Suzy Welch, a CNBC contributor and author of several best-selling business books, suggests that there’s one question that every employer should ask in a job interview to get insight into the applicant: “What did you do to prepare for this interview?”
Lots of people pay attention to Suzy Welch, so it’s entirely possible that this could be the first question you’ll be asked when you get invited to interview for a job (especially since it’s a really good question!).
So in addition to all the other things you need to do to prepare — planning anecdotes about your experience to show how you’re a fit for the job, making sure you have something appropriate to wear, paying attention to your grooming, double-checking the location to ensure that you arrive on time, making copies of your resume and reference list to take with you — you need to be sure you have done sufficient research about the organization and the individuals you will be meeting to answer that question better than anyone else.
What does it take for you to “answer that question better than anyone else”? There are lots of ways you can do that, and you should probably do all of them.
Read the profiles of the organization and as many of its employees as you can find on LinkedIn, with special emphasis on the person who will be interviewing you, the manager responsible for hiring you, and the supervisor you will report to. In some cases, it may just be one person doing all these things, but in other situations, you may be meeting with several individuals, and you need to know everything you can find about all of them.
Research the company’s website carefully, taking time to read through recent announcements, press releases, and reports that are posted there and identifying ways that the information could relate to the position you’re hoping to get.
Do online searches for the name of the company and the individual(s) you will meet to see what others are saying about them, what they have produced or published, and any reviews of their products or services.
See what social media platforms they use, and scan them to see what the hot topics are.
Use all of your research to create a list of questions (or ideas) that you have so that you can demonstrate your understanding of and interest in the company and the position.
If you show up for an interview having done this type of research, you will have a definite advantage over candidates who are less prepared, even if you aren’t asked the specific question that started this post. You don’t need to be asked, just find ways to use the knowledge you’ve gained to help you shine during the interview process.