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How To Research The Employer Before The Interview

How To Research The Employer Before The Interview


By Mark Swartz
Monster Senior Contributing Writer


Important job interview a few days away? Review that finely honed resume of yours. Practice replying to those interview questions. Work on your smile. Tighten up your body language.
 
You’ll make a great impression. But a lot of other potential candidates might too. So how to convince the interviewer that you’re the best of the bunch?
 
Show them you’re the only one who can truly solve their problems. Other applicants may have similar skills and experience. Yet you can be the person who’s uncovered this employer’s actual needs. By tying these back to your own accomplishments and credentials, you make it easy for interviewers to see just how valuable you are.
 
Research is your secret weapon in connecting those dots.
 
The Power Of Uncovering An Employer’s Needs

Salespeople are trained to find out what a customer’s needs are. Questions are asked. Answers are listened to. The salesperson then comes up with a made-to-order pitch that helps the customer say “yes.”

Job seekers are salespeople as well – only they’re also the product being sold. Notice the difference a custom-made pitch based on research makes:

Interview Scenario 1 – In Which A Job Seeker Didn’t Research The Employer’s Needs
 
Interviewer: “So tell me what you know about our company.”
Job Seeker: “Well, I know that you guys are basically a large call center.”
Interviewer: “Anything else?”
Job Seeker: “Hmmm, I know you’re hiring a lot of people right now.”
 
Interview Scenario 2 – In Which A Job Seeker Researched The Employer’s Needs
 
Interviewer: “So tell me what you know about our company.”
Job Seeker: “While learning more about you I found out that you’re one of Canada’s top call center facilities. You have more than 5,000 employees because you recently bought out your major competitor.”
Interviewer: “Very good. Anything else?”
Job Seeker: “Since the merger you’ve been looking for people who can help bridge the two companies’ different operating styles. That’s where I come in. As a Call Center Manager who’s worked in both B2C and B2B environments, I’ll make sure that staff are properly trained to handle the unique challenges of both these customer categories. Would you like to hear more?
 
Research An Employer’s Needs – The Basics

Begin by checking out Company Profiles on Monster.ca. Each Company Profile includes a business description, news, job listings and more.
 
Want more on what the company is saying about itself. Their website is your starting point, of course. Go to each employer’s site and click its “About Us” button. Briefly learn about the company’s history, how they describe themselves, which products and services they offer.
 
Onto “In The News” or “News” (for larger employers this button may read “Investor Relations” or “Media Releases”). It’s where employers show off their latest and greatest updates. Maybe they’ve acquired new accounts. Or launched a new product. Expanded into new territory. Suffered a recent setback and must explain it.
 
If the employer has social media sites, take a few moments to visit them. Do they have a Facebook page like Monster.ca does? Are they tweeting away on Twitter? Posting videos on YouTube? Employers like to announce recent happenings via social media, so news may appear faster than on their website.
 
Pop over to Slideshare.net and see which employers are sharing informative PowerPoint presentations. Read their annual reports to determine how they’re doing (financials are included if they’re a publicly traded company or a not-for-profit).
 
Research An Employer’s Needs – Third-Party Resources
 
All the sources described above are produced by the employer itself, or by its public relations arm. Therefore the information may not tell the entire story.
 
If you want to get an outsider’s point of view, you’ll have to visit external (third-party) sites. Here are some useful Canadian resources:
 
 
Research An Employer’s Needs – The Inside Scoop 
 
Nothing beats going directly to the horse’s mouth for uncovering an employer’s needs. Too bad you don’t have inside sources at every company.
 
What you do have, instead, are your networks of contacts. Family and friends; colleagues and former bosses; professionals like your banker, accountant, lawyer and the like. These people may have connections to those who work (or used to work) in the companies you’re applying to.
 
To expand your contact circle, you could try to be the star of your own network, or get adept at online networking. For the online part, here’s how to find great contacts and add them to your professional network. And now there’s a great way to maintain a professional network on the social networking site your contacts are already using, Facebook. Introducing BeKnown by Monster.ca.
 
Employers Hire Problem Solvers
 
Use the information you come across in your research to your benefit, during job interviews and beforehand, such as when writing your cover letters. If you discover that an employer is scaling back, point out how you’ve cut costs or worked with threadbare budgets. Should they be expanding, demonstrate how you’ve thrived in a growth environment.
 
Threats (pain points) and opportunities facing a potential employer are what you’re hoping to identify. These are where the needs of an employer lie. Prove that your related accomplishments and credentials make you the required problem solver. The interviewer(s) may have no choice but to say “yes” to your candidacy.
 

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