How to prepare for a job interview

So you’ve finally secured an interview at your dream job and now comes the part most people dread- spending time preparing for a job interview. Last week, we gave you a full guide including how to prepare for a job interview, what to do during the interview and tips for after the interview, to help you excel and secure an offer. If you haven’t read that blog yet, you can take a gander at it here!

In the meantime, let’s focus on one of the most crucial parts of any job interview – learning how to prepare for a job interview. Being fully prepared for your interview will help you shake off some of your nerves, build your confidence, impress your interviewers and help you decide if the role and company are a good fit for you. More importantly, conducting substantial and in-depth research into the company and position before your interview can and will help you differentiate yourself from other candidates applying for the same job. So, let’s get started, shall we?

How to start your research

Step 1: Begin with the company’s website.

Before you start conducting a full-scale stalking session, it’s best to ease your way in by starting with the company website. When on the company website, don’t just stick to the ‘about us’ page or the page dedicated to your specific job role, go through it all.

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking “Well, that’s a bit much, is it necessary?” and you are indeed right it is a lot, and it absolutely without a doubt is necessary when preparing for a job interview. The company website is basically an open book about the company. It can help give a good idea into the company’s core values, their key players, what they do, and how they make money, which leads me into my next point.

Understand the company business model

When researching the company website, focus on understanding the company business model. Why? More often than not, your interviewer will ask you “What do you know about the company and how it works?” By asking you this question, interviewers are checking to see how much research you’ve done into the company and what you know about them. Your answer to this question may even determine if you’ll get to move onto the second round of interviews or even decide whether you’ll receive a job offer.

This is often one of the first questions interviewers will ask. Hence, it is vitally important when preparing for a job interview to do your research, as if you struggle to answer this question, the interviewer may immediately make up their mind not to hire you and what you say in the rest of the interview won’t matter.

So, to avoid struggling with the answer to this question, spend time learning how the company makes its money once you have an idea of the “how”, work on explaining it to them in simple terms. By learning how the business works, you’ll be able to impress them with answers to their questions. Another advantage of this is that you will be able to understand how you and your skillset can be utilised to help the company become more efficient and successful and then you can use this to highlight why you are the best person for the role!

Step 2: Assess the company

Once you have an understanding of the business model, it’s time to do your own assessment of potential company risks. Note down some areas that the company could improve on and what risks they face by not addressing the issue. How do you utilise this in your interview? With a one-two punch. If the interviewer asks “Why do you think you are a good fit for this role?” You can bring up some of the risks you noticed in your initial research (punch one) followed by how your skills and previous experience can help fix the issues and help the company move forward (punch two). You can thank us later.

Step 3: Learn about their industry and check out their competitors

So now that you know about the company, their business model, and their weaknesses the next step in preparing for a job interview is to look a little more into the industry the company operates in, especially if it’s a new industry for you. Look into what is currently happening in the industry and what it will mean for the industry in the future. Having an understanding of the industry as a whole can help you impress your interviewer.

Another top tip on how to prepare for a job interview is to look at the company’s competitors.

You can find out more about their competitors by going to their company LinkedIn page and scrolling down to the “Similar Pages” section. Here, you can find companies similar to the company you are interviewing for. Once you have found their competitors, spend some time learning what their competitors are doing in comparison to what they are currently doing in the market.

After this, spend some time figuring out what makes your company different from the competitors. Find their unique selling point or what product or service of theirs makes them better or different from competitors.

Once you’ve researched their competitors and the company’s USP…

It’s time to use all that knowledge and think about how you will include it in your answers. This is one of the most common areas that people struggle when preparing for a job interview, they find all this information but don’t consider how they will use it in the interview, and ultimately they forget or don’t use most of their research. Although you can’t predict the exact questions that you will be asked, when preparing for a job interview, have a look into common interview questions and think about how you would include your research in your answers.

Often people will leave reviews on Glassdoor which contain some of the questions they were asked in an interview for a particular company so be sure to check out if the company your interview is with is on there! If you can give answers that show off your research, highlight that you have an understanding of the company’s USP as well as their competitors you will show the employer that you put a lot of effort into your interview prep and that you really want the role.

