So you’ve got a job interview. Congrats! Now, however, the real work begins.

Here are seven things you should know before any job interview:

What the company does

Don’t show up knowing nothing about the organization. Do your research. Find out what their products are, what they do, what their mission and values are. The more you know about the company and its products and industry, the more impressive you will seem. It shows that you care enough about the opportunity, and your profession, to put in the research and learn, and all hiring managers like a person like that.

Click here to find out some ways you can research a company.

Who their competitors are and what they’re doing.

The goal of any company is to rise to the top of the market if they are not already there. This means crushing the competition. So, if you can show up with some understanding of what that competition is – and, even better, some ideas for beating them – you’re golden. It’s also good to know for simple, practical purposes, so you don’t show up for an interview at Coca Cola carrying a Pepsi product or an interview and Adidas while wearing Nikes.

How the industry is doing and what challenges the company might face.

Is the industry booming (tech consulting, home health care)? Is it tanking (oil)? Imploding (music)? Is the company facing a PR fiasco (Chipotle)? Knowing this will help you assess what challenges they might be facing and, if you are in a position to do so, come up with some solutions to present. If your role is not directly related to finding solutions, you should still at least be aware of what’s going on.

What the role involves

What is the job? It goes without saying, but you should be well-acquainted with the company’s job description. In fact, you should be using that to tailor your resume to that specific job posting. It also, however, can serve as the foundation of your interview. What are the required skills and qualifications? How does your experience match up? More importantly, can you think of instances or achievements that best demonstrate them? Be prepared  to give examples, and you will, stand out from the crowd.

Doing this kind of research can also help you come up with questions for the interviewer. Is there anything in the job description that you’d like to know more about? Ask the question.

Who your interviewer is

Odds are good you will know your interviewer’s name. Great. Now you can start cyber stalking them. Just kidding. Partly. Do scope them out online, though, starting with their LinkedIn profile. How long have they been in the role? Do you have anything in common? Not only will this help you come up with good conversation starters, it also helps psychologically prepare you for the task at hand.

Where the company is and exactly how to get there.

No brainer, right? You’d be surprised by how many people show up late for a job interview. Things happen, of course, that are often out of your control (looking at your TTC), but you can still prepare for the unexpected. Start by knowing exactly how to get where you need to be, and how long it will take you. And leave extra time for unforeseen circumstances.

What the people are like.

Hiring managers are all about fit, to the point where they will overlook a fantastic candidate if they don’t think the person will fit in with everyone else. So how do you make this work to your advance? Do your best to find out what people wear to work and what sort of environment it is. Are they socially conscious? Are the hipsters? Partyers? Teetotalers? Getting a sense of the crowd can help you decide how far you want to go to seem like a fit (Or decide you don’t want to work with these people after all).

What’s the main takeaway here? Do your research. It’s the one thing that will set you apart from the other candidates.


See also:

The 5 most common interview questions (and how to answer them like a boss)

How to shine during a telephone interview

Interview tips from the Toronto Academy of Acting

How to tailor your resume to any job posting


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