GETTING HIRED – PREPARE YOUR RESEARCH
The more you know about the company and position that you are applying for, the greater your ability to impact the outcome of an interview in a positive way. Going into an interview “cold” is a mistake. You should be well versed about the company, its management, the industry, the competition, the products, pricing, channels of distribution, marketplace advantages, customer service and a whole host of meaningful intelligence. Do your research and you will excite management with your in-depth knowledge and understanding of their business.
Your objective is to know as much or more about the issues of the industry than those with whom you are interviewing. That ‘s usually not hard. Why? Because most people you’ll be talking to are oriented within their own functions and not well versed in the broader issues of the industry, competitors or competitive issues.
So, where should you be looking? Here are a few ideas, though not exhaustive. Every industry or sector has a number of niches that can be explored.
RESEARCH – AREAS OF CONCENTRATION
Management– Who are the key executives and what are their areas of expertise? Who is in the direct line of organizational reporting for your functional area? (Who, from where, for how long, what experiences?). You’re looking for insight into management’s background and experience. Where did they come from? Have they been internal for the past 25 years or did they come from outside the company within the past 6 months? Has there been a change of emphasis in the company’s strategic direction? Has there been an expansion or contraction of business over the past 18 months? Has there been a reorganization? What experiences in other industries?
Annual reports – Core financial and other information. Who is on the board? Why? What is the major theme of the last annual report? New products? Financial statements and plans? What do the numbers tell you? Employee issues or concerns? Union or non-union? Are there any issues that you need to be aware? What do they say about themselves? How does it compare to what analysts or objective third-parties say?
Analysts reports, Standard & Poors, etc… What does “the street” have to say? Prospects for the future? If it’s traded, where have the stock shares been over 5 years? Upturn or downturn? What are their recommendations? Are the industry analysts in unison or divided? What are the disparities? What are the projections for the future? Is your role important to that future?
The industry – Periodicals, articles, interviews. Where does the company stand within the industries they are in? Are they in the top or bottom tier? Where had they been? Is the industry itself old and tired or energized? Coal mining or iPod? Is the industry being flooded with foreign knock-offs? Does the company have proprietary products or are they a commodity? Where would you fit in? Do you complement the industry direction or run counter to it?
Competition – Who does what better? Who is ahead or behind? What are the key differences between the top five competitors? Who produces the greatest number of new products/services consistently? Who has the better marketing reach? Is there a “silver bullet? Any mergers?
Talk to employees or past employees (be careful of bias) – What do they have to say about the company and how it’s run? If they could go to another organization, would they go? Why? Is there a philosophy of promotion from within? Are they consistent in the application of policies? How would they rate the “politics” within the company? What do they say about your function?
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