Trust us; they will be in awe of you.

Step 4: Use Google and Google News

Start your search off easy by merely googling the company. Read through all relevant links, including news articles! You can find any news about the company by clicking on the “news” tab on google. This can help you find the good, the bad and the ugly. If it’s good news, you can bring it up at the beginning of your interview. If it isn’t great news, you can investigate it a little more and keep it in mind when considering a potential offer from the company. You can also decide if you want to bring it up to during the interview to get their perspective on the situation.

Though this may be a risky move, it does show the interviewer that you did lots of research, and if it is major news, then it may be something they expect you to bring up. If the news doesn’t reflect well on the company and the response from the interviewer isn’t great either, then this is something you can consider when deciding if you want to work for them. Part of how to prepare for a job interview is deciding from your research whether you feel like the company is a good fit for you and a place you would like to work.

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Step 5: Check out their Glassdoor reviews

We discussed this briefly in one of the previous steps. Glassdoor’s online platform is dedicated to being transparent about what it means to work in various companies. This is done through anonymous reviews left by former or current employees. It can give a great insight into the actual work environment for employees rather than what the interviewer may try to sell to you. Similar to what you did with the news, read through all the reviews, both good and bad, to help you get a better understanding if this is a company you are happy to join.

Step 6: Find out what their brand ‘personality’ is.

This point is especially important when preparing for a job interview related to marketing, sales, or any social media positions. Find out how the company portrays itself on their social media. If you are applying for any of the jobs I mentioned above, note down the things they do well, their areas of improvement and any ideas you have to develop their brand awareness or engagement strategy further.

Interviewers will often ask you what you thought of their current marketing campaigns or social media content, so you want to be prepared with some points to discuss. Get creative as well, don’t just give the most obvious points, think of some of your own ideas as to how you could shake up their content.

In addition to this, you can learn more about what the company has been doing through their social media accounts. Did they announce a new product or service? What are their values on social media? You can find the answer to these questions and more simply by looking at their social media accounts.

Step 7: Check out their LinkedIn

Like social media, LinkedIn is also an excellent avenue for you to see how the company communicates on a more professional platform. Likewise, you can find out more about the company size and some of the employees currently working there. But before doing this, make sure your own Linkedin profile is squared away as they will most likely check out your profile once they’ve been notified that you’ve viewed their own.

Also, consider sending a private message to some of the current employees with similar roles to the one you’re applying for. Ask about their experience at the company and more about their role and day-to-day tasks. This will not only get you an insider’s perspective on the company culture but also help you liaise with some current employees there who can maybe help put in a good word for you or may even end up being your interviewer!

Check out your interviewer while you’re at it!

If you know who will be interviewing you, be sure to look at their LinkedIn profile. Find out a little more about them and their experience and any common interests you may have. These are things you can bring up throughout the interview for more a seamless conversation, and it can help you overcome some of the awkwardness that comes with interviewing.

Alongside this, you can also learn more about the role your interviewer plays in the company. Are they a key player? How long have they been at the company? Did they start in a different position at the company from the one they are in now? These are things to note down when preparing for a job interview, and it can even help you create questions to ask your interviewer at the end of it. Asking questions about your interview will not only show off your research but allow you to connect with them, which is critical to ensuring that they leave with a good impression of you.

Final Thoughts

By spending time learning how to prepare for a job interview, you will only be setting yourself up for success. You will be able to walk into your next interview feeling confident and ready to show off your knowledge and why you are the best candidate for the position. As they say, it’s one thing to talk the talk but another to walk the walk. You can do this by backing up your experience with solid research and strong responses.

Thought you were done with learning how to prepare for a job interview? Think again! Tune in next week to find out more about the type of questions you should be asking during the interview.

Until next time, everyone!

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Julia Hurtado

Julia Hurtado

Having spent an entire summer dedicated to travelling abroad, Julia now focuses on helping other students experience life outside their home country. As an American now working in London, Julia enjoys sharing advice on interning abroad, sipping tea (with 2 sugars, 1 milk please) and reading in her spare time.

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