Do Your Interview Research

by Rachel Vilsack

Recently, a friend of mine had a job interview. She prepared for the interview, confidently reviewed and practiced answers to some common interview questions, and knew the different types of interviews styles that she might encounter. Finally, she did something that would make her as a candidate stand out – she spent time researching the company and the people with whom she would be interviewing.


Really? Research the People Interviewing You?

Yes, if possible. Do an internet search with the interviewer’s name. Maybe your interviewer maintains their own web site or blog, maybe the person was recognized with an award, or has a professional biography available. You might also try social networking sites like LinkedIn or Twitter. Work this research – and knowledge about the interviewer – into your answers to interview questions.


And don’t worry if it seems like you’re spying or otherwise interfering with someone. You are not. If the information is on the Internet, use it to your advantage. I’ve been a part of a team interviewing candidates. I assure you that someone who displays knowledge of an article I’d authored or mentions that they’d visited my blog is a candidate who stands out. It shows they did their research.


Of course, use common sense. A job interview might not be the time to mention that you share a common interest, like your taste in music or movies. But it might be, if that relates to the job you’re interviewing for! Instead, you might discover a common professional passion and vision, which is absolutely relevant in the interview process.


Do You Have any Questions?

Earlier this week, we spotlighted some common questions (link to blog) that you should be prepared to answer during the interview. One of the questions that you can almost guarantee an interviewer will ask you is “do you have any questions for me?”


Your answer should be “yes.”


Your questions might be more pointed to the job itself, like:

  • How do you measure success in this job?
  • What is the performance evaluation process for this position?
  • Could you tell me more about the person who will supervise this job or who I will report to?


Questions about the company might be important to ask, too, and that is where researching the company can pay off. Don’t know where to start? Try these resources:

  • Visit the company web site. You can learn a lot of important information about a company on their web site.
  • Search the online archives of your local newspaper or regional business journal. Is there recent company news or information that you could ask about during the interview? Try the ProQuest Newsstand Complete or Regional Business News databases available through the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM).
  • Search Business Source Premier . This database (available on ELM) provides company histories, marketing reports, and financial information about companies.
  • Review your network. Do you know anyone who works at the company you’ll be interviewing with? Ask them for information about the employer, like what they like about working for the company.


We want to learn from you! How do you prepare for a job interview?


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