The Interview Road Map, Part Three – Company Information

By: Fred Coon, Chairman, CEO

After studying parts one and two of the interview road map, has it occurred to you that you already know the majority of what could be discussed in your interview?

SC&C Interview Road MapAs you think back over the key objectives of the road map’s resume and the job description pieces, remember the key objective of each one–being in the position and using your background to defend and sell every ACTION word on both the job description and your resume. Now let’s move to the next part of the interview road map, company information. You have the same objective with this part, using your background so that you will be able to fit into a company’s culture as you learn about the organization.

Some might ask what value is this type of research as all companies speak of themselves in double glowingly terms. Great, then all you have to do is to be in the position to present your achievements and background in double glowingly terms, but doing your homework and the research, you can learn a lot about a company. Your aim for this part of the road map is to answer this question–how do you fit into the company’s criteria, the company’s overall philosophy? There is one little point to keep in mind when studying a company: continually ask yourself, do I like what I am learning?

By the way, I do not believe we mentioned this before as our focus has been on behavioral interviews; however, you have two things to sell your job knowledge (i.e., the technical knowledge) and what you use to get work done (behavioral competencies). The later can and should come into play even if you are in a traditional interview; therefore, if you are asked how you would do something, tell them, and then follow up with a previous example of what decisions and actions you took in a similar situation. Remember what Havey Mackey said:

“A salesperson tells; a good salesperson explains; and a great salesperson demonstrates.”

Company Information to Know

SC&C Interview Road Map Compay InformationOkay, back to the third piece of the interview road map, company information. For this, there are a variety of approaches. First and most obvious is going to the company’s website. There is no excuse for not knowing a great deal about a company you are going to be interviewed by, including the following:

  • Location of headquarters
  • Performance history
  • Principle mangers
  • Products
  • Upcoming products
  • Major customers
  • National and international service areas
  • Significant business changes
  • Last share price, if traded publically
  • Share price change from day before your interview

Reason, it would not be a surprise, gained from my many years of interview research and counseling, that questions could be asked covering such seemingly minor details. It would also not surprise me that you would end up knowing more about the company than the person who is interviewing you. Yes, folks can get lazy in this area.

From the company’s website you can learn of their strategy, history, code of conduct, corporate governance, as well as information about such things as creativeness, innovation, leader of something, brands, and senior management.

Company Descriptors / Keywords

As you are reading through all of this information, be thoughtful of the descriptors they use and start planning how you would demonstrate how used them in your background. In a sense you are learning to speak their language. So if they talk innovative, creative, leader, best in class, success is ideas, management’s door is always open, then you should be ready to demonstrate, using your achievements, how you fit those descriptions. It is a case of being thoughtful while reading all these nice things. In addition to fitting your achievements to them, you can use the same material for framing questions you may ask during the interviews.

Remember LinkedIn

SC&C Interview Road Map LinkedInAnd, as always, don’t forget about LinkedIn! As you identify the principle management players, get on LinkedIn to see who knows who. Seems I continually hear about how surprised people are about who knows who when looking at the connections on that site. You can ask for information from those contacts.

I am not asking that you belittle yourself, but is it possible to be in a company’s parking lot and start a conversation with someone. At a secured lot talk with the guard and find out what she or he knows. Open that door by saying that you are going to be interviewing with the company and you might be surprised how helpful people become. If you are getting desperate, there are usually places where some of those people go to after work. You may get some feedback just by keeping your ears open. Of course that is assuming you live in the same city.

Note: if you are in a social place, the fact that you are going to be interviewed is not a topic to advertise. You could be talking to the person whose job you are being interviewed for. Be safe. All you are trying to find out is what the company is like.

In the area of a company’s products, it is very easy to determine who the users are, along with suppliers and distributors. All of these folks have some information about the company. All you have to do is to call.

Your Happiness

LSC&C Interview Road Map Your Happinessast but not least, a very important aspect to research is the company’s culture. It wasn’t too many years ago that many of us did not pay much attention, if any, to the organization’s culture and our happiness. Think of it this way, you are on the job a minimum of eight hours a day, five days a week; your happiness goes well beyond having a job and a paycheck. Your productivity, your being excited about your contribution, your willingness to tell people about your company, and your physical well-being are all part of the culture.

Several companies make culture statements about who they are and their philosophy. Some have what is identified as “About Us information” on their sites. Companies have job listings which present the structure of various positions and job duties. Look at the job structures and they can indicate what it is like to work there. You have been around and you can make decision on good job structures and on poor job structures. It is just a matter of what your brain is telling you as you read!

Once again a company could be involved in LinkedIn, where a lot can be learned about their employees and backgrounds along with new projects. Reviewing this material could help you to form the building blocks for questions you may ask. It is a certainty that this question will come up in an interview, “Do you have questions you want to ask?” Your goal in this research is to identify key items in terms of your career and position interests.

The bottom line is that there is no excuse to go into an interview and not know the significant details about a company. You are looking at information that could affect your career, your happiness and your family, so your careful examination of all of these detail is very important.

Briefing Book

SC&C Interview Road Map Briefing BookCertainly by now you are asking yourself how you are you going retain all of this information. I would recommend that you set up a briefing book, something that you could lay out in front of you or on your lap and that is easily referenced. Set it up so that you can easily go to sections. One section could be tagged Business Review. Another section could be what all this info tells you. Include a section on your presentation ideas. Another could cover the company’s reputation and what you learned from your network. There could be a section on what was learned from a recruiter and a key information summary. Another section could cover your question about the company. And don’t forget the extra resumes with this briefing book. It’s always good to have extra resumes on hand.

Conclusion

Okay, there are three parts of the interview road map: If you know how to defend and sell every action word on your resume and the job description and you can form a picture of why you fit the position and the company, you are ready to handle any interviewer’s questions in a positive fashion. So get ready to receive the offer!

The bottom line here is that you are anticipating and being ready to intelligently respond to whatever might come up in the interview. Look at it this way, you have plenty of information so you would be ready to respond to a key interview probe: What would be one of the first things you would do if you got this job?  Are you ready?