Tag Archives: interview

5 steps to answer, “Tell us about a time when you had to deal with pressure”

You’re in a group interview and it’s been going smoothly. You’ve answered the questions you prepared for. To your credit, you read the job description and identified the most important requirements for the job, Marketing Manager.

Mock Interview

The interview is going so well that you’re wondering when the hammer will fall. When will the killer question be asked? That question would be, “Tell us about a time when you had to deal with pressure.”

In the job description, one sentence read, “You will be working in a fun, fast-paced, pressure packed environments. If you like challenges, this is the job for you.”

Sure enough one of the interviewers asks the question you were dreading. “Jane, tell us about a time when you had to deal with pressure. How did you approach it, and what was the result?”

Great, a behavioral-based question. You never considered what you did at your last job as having to deal with pressure. Pressure wasn’t in your vocabulary. Coming to the interview, you ran a scenario over and over in your mind.

The interviewer is waiting for your answer. How are you going to respond? You decide that you’ll ask for some clarification first. “This is a great question but one I’m having trouble with,” you say. “Would you give me an example?”

“I’m referring to a time when you had to meet a deadline as a Marketing Manager. There will be deadlines to meet here,” one of the interviewer says calmly.

All of the sudden it occurs to you that you had many deadlines to meet, and that you met almost all of them, 95% at least. You will have no problem answering the question honestly. It’s just a matter of recalling the specifics of a story that comes to mind.

“Thank you Ms. Jones. This helps a lot.”

Remembering the S.T.A.R formula a career coach told you to use, you begin your story.

Situation

Three years ago I was hired by my previous organization to manage the marketing department. One major problem the company had was a lack of social media presence. I mentioned this in my interview with them.

Task

Shortly after I was hired, I was given the task of creating a more robust social media presence. The VP of the organization came into my office and gave me the exciting news; and as he was leaving, he told me I had a month to pull it off.

Actions

  • The first thing I did after hearing the news was evaluate the situation. We had a Facebook page that was barely getting hits. Some of our employees had LinkedIn accounts, and that was about it.
  • I approached one of my employees whose LinkedIn profile was strong and asked if she would be willing to create a LinkedIn company page. I was strong with LinkedIn, but knew very little about a company page. She was excited to take this on.
  • As I left her cubicle, she told me she would also take on the Facebook page. I joked with her about taking on Twitter. She told me it would be too much work, in addition to her other responsibilities. I agreed.
  • From looking at our competitors’ social media campaigns, I realized our strongest competitor had the top three I mentioned, as well as Instagram and Pinterest. I didn’t have the staff to implement these two platforms. I would need to hire a person to take these on.
  • My VP agreed to letting me hire a person to take on Instagram and Pinterest, but told me I had a budget of 20K. I was able to negotiate 5K more, plus an additional month on the deadline.
  • The person I hired was looking for part-time work, 25 hours a week, and knew Instagram and Pinterest very well, having taught it at a local community college. He agreed upon 22K for salary.
  • The last step was letting our clients and partners know about our new campaign. Once the campaign was a few weeks off the ground, I had one of the staff send out a mass mailing through ConstantContact, letting them know about our campaign.

Result

At first the reaction I was hoping for from our audience was sluggish, but after a month our visits to Facebook increased by 300%. LinkedIn visits increased by 50%, and Twitter gained 50% more followers. Instagram also did well with 4 visits a day. It was agreed that Pinterest would be dropped after a month since its inception.

Even with the extended due date I negotiated, my staff were able to complete the task by a month and a half. In addition, my VP decided that our new hire would be offered a full-time position monitoring all of the platforms.


There’s one more component of your story to make it complete: what you learned. This will close the loop.

Learn

What I took away from this experience is that when the pressure’s on, I react with decisiveness. I’m more than confident I will do the same for you.


This behavioral-based question is a common one asked in interviews. Be prepared to answer it and make sure you use the S.T.A.R formula. This is the best way to tell your story.

