Join Valerie Sutton for an in-depth discussion in this video Researching companies, part of Acing Your Interview (2013).
Up to now, we've been preparing for questions that the interviewer will be asking you. However, you'll also want to interview the company to make sure that it is the right organization and role for you. Asking questions not only confirms your interest in the company, but also can be used to make you stand out in the interview process. You will want to demonstrate your knowledge of the organization and interest in the position. There are five categories of questions that I recommend you prepare. First, you should prepare a question to ask about the company. You want to demonstrate your interest but you also want to confirm what you've learned about the company in your research.
Second, you should have a question about the history of the position. By asking why the position is vacant, you will gain insight into the organization and the potential for advancement. Third, you should ask a question about the job responsibilities. This will allow them to see you in that role, and help you gain a solid understanding of the position. Fourth, you will want to ask about the expectations of the position. This will allow you to see how you'll be evaluated.
Finally, you'll want to ask what the next steps are in the process. This is important so you know when to follow up. To develop your own list of questions, you should derive them from the research you have done on the organization. Let's use Lynda.com as an example. You can start with their website. Websites can give you an enormous amount of information, including strategic plans, annual reports, new product information, and much more. Let's look at their homepage.
This site has a lot of information to start developing your questions. One of the first things you will see is the extent of their video collection. If you are interviewing for a production position, you may have questions like, how many average new releases in a month? Or, how is your workload determined? Another thing you will see are the different subject areas. You might ask, how are the productions assigned within each topic of business, design, audio, et cetera. Can I focus on one topic, like business? If you dive deeper in the website, you can find even more information.
I always like the About sections of the company websites. Many times in this section, you will find annual reports and strategic documents. We can also take a look at the press release's page to find news. After reading this press release on the acquisition of video to brain, a good question might be, what are your plans to integrate the video content of the two companies? You want to go beyond what the company pitches to get a broader set of questions.
Articles can be a good source of information about companies. You can see this search brings up quite a bit of information on the company from a variety of sources. Each article contains information that you may not have found on the company's site that will allow you to ask deeper questions. Now let's take this a step further by researching individuals at the organization. Social networking sites, like LinkedIn are a great place to start. Let's say that I was interviewing with Jeff Layton.
I can see that he worked with me and Dave Crenshaw on the courses. In an interview, I could ask, how these projects were organized and how he was evaluated on the success of these projects. I can also see that his job title has changed steadily. A great question to ask could be, what is the career path for a producer? The benefit to you is you gain a deeper understanding of the company in a shorter amount of time. Research like this does not have to take long, and it will allow you to stand out as a knowledgeable candidate.
Once you've completely prepared, you're ready to go into the interview, which we'll discuss next.
- Understanding interview formats
- Anticipating questions and preparing answers
- Researching potential employers
- Establishing good body language in the interview
- Reviewing your performance
- Answering questions using the Situation-Action-Result method
Skill Level Intermediate
Q: Where can I learn more about communication skills?
A: Discover more on this topic by visiting communication skills on lynda.com.
Q: This course was updated on 6/05/2013. What changed?
A: We added new videos on handling tricky and possibly illegal interview questions, what your body language says about you, and how to answer questions with the SAR (Situation-Action-Result) method.