If clients contact us and they are struggling to fill their roles, one of their main reasons for rejecting people at first interview is that they didn’t do enough research on the firm and so couldn’t talk knowledgeably during the meeting. Some candidates think they can simply have a quick look at the job spec, then the company online and head off to the interview - job done.
That’s all that’s needed? Right? Wrong.Candidates are losing out on roles that they’re more than qualified for because they are overlooking doing proper research on their potential employer. If candidates don’t know enough about the company during the interview, they can kiss the job goodbye – even if they are qualified to the hilt for it. An interviewer wants to know that you want to work for that firm and if you’re not sufficiently prepared, you won’t progress.
Doing your homework about the firm you’re interviewing at should be a lot more in depth than a quick online browse.Where Should You Be Looking And What Should You Be Looking For?
First stop, obviously the company’s website. You need to know what the organisation does. What is the company’s mission statement? Where are they located? Are they International? Find out specific areas of business, services or products that the firm is involved with.Find out who runs the firm. Who makes up the management team, the Board, who are the partners and what do they specialise in? Who will be interviewing you? Do you know their names? What do you know about the people of the firm? Also try and find out how they go to market and how the role fits in – is it sector or practice driven or a bit of both.
Look at LinkedIn for even more information about both the company and the people that work there. What is being said about them on social networks? Can you find any common ground or interests with those who will be interviewing you? Clearly, you shouldn’t claim to have won the 2010 European Waterskiing Championship when you’ve only waterskied a few times, so don’t exaggerate or invent things - but if you know the person interviewing you is into waterskiing, there you go – some common ground to make small talk and also show that you have a life outside of work!At senior management level, your knowledge should always also extend to financial data, corporate culture, structure, company history, market knowledge and any recent news. And that’s not a bad recommendation either for anyone else not at that level. It’s always good to know too much than too little.
Have a look and see what general coverage or industry news your potential employer has had? Newspapers and trade journals are the best place research but, remember, for some of these such as: thelawyer.com or legalweek.com, you might have to have an online subscription. So if you’ve got any friends who subscribe to industry publications, then don’t be shy asking if you can borrow them. Again, if you’ve friends in the sector, ask them about the firm you’ll be interviewing at. What are their perceptions or the firm? Do they know anyone there?
Don't forget to prepare your own questions as well. Think about what you're likely to be asked and don't forget the old line, 'its a two-way street'. You will be expected to ask some questions about the firm, so make sure they are well thought out.
All of this information could be very useful in an interview as you can never be sure exactly what you’ll be asked.
As recruitment consultants, it’s our view that you can never be over-prepared for an interview. You may not always use all the research you’ve done at first stage but it’s better to have the knowledge than to not have done the research and be left struggling to answer questions from your interviewers.
Colette Norfolk, Leighton Taylor Consulting