Advertisements

4 ways to learn about workplace values before you’re hired

Think about the job you disliked the most. Perhaps it was because the work environment was toxic. Maybe you weren’t able to see your children’s events because of the commute home. You weren’t given the autonomy you craved. Or you were working at a dead-end position. The company for which you worked lacked integrity. There are many reasons why employees are dissatisfied with companies for which they work.

Stressed young businessman

The above are examples of how workplace core values are not met. How important are workplace core values? Statistics show that work values are more important than salary, unless earning a high salary is your main core value.

A Harvard Business Review article supports this statement:

“One of the most striking results we’ve found is that, across all income levels, the top predictor of workplace satisfaction is not pay: It is the culture and values of the organization, followed closely by the quality of senior leadership and the career opportunities at the company. Among the six workplace factors we examined, compensation and benefits were consistently rated among the least important factors of workplace happiness.”

This brings to question how you ensure that you take a job which meets your core values. Here are four ways to discover the core values employers support, from worse to best.

4. Ask in the interview

This is the worst way to determine the company’s core values, as it may be too late. (It’s always best going into an interview with your eyes wide open.) You can ask the recruiter during the telephone interview.

However, he might not know much about the company’s values, especially if he’s an agency recruiter (not on site). A corporate recruiter would have a better idea of the company’s values; although, not as accurate as a hiring manager’s.

You may be able to ask the question, “Can you tell me a little bit about the company’s core values?” during the interview. But more likely you’d ask this question at the last phase of the interview when they ask if you have any questions for them.

If this is your only opportunity, ask the questions as such: “What are (Company X’s) top three core values?” This is a question that will challenge the interviewers and indicate that you’re serious about working for the company.

3. Comb through company reviews on a site like glassdoor.com

I’m skeptical of a site like Glassdoor. My thought is that disgruntled current or former employees won’t speak objectively about their present or past companies. And, reportedly, some employers have launched paid campaigns to encourage positive reviews.

However, there could be value in this site’s reviews if the they are consistent; if most of them are positive or negative. I looked at two companies, one a nationally known monolith and the other a largish company local to Boston. They were consistently positive in their reviews.

Dell EMC had a whopping 4.3K reviews and a 76% “Recommend to a friend” rating. In terms of pros and cons, work-life balance was the top value mentioned: 507 applauded the work-life balance, whereas 107 trashed the work/life balance.

The other company, Kronos, also did consistently well. Of the 1.3K employees who posted a review, 81% would recommend this company to a friend. Not surprisingly work-life balance was the number one value: 239 favored it; 45 employees saw it as a con.

2. Find someone on LinkedIn who can speak about the company

LinkedIn can be a great tool for finding people who work for your target companies; or better yet, worked for your target companies. It’s important to know how to locate people at said companies. You’re going to get very familiar with LinkedIn’s All Filters feature.

How to use LinkedIn’s All Filters

  1. First click in the Search bar at the top of most pages.
  2. Choose People.
  3. Click on All Filters.
  4. Type in the company name.
  5. Select second degree connection.
  6. Select Current or Past companies.
  7. Choose location.
  8. Scroll down to enter the title of the person you would like to approach.

Second degree connection who works for your target company

If you are a Premium account member (most likely Career), use one of your five Inmails to message someone who shares a common connection with you. You may mention in the first line:

“Hello Susan, you and I are connected with John Schmidt, who encouraged me to reach out to you….”

What if you don’t have a premium account? Go to the person’s Contact Info box on her profile and send her an email. Or, send an invite for quick action. My suggestion is to proceed like you would if you have a premium account in terms of the message you send. Indicate you share a common connection who will vouch for you.

Read this post to learn more about how to properly communicate with a possible connection.

Second degree connection who USED to work for your target company

Job seekers often don’t think of reaching out to someone on LinkedIn who used to work for their target companies. I tell my workshop attendees that these people can be their best online source of information, as they will most likely provide the truth. They have nothing to lose.

