Candidates are often so focused on themselves that they forget to do proper research into the organisation they are applying to. Many candidates think reading the ‘About’ page of the organisation’s website the night before and memorising random facts like the year it was founded or the location of the company is sufficient preparation. It isn’t. Even worse, this question is often the second one asked after “Tell me about yourself,” so your answer will set the tone for the rest of the interview. With so much information readily available online there really is no excuse for not doing your homework.
When you’re asked a question along these lines: “What do you know about us?” or “Why do you want to work here?” or “Why have you applied for the role?” at the interview, this is essentially a test of whether you have a genuine interest in them, or will take any job going and therefore have not bothered to do some proper research. Clue: The panel does not want to hear facts about the company that they already know! Remember – by the time you get to a job interview, you can do the job on paper or you wouldn’t have made it this far in the process. The secret to beating the other candidates is presenting yourself as a good cultural fit.
It can be overwhelming when you search for interview preparation advice online, so Gradbloom has come to the rescue with five foolproof ways to be the most prepared candidate.
1.Go beyond the ‘about’ page
Most companies have plenty of other information on their own website that you should read. Have a look for sections called mission, vision, values, CSR (corporate social responsibility), or similar, and make some notes of the common themes that crop up and you are impressed by. For example, perhaps you feel strongly aligned to the company values you have read about online. Pick a couple and make sure you reference them, explaining why they matter to you when you are asked about your motivation for applying for the role.
2.Check out the social media, particularly LinkedIn, and blogs
Looking at what businesses choose to post on social networks offers an insight into company culture and will give you a feel for what it’s like to work there. For example, if you’re a social butterfly you might be looking to see what kind of events Gradbloom also recommends following the company on LinkedIn especially so that you receive regular updates and have the latest before the interview. Again, this shows a genuine interest in the business, rather than it being just another job you’ve applied for out of desperation. You can also look at the interviewers’ profiles on there and deepen your understanding of their roles and responsibilities as well as seeing if you have anything in common.
Similarly, blogs are often a gold mine of useful information about the employer and you can use the information to show you know the latest company news and updates, whether it’s a new product launch or CSR initiative. Being able to drop an update into the interview conversation is sure to impress.
3.Who are the competitors?
You should familiarise yourself with their competition and any big news in case you are asked anything about challenges or rivals aiming to disrupt the industry. Even if you’re a recent graduate without much work experience, a business will still expect you to have a decent amount of industry knowledge and trends because you should have a genuine interest anyway. Candidates often score poorly on these questions in an interview due to being inexperienced and not bothering to prepare, and it is almost impossible to blag your way through an industry-related discussion if you don’t have a clue what you are talking about!
4.Use Google news
Put the name of the business into google and click news. This will give you links to external news, partnerships, articles, press releases and more, with the difference from points one and two being that you’ll see what comes up in the words of others. If the news you find isn’t all positive, have a think about whether you want to proceed. On the other hand, if you come across an award, new product launch, or anything else interesting, make a note and see if you can drop it into the interview somewhere.
5.What are other people saying?
A business will obviously want to present itself in the best possible light on its own website. However, it’s advisable to try and find out the truth from people who work there already. Glassdoor is a brilliant website for this, set up so that employees could rate their employers and give the inside scoop anonymously. These reviews will deepen your insight into their culture and working style, and, depending on the size of the organisation, you may even unearth interview questions, salary ranges and other juicy information that won’t be on the job description.
So, now you know where to look, how can you use it to make yourself a memorable candidate?
Your newly acquired knowledge should form the basis of any answers linked to questions about your motivation for applying for the role, the company, and what you know about the business.
As a final top tip, you can use all this effort to ensure you end the interview on a high during the ‘Do you have any questions for us’ stage. Blow the panel away by asking questions you’ve prepared in advance based on your research. Average candidates will ask generic questions that could be applied to any company like “What are the training opportunities on offer?” The best candidates will ask specific questions based on news, updates, or similar that they have come across. Who would you hire?
To sum up, interviewers ask questions to determine whether a candidate will be the right cultural fit for the job and company. Doing thorough research will help you outshine your competition by enabling you to give thorough, detailed answers that are tailored to them. Show an employer that you can help solve their challenges and they will be much more eager to make you an offer. Also, remember that an interview is a two-way street. This research will give you a better idea about the kind of working environment, culture, and values you could be signing up to join, and if it isn’t for you, it’s better to find out now.
About Gradbloom: Most graduates do not finish their degrees equipped with the employability skills and knowledge they need to make it in the real world, however, you only get one chance to make a first impression on an employer. Enter Gradbloom! Recently founded to provide resources and services to help students and graduates navigate the murky world of job hunting.
If you’ve found these interview tips useful, please follow Gradbloom on Instagram and LinkedIn or where you’ll find lots of other advice on all things careers. If you’d like a mock interview to make all your mistakes before the real deal, please email firstname.lastname@example.org