It seems sort of obvious, but it’s INCREDIBLY important to research the company you’re interested in working for. I don’t just mean visit their website and read their profile, I mean treat researching like a game, you vs. the interviewer. The best offense is a good defense, and an interview should be an offensive affair on your end. Not only should you be prepared for every question you might be asked, but you should also have prepared questions of your own to ask of your interviewer. Whether these relate to the company itself, your role within the company, your job’s potential for growth, a typical work day: whatever it might be that you’re genuinely interested in knowing, use the interview as an opportunity to decide if the company is a good fit for YOU. Getting a job is like getting into a relationship- both parties should be assured of their mutual compatibility, so do your homework!
The other important benefit of researching a company is that in the course of your research you might uncover an important “in” to the job you want. Whether it’s a direct email or phone number to a hiring manager or contact, or discovering a networking connection you already possess, researching every avenue never hurts. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, company official website, company blog, intern blog, client profiles- do it ALL. You won’t regret it!
In other interview related news, today I had another group interview, this one with a totally different dynamic than the first. This was a second round interview, so obviously they had culled potential candidates, and the conversation really reflected that they had chosen people with a certain commonality. With a group of three link-minded individuals, myself and two men, the interview was much less static question-and-answer, and much more intelligent conversation. Topics flowed from art and design to ethics and public relations easily, and I felt a sort of comraderie with my fellow interviewees.
In a situation like this I think the “showing-off” of first round interviews is less important, since candidates have already been evaluated for the most important qualities. Just be your best self, stay positive, and let the cards fall where they may. One tip I have to offer is not to lose track of the fact that you are trying to secure a job. While an interview like this might seem more relaxed and fun, you’re still on the line for a job offer, so remember that!