[Noozhawk's note: Second in a series. Click here for a related article.]
I have produced events worldwide, and in that process with every new client, research was a vital element to both winning and sustaining my customers. In teaching students and other adults successful interviewing techniques, research is just as critical.
So, today, let’s start with the crucial element of researching the company or school that you’d like to join. AKA, homework!
The first step is to find three new facts about the company. What kind of facts, you say? Well, let’s dream that you are applying to Harvard Business School and have secured the interview. Here are three things you should know about Harvard before you apply:
» Harvard is a green school.
» Harvard students performed more than 900,000 hours of community service in just a year.
» Throughout its history, Harvard Business School has been a leader in developing practice-oriented research for management education.
So, what do you do with those facts? Glad you asked. In the interview, make conversations with the facts you’ve found in your research. Go in knowing that you are going to include that information into the conversation.
For instance, maybe you’ve done a great deal of community service. If so, make a comment like, “I was really glad to see that Harvard students perform more than 900,000 hours of community service in just a year! I’ve been actively involved in my Santa Barbara community working with the homeless and Meals on Wheels. I’ll be glad to continue my work to help others.”
The next step is to look up and understand the organization’s mission statement and figure out why it’s important. What do you mean “What’s a mission statement?” It defines in a paragraph or so any organization’s reason for existence. It embodies its philosophies, goals, ambitions and mores.
Let’s take McDonald’s as an example. McDonald’s mission statement is that it strives to be the best quick service experience. To be the best, employees will give outstanding quality, service, cleanliness and value. This should make every customer smile.
This speaks volumes for any job candidate at McDonald’s. Why? It tells you to smile, make sure you are clean and neatly groomed. To show that you can give quick service, you’ll need to walk with a fast pace into the interview. No daisy dogging along the way!
At the end of the interview, ask three questions. Why? It shows your complete interest in the organization. A friend of mine told me recently that she was one of two candidates for a position, and when she was asked if she had any questions at the end of the interview, she said, “no.” The other candidate got the job, she discovered later from friends in the company, because that candidate asked three questions about the position and the company. Live and learn!
So ask a question that is relevant to the job position. Never EVER ask salary-related questions, benefits or vacation policy! Get the job first! Ask about something that could be public knowledge in which the company is participating, such as sponsoring an event. Ask the hiring interviewer how long he or she has been with the company and what his or her impressions about the company have been. Most people like to hear themselves talk, especially about themselves! Make sure to ask WHY and HOW questions. Make sure the answer is not just YES or NO. In other words, engage the person. He or she will think you are brilliant if you ask questions and then listen!
Great Video Information on Researching for Interviews
(CareerBuilder video)(CareerBuilder video)(majorplayers1 video) 5 Keys to Successful Interview Research
» Find three new facts about the organization with which you will be interviewing.
» Make conversation with the three facts you’ve learned in your research.
» Understand the organization’s mission statement.
» Use the mission statement to guide you on your approach to the organization.
» Always ask three questions at the end of the interview.
Action Item: Pick a company or college that interests you and use the above techniques to research it.
Next week we’ll talk about how communication technology can sabotage a job search.
— John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for job search success. Click here to learn more about The Key Class or get information on Thursday night classes in Santa Barbara.