Again, if you don’t have a premium account and have to send an invite, it’s best to mention a common connection. Be sure the common connection you mention is amenable to vouching for you. There are many connections who will vouch for me, but there are some who (I hate to admit) I hardly know.

1. Have a mole in the company who will tell you about the company’s values

This is the best way to discover the values your potential employer supports. The person/people you ask, via LinkedIn or in person, are onsite and experience the company’s core values on a daily basis. They can provide intricate details, whereas glassdoor.com and current and former employees on LinkedIn might not be as willing to go into details.

I recall applying for a job that was posted by an employer I was considering working for. I knew someone within the organization who was very open about the company’s culture. She described an environment where management was so abusive toward their employees that people were quitting. Needless to say, I didn’t apply for the job.


Your workplace core values are not to be ignored when applying for positions. They can make the difference between being happy or unhappy. An exercise I have my workshop attendees do is write down their top five values, not an easy task for many. Then I have them narrow it down to three and finally one. Can you identify your top value? I bet it’s not salary.

This post originally appeared in www.job-hunt.org

Photo: Flickr, Reputation Tempe

How to Answer “Tell Me About a Time You Made a Mistake” in 4 Easy Steps

No one likes to talk about the mistakes they’ve made. However, interviewers want to know about more than just your successes. They want to hear it all — the good, the bad, and the ugly. This includes your mistakes.

Attention

This is why I’m surprised when I conduct mock interviews and my participants aren’t prepared for the common directive, “Tell me about a time when you made a mistake.” I explain to my participants that good interviewers will challenge them with questions like this. The best interviewers want to get a full sense of their applicants.

When a candidate can answer these challenging questions about their negative experiences, they demonstrate their self-awareness and emotional intelligence.

Does that mean you have to share the story of your most egregious failure? Of course not — and I don’t think interviewers want you to. However, telling them about a time when you handed in a report two days late is disingenuous. You have to strike a balance.

Here are four steps to take when answering interview questions about your mistakes and failures:

1. Prepare for Them

Always try to anticipate these questions. For example, let’s say you’re a project manager. You know conflict resolution is a key component to your job success. Moreover, you noticed that the posting for the job for which you are preparing to interview specifically calls for someone with experience in running teams and handling conflict.

In this situation, you would reflect on some times when there were internal conflicts among team members. Choose a story that demonstrates some error in your judgment — but not too much error. Similarly, you don’t want to share a story centered on someone else’s mistake. Remember, you want to show self-awareness by admitting to a time when you made a mistake.

2. Keep Your Example Short

I recommend you keep your answer to 30 seconds. Some people talk much longer than that. In doing so, they provide too much background information, and they often make their mistakes sound worse than they are.

Keep your answer brief by sticking to the problem, action, result (PAR) format. For example:

Problem: I recall a time when one member of our team wasn’t pulling his weight and another member confronted this person.

Action: I didn’t act soon enough. As a result, there was a standoff that lasted for many months.

Result: We were able to meet the deadline for the project we were tasked with, and I was praised by management for delivering a quality product on time and under budget.

3. Explain What You Learned From Your Mistake

Even if your example has a happy ending, your story isn’t complete until you’ve demonstrated your understanding of what you could have done differently.

In the above example, you might say something like:

Even though the team I led successfully delivered the project, it didn’t sit well with me that two of my teammates were at odds with each other. I met with them after the project concluded and helped resolve the conflict, but I now know I should have addressed it earlier.

This example accomplishes three objectives. First, it explains the problem and what you did to address the problem. Second, it shows how you achieved success despite the problem. Third, it demonstrates your self-awareness by outlining what you learned from the experience.

4. Be Ready for Follow-Up Questions

Interviewers will often want to know more about the situation, such as: How serious was the conflict? Did it threaten to disrupt the team’s activities? Why didn’t you act sooner? When you finally met with the two members, how did you handle it?

Don’t be surprised if an interviewer tries to dig a little deeper. This is just a sign that they want to know more. Answer any follow-up questions calmly. As always, you want to be honest, but you don’t want to overemphasize the magnitude of your mistake.


