There is one thing hiring managers want you to do before the interview, which I hope you know by now.

What do they want you to do? Your research.

I keep polling hiring managers on what they want from candidates(I’m hoping to find things to write about), and they always come back with one answer. They want you to research the company before you come into the interview. The vast majority of candidates still don’t do this, so if you just do that one thing, you will stand out. And you still don’t do it.

I got to thinking about why this might be. And I came to the conclusion that maybe you don’t know how. So, here’s how. Here are some of the things you should research – maybe not all are applicable and maybe some are missing – before the job interview and how to do that.

What does the company do? What goods or services do they offer? What do they make? Do they make beer, knit sweaters, or provide financial services? Let’s say they make beer.

How do they do it? How do they make the beer? Is it made locally in a small brewery or mass manufactured? Where? What do they make it out of? Spring water, organic barley and angel tears? Or sludgwater and poison? Do they stand on their heads while making the beer? If they do, that’s something you should know.

Who are their clients? Who drinks the beer? Hipsters? Baby boomers? Students? Who is their target market?

How do they reach that market? Do they advertise on YouTube or in magazines? Do they rely on word of mouth? Social media? Do they have a Facebook or Twitter page? Sandwich boards?

Who is the competition? Who else makes beer and makes that beer available to the same market? How is that beer different or the same? How is that beer’s marketing different or the same? Who are the big players in the market and who are the up and comers?

What is the company culture like? What’s the dress code? Do the people at the beer company wear jeans and skateboard around the brewery, which is in a big warehouse space with a pool table and karaoke machine, where everyone of all levels works together? Or do the managers wear suits and shiny shoes while working in a head office while others work elsewhere? Is it fun? Is it serious?

What are the company’s mission and values? Do they place a premium on sustainability or the environment? Are teamwork and accountability important? Do they value employee development, career pathing, diversity? Find out.

Who are the managers? Who runs the show? Who are you interviewing with? What’s their name and title? What are these people’s professional histories?

What are the industry trends of challenges? What’s in the news? You would want to know about the rise of craft brewing and the hipsterification of beer, for example. Also, if you were in Ontario, you would want to know that Ontario is planning to sell beer in grocery stores.

Where is it? Find out where exactly you’re going so you don’t get lost.

OK. Now, how/where do you find these things out?

Company website: Obviously this is your first stop. Find out as much as you can about the organization from its website.

Company social media accounts: Check out their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and whatever other accounts they might have. Read the voice, read their posts, see what is important to them, how they interact, how large their network is, and see what other information you can get there.

Corporate blogs: Read industry blogs and see what’s going on. Is the company mentioned? Do they have their own blog?

Personal social media accounts: Don’t stalk managers on Facebook – that’s creepy and unwelcome – but do read their LinkedIn profiles carefully.

Your own network: Do you know anyone who works there or has worked there, or anyone who knows anyone? Ask around.

The news: Is the company in the news? Set up a Google alert. Read up on news about the industry. Know what’s going on.

Glassdoor: Glassdoor is a database of “company reviews, CEO approval ratings, salary reports, interview reviews and questions, benefits reviews, office photos and more.” All the information is provided by company employees, so it’s extremely valuable information, and you can prepare yourself accordingly.

There may be other ways to prep. It’s up to you to figure out what they are. Be prepared, and I guarantee you will already be far ahead of the competition.

Now you have no excuse.

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