When you go in for a job interview, you're not just a candidate seeking a job. You're a potential problem solver and contributor. To play that role effectively, you must be armed with right kind of information. That's what pre-interview research is all about.
Break down your research efforts into four broad areas. That'll make it easier to manage and also ensure you don't leave anything out.
#1: Get insights into organization
This is best place to start your research.
Obviously you should find out about organization's products and services, markets it serves and how long they have been in existence. Plus, you need to know their organization structure, who top management is, recent trends in growth, profitability and how their stock is performing.
However, to differentiate yourself, you must go beyond these basic facts.
Find out a bit about organization culture. Learn about what they look for in employees. What areas are they expanding into in near future?
What are key challenges facing company? Are these same challenges facing industry as a whole? What unique difficulties do they face?
What do people working there think about organization? Is there high staff turnover, especially within senior management? What do competitors think of company?
Based on this information, try to think of what could be done to solve some of their problems. What innovations could help them? What contributions could they value?
#2: Find out about job
In many cases, you'll have to wait for interview to get all job details. However, you need to do some digging beforehand.
Who will you be reporting to? What is his / her background and reputation?
Find out about general responsibilities in job. What are you expected to deliver on a daily basis? What results do you need to achieve every quarter, every year?
Where does your department fit in within hierarchy? Who held this job before? Why did he leave? How many people have held this job over past five years? Who are people you'll be supervising?
What are biggest obstacles to performing this job well? What kind of person do they want for this position? What personal qualities are they looking for?
You will need to tap into your network to find answers. Look for leads into target organization and try to get introductions to people working there. The company's clients, vendors and bankers are also good sources of information.