While many job seekers take steps to prepare for interviews, few ever think about how they will present their negative workplace experiences. However, it’s likely the interviewer will want to know about your failures. Don’t take it personally. They just want to know more about you. That’s a good thing.

3 ways to show employers what you CAN do in the future

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Employers don’t care about what you’ve done; they care about what you will do.” If you haven’t heard this, rest assured it’s the truth.

futuredoors

By conducting multiple interviews—including phone, one-on-one, group, Skype, you name it—employers are trying to determine how you can save them money, improve quality, increase revenue, improve productivity, and help the company in other ways.

Employers believe that if you’ve achieved multiple accomplishments relative to the position, you will repeat similar accomplishments. On the other hand, if your accomplishments are not relevant, you’re applying for the wrong position.

But it’s not only about the relevant accomplishments you’ve achieved. There are other factors that come into play when convincing employers that you’ll be valuable in the future. So what will you have to do in order to convince employers of your value?

1. Have the proper mindset

The first step in convincing employers that you’ll perform for them in the future is having the proper mindset. People who lack this mindset are like former jocks who talk about his glory days in high school. They are stuck in the past.

More importantly, people who lack this mindset can’t envision what they can do for companies in the future. They can’t see the big picture.

I recently gave a group of job seekers the challenge to tell me what their legacy will be from now until 2027; in other words, what will they have accomplished after 10 years. I asked them to think big picture.

A member in the group said one thing he will do is increase revenue by developing relationships with value added resellers (VARs).

I naturally asked him how he knows this. He told the group that he did it twice in the recent past and there’s no question that he’ll do it in the future. He spoke with confidence, knowing what he accomplished in the past can be repeated in the future.

Another member said she will improve communications for nonprofit organizations. She’ll coordinate events, manage social media, create content for the website. How, some of the group members asked. She’s done it in the past and is confident she’ll do it in the future.

2. Write about your future greatness on your résumé and LinkedIn profile

The language you use in your Performance Profile of your résumé is written in present tense because this is the section that initially states what you will bring to the employer.

Writing, “Consistently increase productivity more than 70% by implementing Agile methodology,” tells employers you’ll do this at their company. Whereas, “Increased productivity more than 70% by implementing Agile methodology,” doesn’t allude to the future.

You must also prioritize your statements by listing your outstanding accomplishments closest to the top of the résumé. The more relevant accomplishments you have on the first page is an indication of the value you’ll bring to the employer.

Notice the word “relevant?” Accomplishments that are relevant and include quantified results are an indication of future greatness.

Your LinkedIn profile Summary should tell a story of the passion you have for your occupation, as well as your value add. Because the profile is more generic and broader in scope than your résumé, you will include more recent accomplishments in the Summary. This is the first section employers will read, so make it pack a punch.

Heres a hint: the first line or two of your LinkedIn profile Summary should be a value statement, as the Summary of the new profile is truncated. You need to make the reader of your Summary want to read the rest of it.

3. Talk about your future greatness in interviews

Many interviewers are focused on the past; therefore, they don’t ask questions that ask about future success. It is up to you to provide answers that illustrate what you will do in the future. You must demonstrate that you are capable of future greatness.

You’re given the popular question, “Why should we hire you?” You must set the tone by delivering an opening statement that talks to the future.

Right: “I am a sales manager who consistently exceeds sales projections. I know you’re looking for the same performance, and I will deliver the performance you require.

Wrong: “I’ve been in sales for 20 years. My most recent job was as a manager.” The beginning of your answer doesn’t convey the fact that you are a sales manager and that you will exceed sales projections.

Many interviewers believe the best type of question is the behavioral-based, which gives you the opportunity to explain your past experience and how it will be repeated in the future. This is the premise behind this type of question.

What’s important in answering this type of question is assuring that your past behavior will be repeated in the future. Begin with a statement similar to, “Most recently, I performed (the following skill)…..” Then ending your answer with, “I will achieve the same accomplishments for you.”

