. Have a few questions (not too many) ready to ask the interviewer when approached.
  2. Be prepared to talk about a movie you have recently watched and a book you have recently read.  You may have read several books but pick one to discuss that suits the best with the personality of the interviewer. It is best to stay away from politics and religion. Books on business world or self-improvement or self-development always seem neutral and safe.
  3. Use proper attire and grooming.
  4. Learn your resume by heart.
  5. Take extra copies of your updated resume.
  6. Have your references ready.  You may need to fill out a form where the contact information of references may be needed.
  7. Plan to collect business cards from each of the persons (including the receptionist or the secretary who greeted and assisted you prior to the interview) you meet at the office, so that you can send individual thank you letters to all of them with proper spellings of their names and correct designations on your letters.
  8. Be sure to get proper directions to the office.  If possible, drive down there the day before to figure out the commute and you can plan accordingly.  Plan to be there early but not late.

There is more but these are the basics of preparing for interviews.  Since there is more than one area to prepare, we will go in depth for only one of them today to keep the article reasonable size.  Therefore, here we will discuss how to research the company and what are the things you need to know.

When you are sitting in the interview board, they expect you to have some basic knowledge about their company.  Here are some of the key areas you need to study.

  • Size of the company – whether it has 50 employees or 5,000 employees.
  • History of the company – general history including how old is the company, whether it is public or privately owned, any history of mergers or acquisitions, etc.
  • Nature of the company products or service oriented.
  • Target market – who do they sell their products/services to “ consumers or businesses”.
  • Industry and competition – learn about the industry, know their key competitors names and their products.
  • Environment and culture of the company – cubicles, casual Fridays or conservative professional attire.

Most of the general information and history of the company, their culture and philosophies, even much detail of operations are usually on their website.  For pubic corporations, you will even get the financial reports on-line.  Learn everything you find on the company.  You can also check the following websites to research companies.

http://www.wetfeet.com/

http://www.vault.com/

http://www.hoovers.com/

For local companies, you may check with your Chamber of Commerce. You can also search on-line using yahoo search engine and get updated news and information about the company on the web.

 

4 Responses to “* interview preparations: researching the company”

  1. Naina says:

    One really great question I once had an interviewer ask me was this, “I interview many candidates, and over the next 2-3 days, I will speak to 20 more candidates. It’s difficult to rememeber the person when I am sitting down with your resumes at the end of the process. So what I do is write down once sentence on the top of your resume, which will help me remember our conversation today while I’m looking over your resume over a cup of tea later on. What do you want your one sentence to be?”

    Needless to say, I was floored – it was a phone interview, and I didnt know how to market myself in one sentence. Make myself memorable and attractive as a new hire. So I mumbled a rather cliched sentence. Tip – have a one liner catchy “pitch” that sets you apart from everyone else. Even if you don’t have to use it, the bullet points in your mind will focus your own energies on your strengths and build your confidence when you’re responding to the interviewer.

    Also tip – leave space at the top of your resume 🙂

  2. Sharmin says:

    Naina,

    I guess the interviewer could have asked the same question differently, “Describe yourself in one or two sentences”. The reason is it seems very lame to me that he/she will think about you just by looking at what you said about yourself. Recently I have attended training on interview skills (for the interviewers). One must to-do is to take notes during and right after the interview so that you don’t forget the details.

    Anyway, my point is “Describe yourself type of questions are to gauge how the candidate judges himself/herself. I won’t be confident on someone who doesn’t have confidence on himself/herself. In our Bangladeshi traditional culture we learn not to speak about ourselves (beating one’s owns drum is considered as bad), in western culture it is different, here we need to be able to talk about our strengths/weaknesses passion/interests all such things. I think this is a cultural shift as well.

    -Sharmin

  3. Suzana says:

    The most important thing that I always find appealing for an interviewee is his/her attitutde. That is the first key for anyone’s success. Smile during a conversation, light humor is also good to break the ice and a positive outlook as much as possible is very important. I found from personal experience that being confident and willing to take responsibilty is the key to get youself noticed in the interview board.
    – Suzana

  4. Oneza says:

    I agree with Suzana. Confidence, grace, sharpness and a good attitude are extremely important factors.
    Also US interviews for Bangladeshi women, language could be a barrier. So preparing for a mock interview at home, or selecting the proper wording are also good ideas.
    It is smart to take the interviewers to the areas of your strength during the conversation, then you won’t lack confidence for discussion!

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Adhunika blog is launched with a mission to share knowledge among women from every walk of life. Sometime it would be in the form of sharing experience to find a feasible solution of a problem; sometime it would be in the form of professional consultation, which Adhunika group will arrange for its bloggers. Nevertheless, the intent of this blog always remains the same - to help and empower women through a common web-based platform....read more

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