Maggie Stamets is a writer for BUILT BY GIRLS, which prepares the next generation of female and non-binary leaders to step into their power and break into their careers. WAVE is the backbone of BUILT BY GIRLS: it’s a 1:1 matching program that connects high school and college students with top tech professionals across the country. For more information and to sign up check out builtbygirls.com.
Interviews are nerve-wracking to say the least, especially if you’re shy or not great at thinking on your feet. The secret to walking into any interview confidently? Do your research.
Arm yourself with as much information as possible, so no question feels out of left field. Plus, this is a great way to get yourself even more excited about your possible future job.
Here’s a research checklist to prep for an interview:
What is the company’s mission?
First thing’s first, learn what the company believes in. Start by checking out the company website, in particular, the “About” page, which should highlight their mission and values. You’re looking to learn about what drives the company and its top executives: Is the company philanthropic, all about the customer, or driven by business? Take note of how your own values may align with those.
Has the company been in the news?
Once you know what the company does and supports, Google it. Does the company have any recent news stories or was it featured in a blog? This will clue you in on some of its recent wins (or missteps). Remember these stories, so you can casually mention that you saw an article about that big project or partnership the company had.
What is the company culture?
Learning about the company culture early on will help you decipher if it’s the right place for you. Does it appear very corporate, relaxed, or creative? And is that an environment where you thrive in?
This can be harder to figure out from only external sources, but stalking the company’s social media, newsletter, or blog is a good place to start. You can also review resources like Glassdoor and LinkedIn to see what past and present employees say about the company and/or job. (Take those with a grain of salt, as everyone’s experience is different.)
The best way to learn about a company vibe is by talking to a current employee. However, don’t go adding people on Facebook. Instead, put feelers out in your network to see if anyone there can make a connection for you.
Who are the company’s competitors?
See who are its biggest competitors and what types of projects they are working on. This is impressive information to have in your back pocket because it shows you’re tuned into the company’s industry.
Who is the company’s target audience?
Find out who its users are and learn everything you can about them: age, geographic location, gender, passion and pain points. Being keyed into the company’s user will help inform your answers to interview questions about the business or brand.
Who are the company leaders?
Look up the leaders of the company. When was it started and why? Who are the people at the top making the big decisions? Being aware of who the CEO, founder, and chief financial officer (CFO) are is a good idea in case their names come up. You don’t want to be caught off guard not knowing who the big players are.
Who is interviewing you?
This may be the most important pre-interview step. Find the person interviewing you on LinkedIn and familiarize yourself with their profile. This will help you learn about their role, what’s important to them, and if you have any commonalities. When you know who is interviewing you, it’s easier to come up with answers that will relate to them and their role.
Once you’ve learned all about the company, your role, and the interviewer, look up common interview questions for your role and try answering them aloud. The more comfortable you are talking about yourself and your work ahead of time, the better you’ll do when the pressure is on.
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