Answer questions using behavioral-based ones whenever possible. Proof is what interviewers want to hear. Take the following traditional question.

“How do you define leadership?” Your reply is to say, “This is an excellent question. Can I give you an example or two how I’ve recently demonstrated leadership?” End your answer with, “Leadership comes easy to me, and I look forward to leading your finance team going forward.”


Using the what-I’ll-do-for-you-in-the-future approach in the job search can be particularly helpful for older job seekers who may falsely be judged as being past their prime.

From the conversation our job club had it is obvious that older workers can and will repeat what they’ve accomplished in the past, and perhaps more. Another member who said she’ll create transparency in the sales reporting process using CRM was convincing because she’s done it successfully in the past. As well, she spoke with confidence.

Photo: Flickr, cthoma27

Nailing the interview process, part 7: following up

Some job seekers believe the interview is over once they’ve shaken the interviewer’s hand and left the room. “That went well,” they think. “Now, it’s time to wait for the decision.”

Thank You

Perhaps it did go well, but perhaps one or two other candidates also had stellar interviews. Perhaps those other candidates followed up on their interviews with thoughtful thank-you notes.

So when is the interview really over? Not until you’ve sent a follow-up note.

If you don’t believe sending a follow-up note is important, you should know that:

– 22 percent of employers are less likely to hire you if you don’t send a follow-up note;
– 86 percent of employers will take your lack of a note to mean you don’t follow through on things;
– and 56 percent of employers will assume you aren’t that serious about the job.

If you’re wondering how to go about following up, start by considering to whom you’ll send your note and how you’ll send it.

Who Gets a Thank-You Note?

If you’re interviewed by five people, how many unique follow-up notes should you send? “Five” is the correct answer here. Take the time to write a unique follow-up to everyone with whom you interview.

How Do You Send Your Note?

You can send your follow-up note via email or hard copy. This depends on your preference and the industry. For example, someone in tech may prefer an email, whereas someone in marketing may prefer a thank-you card.

According to the article linked above, 89 percent of interviewers say it’s acceptable to send a thank-you note via email. My suggestion is to send two notes: an email immediately following the interview and a professional card a week later.

What Goes in Your Note?

1. Show Your Gratitude

Start by thanking the interviewers for the time they took to meet with you. After all, they’re busy folks, and they probably don’t enjoy interviewing people.

2. Reiterate You’re the Right Person for the Job

Explain again how your skills, experience, and accomplishments are relevant to the role and make you a good fit.

3. Cite Some Interesting Points Made During the Interview

Each person with whom you spoke mentioned something of interest or asked a pertinent question. Impress them with your listening skills by revisiting those interesting points.

4. Do Some Damage Control

How many candidates wish they could elaborate more on an answer or fix some mistake they made? Now’s your chance. Sure, your belated corrective action may be of little consequence, but what do you have to lose? Besides, interviewers understand you were under a great deal of pressure at the time.

5. Suggest a Solution to a Problem

During the course of the interview, you likely learned about a problem the company is facing. If you have a possible solution to this problem, mention it in your follow-up note or in a more extensive proposal sent along with the note. One of my clients is convinced she landed a previous job because she sent a four-page proposal on how to solve a problem the company had mentioned during the course of the interview.

6. Assert You Want the Job

You told the interviewer(s) you want the job. Reiterate this sentiment by stating it in you follow-up note. This can be as simple as asking about next steps, which shows your enthusiasm for and sincere interest in the position.


You’ve made it this far in the process. You’ve:

  1. mentally prepared yourself;
  2. come to know yourself;
  3. done your research;
  4. practiced;
  5. made a good first impression;
  6. and answered the difficult questions.

It would be a shame to blow it now by not following up.

