Information You Must Have Before Your Job Interview

A hiring manager listens and takes notes during a job interview.

So, you've gotten through the hurdle of securing an employer's interest with your resume, but now the real challenge begins—the job interview.

While an interview is no guarantee you'll get a job offer, your chances at it are much improved if you properly prepare for it well ahead of time. Here is some information you should have on hand before your interview to create the best possible impression.

Understand The Organization's Mission

It's essential to learn about a company's mission and culture before going into a job interview.


One of the first questions hiring managers ask is, "What do you know about us?" If the job seeker's response indicates they did not bother to spend the time to research the company, the hiring manager may quickly put their job application in the "Do Not Hire" pile. So, check out the organization's website to get a general sense of the following:

  • What they are about
  • What products/services are offered
  • Who its audience is
  • Where its office locations are
  • Who the key members of management are

Also, look at their latest news and press releases, and see if that applies to you. Perhaps they just opened a new plant and need someone who can quickly step into an HR role and staff it. For specialized industries, you may also find it helpful to scour through industry journals and newsletters.

And don't forget to look them up on LinkedIn and even Facebook to get a sense of their messaging. Reading up on the company and the latest general industry news will give you a clearer picture of issues that matter, and help you to speak "smartly." The messages and points you make during the interview will fit in line with what is relevant to the employer.

Research The Decision-Maker And Interviewer

A young professional does some research on LinkedIn.


You should always get as much information about the decision-maker and interviewer through LinkedIn. It will tell you how long they've been there, where they came from, and—if you look at the groups and discussions they participate in—their areas of interest. It will also tell you if someone else had this job and whether they left or got promoted.

Good research can help you stand out in a job interview. For example, if you served in the military and you discovered that the person interviewing you also served in the military, you could use your own military career to describe your disciplined approach to your career. By doing this, you could build a rapport with the interviewer and differentiate yourself from other candidates.

Prepare Examples To Show Your Value

Prepare supporting points to demonstrate how your experience, skills, and strengths are relevant and will benefit the employer. An interview is a chance for you to learn about the opportunity as well as for the employer to further determine if you are the best candidate for the job.

Start by identifying the top five skills that are the most important to the job and then focus on how you have demonstrated them successfully in your career. Some employers may ask for a rundown of your resume while others may poke at specific experiences on your resume and dig deeper for more information or examples to demonstrate your skills and success.

Go over your resume and make sure you know what you will say about each experience to make yourself shine. Be aware of what you have written on your resume so that your talking points match up and enhance the messages you've projected from the resume. Be ready to provide case examples to help demonstrate specific points and achievements.

Be Prepared With Questions For The Employer

A young professional writes down some questions for her upcoming job interview.


Each interview takes on a different format, but somewhere along the way, an employer will likely ask if you have any questions. Even if the interview was packed with information, always have questions prepared to ask the employer that have not been touched on or that you can benefit from by having more information.Asking questions expresses to an employer that you are serious and sincerely interested in the company and position.

Asking the "right" questions can also help solidify a positive impression. For instance, if you have done the proper research on the company before the interview, you may have knowledge of developments happening at the company or within the industry that may have an impact on the job you apply for. Asking questions that express you are thinking ahead about the job and how certain developments may impact the business demonstrates to an employer that you are a "smart" candidate. You are already thinking like you belong in the position and looking ahead at how to address possible challenges. These types of questions can also help the employer see how you fit right in.

Preparing for an interview is about having the right state of mind, but there are also other common things you must have prepared that may be overlooked. Make sure you have extra copies of your resume and pen and paper to take down important notes that allow you to personalize the thank you note after the interview.

For those applying for a position such as art or writing, make sure to have a portfolio of your work to leave behind or to show to the employer. Lastly, know who you will be meeting with. In addition, account early for how to get to the address and how much time it will take you. Don't sabotage all the time and effort you put into preparing for the interview by arriving late to an appointment. Small issues like these can make an immediate negative impression.

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This post was originally published on an earlier date.

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