Employers don’t have to hesitate when asked what they see as the number one problem with job candidates: a complete lack of preparation. True, a good many people are well-prepared to speak about themselves and their accomplishments, but they should have some know about the job, the origination, and the interviewer as well.
Unfortunately, gaining that knowledge requires research, and many people resist doing it. As a result, many end up treating job information research as they did their high school term papers: They slap it together and hope for the best or avoid doing it completely. This lack of preparation often shows in the interview.
Find Good Information About the Industry
The industry information you gather will be invaluable to you at the latter stages of the interview process. Knowing that there are only 9,000 available certified property managers and 250,000 real estate firms needing agents, for example, allows you to present yourself as among the top 3 percent in the field – an excellent bargaining chip during the interview and at the salary negotiation table.
Let’s say that you have an interview tomorrow in a hospital. Even if you hope to work in a nonmedical area such as accounting, you will do better in the interview if you know something about the health care industry. The following two resources can help you find information about any industry in which you might be interested in working.
Get More Information on the Careers That Interest You Most
You probably know what sort of job you will seek. That certitude may come as the result of past training, education, work experience, or other reasons. If this is your situation, you may be thinking that you already know about the jobs you want and don’t need to learn more about them. But learning more about the jobs you’re interested in is a good idea, for several reasons. By research various options, you can do the following:
- Increase opportunities in your job search by identifying a wider range of job targets. There are thousands of specialized job titles, and if you don’t do some research, you are almost certain to overlook a number of them that would fit your needs very well. Looking up a few job titles is a start, but reviewing all jobs within clusters of similar jobs is likely to help you identify jobs you don’t know much about – but which would be good ones for you to consider.
- Improve your interview skills. Sure, you may think you know what’s involved in a particular job, but you still need to prepare for an interview. Most people with substantial education, training, and work experience in a particular job do not do a good job of presenting their skills for that job in the interview. People who do their homework by carefully reading a job description and then mentioning key skills that job requires in an interview often get job offers over those with better credentials. Why? They do a more convincing job in the interview by making it easier for employers to understand why they should hire this job seeker over another.
- Write a better resume. Knowing the specific skills a job requires allows you to focus on those skills in your resume.
Know About the Specific Company, Job, and Interview
You should evaluate employers just as carefully as they evaluate you. Doing research on an employer is especially important if you plan on interviewing with an organization that particularly interests you.
The best employer information comes from people who work (or used to work) there. These people can often provide you with inside information that can be invaluable in an interview. But let’s say that you don’t know anyone who works there – what can you do? Go to the source. Often, a receptionist can get you product catalogs, brochures, reports, or other literature that explains the purpose, products, or services of the organization. You can also find much of this information online at the company’s website. If you study this information well, you will have more knowledge of the organization than most other applicants.
You can also go the library and ask the librarian to help you locate any local or national information about the organization. You can often look up recent newspaper articles and, particularly for larger organizations, information in various industrial and other directories.
The more you know about the job, the industry, and the employer, the more likely you are to present yourself well in the interview. More importantly, you will be better able to evaluate whether a particular job is right for you.
Researching the Company
When doing research on a company, you want to focus on company missions, ethics, areas of recent growth, and weak spots. According to librarian, the best sources for information on local organizations are local newspaper articles, local directories, and area trade journal.
If the organization is a small, privately owned company, this type of information may not be available at all. In that case, explore comparable companies and apply what you find. Don’t forget: it’s never a mistake to pick up the phone and talks with the organization’s suppliers, customers ,and current employees.