Photo: Flickr, Christie Spad

Nailing the interview process; part 5. First impressions matter

I’m sure you were told, as a child, to look the person with whom you were talking in the eyes. You were also instructed to deliver a firm, yet gentle, handshake; not a limp one. I bet you were told to smile, as well. Your guardians wanted you to come across as likable, because being likable would get you far in this world.

Handshake

Guess what; all of the lessons you were taught as a child apply today. Now that you’re an adult, you still need to maintain consistent eye contact, deliver a great handshake, smile, and more. And if you’re interviewing, your first impressions count more than ever.

It’s believed that 33% of employers will make a decision to not hire you within 90 seconds based on the first impressions you make.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But this is how important first impressions count, so don’t take them lightly. Let’s look at some interviewers’ pet peeves to make sure you don’t commit them in the interview.

1. Poor Eye Contact. Mentioned earlier, making the appropriate amount of eye contact is important. Which means that you don’t have to stare at the person for many minutes; that’s just creepy. You can look away occasionally, as this shows you’re reflecting.

Good eye contact shows engagement and implies trust. Poor eye contact may imply that you’re avoiding a question, you’re disinterested, or you’re lying. People who are shy need to make a concerted effort to make eye contact with the interviewers.

2. Not Knowing Enough About the Company. This is considered a first impression, because it shows you didn’t prepare for the interview. If you are asked what you know about the company, and you answer, “I was hoping to learn about the company in the interview,” you’ve failed at this very first important first impression.

Employers want to know that you have done your research on their company, as well as the position and even the competition. Will you come across as prepared, or do you appear to not care? It should be the latter.

3. A Lousy Handshake. To me the handshake is one of the most important first impressions you can make. It says something about your character. Your handshake should be firm, yet gentle. Don’t crush the hand of the person you’re greeting.

On the flip side, do not deliver a limp handshake, as this indicates indifference. The sweaty palm handshake is an immediate turnoff. Also annoying is the early grab, where you grab the interviewer’s fingers. The crooks of your hands should nicely fit together.

4. Fidgeting, Crossing Your Arms, Playing with Facial Hair. All of these are signs of body language that imply nervousness. You may not know you’re committing any of these faux pas, but interviewers can see you do them and be distracted.

Fidgeting and playing with your facial hair can easily be corrected by holding a pen or interlocking you fingers and placing them on the table. Crossing your arms can imply defensiveness or aloofness. You may simply feel comfortable talking with your arms crossed, but interviewers may see it as a negative stance.

5. Monotone Voice. The worst thing you want to do is talk in a monotone voice, as it implies indifference or boredom or even pretentiousness. You sound robotic when there’s no inflection or pitch in your voice. You lack enthusiasm.

This is particularly important during a telephone interview when the interviewer can’t see the enthusiasm on your face. So, you need to “show” your excitement through your voice. Occasionally you’ll  want to raise your voice or even lower it to make important points.

6. Not Smiling. This is what job candidates often forget to do during an interview, even people who have killer smiles. We are so intent on delivering the best answers that sometimes we forget to smile. Try to remember to smile, at least occasionally.

Smiling shows interviewers that you are friendly, welcoming, and happy to be in their presence. This is important, because interviewers want to know that you are enthusiastic about working for their company.

7. Poorly dressed. There is much debate as to how job candidates should dress for an interview. The general rule is one or two notches above the company’s dress code. What is the company’s dress code, you may wonder? Following are some suggestions for various occupations.

Sales/Finance/Banking. You’ll want to look formal and contemporary, which may include a grey or black suit for men with a color tie. Woman may want to wear a silk blouse beneath a suite jacket, as well as a skirt.

For education, IT, and public sectors; no suit, but a pressed shirt and nice slacks for men. For women, a skirt or trousers and a silk blouse.

Engineers, construction workers, warehouse workers may go with a simple shirt, maybe a tie for men. Women may wear a button-down shirt and slacks.

In all cases, refrain from heavy perfume and cologne. Women should not wear a lot of bling (jewelry). What’s most important is showing respect for the interviewer. There are no situations when you should wear jeans,  unless you’re specifically told to.


