It’s time to take control of your life, so you can create happiness and success. One of the biggest parts of your life is your career, and that’s a great place to start as you move toward a better life. After applying to job after job, you’ll likely land an interview or two, and when that happens, you have to be prepared. The following are some of the things you need to find out before your interview:

#1: The Company’s History

Don’t think the interviewer won’t test you on how much you know about the company. This is a critical interview component because your interviewer is looking at how interested you really are in working for the company. When they know you looked up the company online and read about it, they’re more likely to feel as though you want to be part of its culture. If you don’t know anything about the company, it makes it much more difficult to convince the interviewer you want to work there.

#2: The Details of the Job

While you may not have access to the job description, you may be able to look over the ad to get the gist of what your duties will include. If you can do that, start to think of times when you performed those same tasks in previous jobs. Keep those examples fresh in your mind because many interviewers love to ask the question, “Can you tell me about a time when…?”

#3: Who Your References Are Going to Be

If you haven’t provided references on the application, you may be asked for them when you come into the interview. Check with each of the references you are going to use to make sure you’re able to use them. This will also give those people a head’s up, so they can be ready to tell people how great you are at what you know and do.

#4: What You Can Add to the Team

Through your research, you will likely find pockets of procedures or processes that are missing. While you do not want to criticize the way the company does business, you can offer some ideas on what you’ve found. This shows initiative and will really impress your interviewer.

#5: How Employees Dress at Work

You want to show the interviewer that you will fall right into place if you’re hired. Do this by mimicking what employees wear to work. If it’s business casual, choose an outfit that falls right in line with that. If it’s casual, dress nicely but not too casual. Jeans and t-shirt may be what everyone is wearing, but you still want to make a good first impression. Opt for a less formal suit with a casual blouse, and consider losing the blazer. That way you are still casual, but it’s not like you’ve been just lounging around all day.

#6: Learn About the Products and Services

You’ll look like a smarty if you already know the details of the products and services they offer. You will blow them away when you can rattle off specs and other information that longtime employees know. This may take a bit more research, but it will be worth it.

#7: News About the Company

Go on a news search online before you head out to the interview. If you know what is going on with the company, you might be able to identify with the interviewer — and you may even have a nice conversation about it. Just keep it neutral though. Keep strong opinions to yourself because if they are not in line with what the interviewer believes, you may end up ruining your chances of getting hired.

#8: Find Out Who the Execs of the Company Are

A little name dropping never hurt anyone. Mentioning the executives of the company will show the interviewer you’re ready to get to know them to help meet the goals of the organization.

#9: Know the Culture

Each organization has a culture they form. Knowing what that culture is can help you convince the interviewer you can fit right into it. According to a Millennial Branding study, 43 percent of HR professionals believe the ability to fit into the company culture is the most important quality to look for when hiring.

#10: Come Up with Questions

When the interviewer asks you if you have any questions, it looks better if you have some ready to go. Just be careful that they haven’t been answered yet, or the interviewer will think you weren’t paying attention. Come up with as many as possible, so you have at least two to ask by the end of the interview.

#11: How to Answer Questions Using the STAR Method

The STAR method is answering questions by explaining a situation, the task you had to complete, the action you took and the results you received. By answering questions this way, you will better be able to show that you have the ability to control a situation by coming up with a plan and implementing it — and then also successfully completing the task.

Want to know my secret trick? Adding an extra ‘R’ on the end: Reflection. Add on a couple sentences about what you learned, what you would do differently, and how you can apply it to the job. Your interviewers will be impressed with your ability to think critically and learn from successes – or failures.

#12: Find out What Makes the Company Unique

Take some time to research the company’s competitors. Find out how they are different. There may be a time during the interview in which you can bring up those differences, and that will say a lot about how much you really want to work for the company you’re interviewing with.

#13: Know Who Is Interviewing You

If you know who is going to interview you, search for the person online. With LinkedIn, you can find out a lot about the person. When you head in for the interview, you may want to point out a similarity you have with the person. This usually can break the ice easily and quickly.

When you bring up the similarity, though, don’t make it seem like you stalked him. Bring up that you were looking at the company on LinkedIn, and then you saw his profile connected to the page. He will likely feel much more comfortable with that rather than thinking you purposely looked for him.

#14: Where the Company Is Located

This is the most obvious thing you need to find out, but it’s worth mentioning. Make sure you have the address and do a test drive to it before the day of the interview. You should allot enough time for traffic or any problems on the way, so you will make it on time.

If you get to the interview early, wait outside in your car until you have about five minutes remaining. Being a couple of minutes early is perfect. It shows you are punctual.

Get Started on Your Research

You have a lot to research now, so get started. Once you do the research and an interview a couple of times, however, you’ll find that it gets much easier. Just watch the faces of the interviewers when you are able to talk about the company as if you’ve worked there for a decade. You may just get several job offerings, and then you’ll have choose one! That’s not a bad problem to have.


What would you add for #15? Share your thoughts, and research tips, in the comments!

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

2 Comments on 14 Things You *Must* Find Out Before Your Interview

  1. Micheal
    September 17, 2015 at 7:59 am (6 years ago)

    Great tips everyone must follow before attending any interview. One of the major challenge is the our research is limited sometimes to only the company’s website. Rather than visiting the company’s site only, try and read related news about the company and industry. If possible, seek reviews from people.

    • Sarah Landrum
      September 17, 2015 at 11:57 am (6 years ago)

      Thanks so much, Michael! Social media is always a helpful research tool as well!


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