One of the most common things we are asked before going to an interview is “have you done your research?”. Majority of people, of course, would’ve researched into the company and their aims, goals, beliefs etc. But what people don’t ask is how much of this research is actually useful for your interview?
If you have 1 hour to showcase who you are, your experience, your attributes and try to sell yourself to the interviewer(s), regurgitating information from their company website may all be too much to try to cram in.
Why is research important?
First and foremost, people fear the unknown. So when you don’t prepare yourself for an interview situation, you’re more likely to be nervous as you’re not sure what you’re heading in to and you don’t have the same feel for the company that you would’ve if you’d have done your research.
By doing your research you can get a feel for the company’s culture and the type of people that fit in to the company and therefore, the type of people that may be interviewing you. Once you understand the type of people they look for, you can prepare some potential answers to showcase how you fit into that too.
It’s also useful to research these people who will be interviewing you as firstly you will recognise them when you first see them and you can understand more about them before the interview and you can compare and contrast their background to yours and make conversations relatable and personable in the interview.
What to Research…
1. The company’s culture, core values and its mission statement
2. Its key people
3. The person(s) interviewing you
4. Skills & experience valued by the company – you can use your job brief to help
5. Understanding what they do – their products/services and who they provide this to
6. Recent news
Another key thing to mention is knowing the role you’re being interviewed for. If you don’t know what the job entails when sat in front of interviewers, it’s not going to go down very well as it will be easily picked up on as many interview questions will be around the tasks of the job and your ability to carry out these tasks.
Is too much research possible?
No! When it comes to research, you can do as much or as little as you like, it’s just a tool to help you in interview and help you feel more prepared.
However, what is important is knowing how to prioritise this research into what needs mentioning and what’s useful to know if it comes up in conversation. You don’t want to be in an interview spending your time regurgitating the company’s website or the news articles about the company from 2012. It’s just not necessary and equally it’s a waste of valuable time you could be using to sell yourself.
What to mention…
This is where your research is going to come in useful, or at least some of it.
Remember, it’s not about how much information you can retain and spout out during the interview, this may actually have the adverse effect. It’s just about mentioning the right things at the right time.
Often one of the questions asked in interview is “what are our company’s key values?”. If you’ve done your research, you will know the answer and prove that you’ve bothered to do some research. But of course, there may be other interesting things you’ve found out about the company during your research that you may want to mention.
If you’re unsure where amongst interview questions you’re able to showcase some of your research then wait until the end and ask the interviewer(s) some questions about them, like their background – here you can mention their previous job you’ve come across on LinkedIn and this can spark a conversation between you. But remember, don’t make it too personal or come across like a stalker!
Equally, if you’ve found out some recent news about the company that’s interesting, you could ask questions about this in your interview as it can help you stand out from other candidates.
Other than questions the interviewer(s) ask you relevant to the research you have done, we would suggest mentioning 2 or 3 other things you’ve found out about the company that’s relevant and interesting as this isn’t overwhelming for the interviewers, it’s just a nice subtle way of telling them you’ve done your research.