Three Key Steps to Prepare for a Job Interview

In these tough economic times, jobs and job interviews can be difficult to find. Once an interview comes along, it is important to be ready. Here are three key steps.

Applicants often apply for any job that sounds remotely interesting, and when they are contacted to come in for an interview, they realize they don’t know much about the hiring company.

Research the Company

Now is the time to start understanding more about the company. Go to the company’s website and look over it carefully. Consider not just what is said, but how it’s said. Is the tone formal or casual? Is the layout traditional or contemporary? These are clues into the culture of the company.

Be sure to understand the nature of the company’s business. Is it a parent company? Headquarters? What is the main focus of its business? If the interview is to work in a job in a different division, be sure to look that up.

Next, find out about the top guns in the company. Often the websites will include a message from the CEO. What message does he or she emphasize? Then look at the other top executives, paying particular attention to the head of the department the interview is for.

The website is the company’s version of who they are. Now, do an Internet search through Google or Yahoo to find out what issues the company has faced that have made the news. Get a sense of the industry overall – are there particular challenges that face it?

The last step is to try to get an insider’s view of the company. Knowing someone who works with the company is a great way to get the scoop. Using a business networking site like LinkedIn can help identify people who work there. It may be possible to find someone you know who works there who would be willing to answer some pre-interview questions. At the very least, it may be possible to get background information on the interviewers, which could provide a useful icebreaker.

Understand the Job and its Requirements

Once familiar with the company, the next step is to have a fairly good understanding of the job. Naturally, responsibilities will vary from company to company, but requirements and challenges for jobs classes are often similar.

Teachers, for example, will need specific certification. There may be a shortage or surplus of teachers, and ones specializing in a particular field (i.e. high school math) may be particularly in demand. Look up job descriptions for similar jobs, either in a local newspaper or a job search service like Monster.com in order to understand the general needs.

Know Your Resume

Many people know what is written on their resumes, but spend too little time thinking about how that education or experience relates to the job at hand. For each event on a resume, it is a good idea to succinctly explain the purpose of the job, the particular role and most importantly, the impact the applicant had on that job. The more specific examples that show how problems were solved, how money was saved or earned for the company or how customers were retained or increased, the better. Check out this.

Even more importantly, tailor these examples to the needs of the prospective job. If for example, an administrative assistant were applying for a job in a fast-paced environment, she would highlight her previous experience working for multiple bosses, and describe specific examples of how she managed conflicting deadlines.

Taking that extra time to analyze the prospective company, job along with individual skills and experiences gives applicants a significant advantage in a competitive job market.