The first impressions you make can be your last ones, so make sure your start of on the right track. Enter the room and shake each persons’ hand, make eye contact, and smile. Show the interviewers that you’re happy to be there.

Next week we’ll look at how to answer the difficult questions.

Photo: Flickr, Flazingo Photos

Nailing the interview process, part 3: research, research, research

You’ve heard it over and over again: you need to do your research before an interview. Why? Because:

  • When you do your research, you’re more prepared.
  • When you’re more prepared, you’ll be more confident.
  • When you’re more confident, you’ll do better.

Research

The last thing you want to do is wing it in an interview. You’ll fail, especially if the interviewer is good at their job.

What, exactly, should you research before your interview? Here are four areas the interview will likely cover:

1. The Position

This should go without saying. Most of the questions an interviewer poses will address the position, so you’d better know your stuff.

The most obvious resource here is the job description. A well-written job description should provide valuable information like the skills and experience required for the position. Descriptions will often list these things in order of priority.

Go to the “Required Experience” section of the job description first. Note the list of skills and experience and the order of priority.

You can take your research on the position further by talking with someone who works in the company to which you’re applying. Ask if there are any additional requirements not listed in the job description. You may uncover key requirements that were not mentioned in the listing.

2. The Company

One of the top pet peeves of interviewers is when candidates do not know much about the company. Interviewers want to know you’ve taken the time to research the company, and they want to know you’re truly interested in working for the organization.

The very least you can do is visit the company website. Most company websites will feature an “About Us” page. Read this first. The site will also likely have a “Products” and/or “Services” page. Read these, too. If the company is global, it may list its locations and the functions each performs.

The problem with company websites, however, is that the content they feature is all marketing content, engineered to paint the organization in the most positive light possible.

You’ll never get the whole truth about a company through its website, unless the company is publicly traded. In this case, the website will have annual reports that will reveal more objective information on financials, shareholder information, etc.

It’s a good idea to reach out to people you know in the company for more information about it, particularly the culture.

3. The Industry and Competition

Top candidates will know about the industry in which the company operates. This is information you can gather from labor market research websites, such as Glassdoor.com, Salary.com, and O*Net OnLine. You can always turn to Google, too.

With sites like these, you can gather information on occupations, salaries, the skills employers are looking for, and available positions in your area. Glassdoor is a particular favorite among job seekers, as it features employees’ reviews of their own employers.

You can also check out SpyFu to learn about how an employer advertises and its intended audience. Social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are also useful as well.

As mentioned earlier, public companies are required to share press releases and annual reports. Read the documents of your potential employer’s competitors. If you can cite your desired company’s competition’s statistics, you will impress the interviewer very much.

Once again, it’s important to reach out to people who work in the company to which you’re applying. They will probably have a good sense of who the relevant competitors are based on the department you’re targeting.

4. The Interviewers

Finally, you’ll want to research the people who will be interviewing you.

If you have the names of said people ahead of time, the best tool is LinkedIn. Even if you don’t know the names of the people who will interview you, you can use the site’s “Companies” feature to find people in various departments.

For example, if you are applying for an accountant position, search the company using the keywords “accountant, manager.” You will see the company’s accountant managers.

Read through their profiles to see what you have in common with them. It could be that you attended the same school, you enjoy the same activities, you volunteered at similar organizations, or something else. During the interview, try to talk about what you learned about the interviewers when given the opportunity.

Not to sound like a broken record, but you really should reach out to someone you might know in the company to ask about the person or people who will be interviewing you. They may be able to give you great information about your interviewer’s likes and dislikes.


Researching the mentioned areas will put you an advantage over the other candidates. to show off your research, mention it explicitly. Begin sentences by saying, “While I was researching the competition, I learned …”.

Remember, when you’re prepared, you’ll do well in the interview.

Check back next week, when I’ll be talking about the importance of practicing for your interview.

This post originally appeared in Recruiter.com
Photo: Flickr, Rahul Panja