The other day I heard another story of a job interview gone wrong. My friend (the hiring manager) asked a candidate if he had any questions. To which the candidate replied, “Tell me a little about yourself.” Just like that his interview was over. The hiring manager was more than annoyed that the candidate would ask a question that could have easily been answered by spending a little time online.
This was particularly egregious because the candidate was applying to be a research analyst, and the hiring manager is very well-known in the field. Still, not knowing something about the company and hiring manager shows a real lack of initiative.
The takeaway? Do plenty of research before your scheduled job interview.
Today, even the smallest companies have a website. Begin there. Pay careful attention to the company’s About Us section that often includes information on key personnel. Some companies have photos and bios of almost everyone who works there. Read how the company got started and their mission statement. Spend some time reviewing the products or services they sell. This will help give you things to mention and ask about during your interview.
Next, take a look at the company’s online presence. This includes social media like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. But, don’t stop there. Depending on the industry they may be on Instagram and Pinterest too. Read what they’ve posted on social media. It will give you some insight into the company’s culture. Are they run and irreverent? Or are they all business? It can also provide clues, if not actual information, on things like their target customers.
Make sure to review the LinkedIn profiles of company leaders. This includes the people you’ll be interviewing with, your potential boss, and his or her boss as well. You never know who you’ll be asked to meet if the interview is going well. If you’re lucky, you’ll find names on the company website. If not, just do a search on LinkedIn. You may find that you share the same alma mater or outside interests; which may prove valuable when you’re trying to build rapport.
Before closing the interview, most recruiters and hiring managers will ask if you have any questions. “No, I think you’ve covered everything,” is not the answer they want to hear. So be sure to have some thoughtful questions prepared in advance. Questions that show you have done your homework and are looking for additional insights.
Don’t make the mistake of asking questions that could easily have been found by spending an hour online. Even if your lack of initiative doesn’t immediately take you out of the running, it will certainly not leave a good impression. It probably will not put you on the short list. And isn’t that where you want to be?
About the author
Annette Richmond is a Certified Advanced Resume Writer (CARW) and former recruiter. She has written articles for career-intelligence and other sites including TalentCulture, 85Broads, LinkedIn and Forbes Woman. Her career management advice has been featured in many media outlets including Business Insider, Vault.com, Monster.com, and The Wall Street Journal. Annette also regularly contributes to a number of weekly career-related chats on Twitter. Check out her resume writing and career services here.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
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