Have an interview coming up soon? Not too sure how to prepare?
Don’t worry we have all been there! Here’s one tip I’d like to share with you, to help prepare you for an interview.
So, this magical tip is simple! Its researching the company and people you are meeting with.
Now, I’m not talking about how many employees they have, who is on the board of Directors or even knowing all of their locations. These are just numbers and I believe they are not the most vital. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t know the general size of the company or who the main founding member is, as it’s always good to have a general idea. I’m talking about really knowing the company. This not only helps you for an interview but can help you decide if the company is where you see yourself for the next few years!
So what information should you focus on?
1)You should do research on what the company’s mission / Vision is.
- Knowing the mission and aim of the company you are interviewing with, gives you a greater context of who they are. You can have two organisations in the banking industry, but they may have completely different ideas of what they are aiming to do, within baking. This will go hand in hand with knowing their differentiating factors. (i.e. Servicing average income people vs high income people)
2)You should know what makes them special and stand out.
- You need to do research on what they do differently compared to their competition (what makes them special) and, who is their competition? (Obviously!) Is it a specific target market, an exclusive product that they offer, or do they differentiate themselves through their culture and structure of work? Again, one bank may be a boutique bank that offers services to high nett worth individuals (Rich people with many zero’s in the bank account) while another, offers services to the average Joe / Jane. Both in banking but they have a completely different target market and characteristics that make them unique.
3)You should get as much information on the company’s culture and values.
- Are they a very structured and corporate environment? Or maybe they are more relaxed and have fun days, dress up days and teambuilding activities? Maybe they fall somewhere in the middle and have a good mix of structure and fun? How do they value their employees? Are they known for giving large bonuses or shares or, do they focus on recognition, training and autonomy? (i.e. employee empowerment and engagement)
So what’s in it for you?
1)Vision / Mission:
- It can help you understand the vacancy in a much broader context, how it fits into the company, and the next possible steps up the ladder!
- By knowing their Vision / Mission you are identifying where the company is going and if it’s something you want to be a part of.
- It will help you tailor questions and answers for the specific role. Answer a question geared towards displaying how the skills you have, can work in their environment. Demonstrate how your skills are relevant to what they need and how it can help them reach their ultimate goal.
- The person interviewing you will want to see that you understand their business and what their ultimate goal is. They want to see that you have done your homework and that you are on board with that vision. By doing your homework the interviewer can see your efforts, which can earn you some brownie points! (Score!)
- The Employer wants to know that you understand how their business may differ to a competitor. They want to see that you know the specific product or activity they are involved in, that differentiates themselves.
- It enables you to illustrate that you have a deeper understanding of how their business does things differently. If you are interested and mention a specific initiative that they are a part of, that can only add brownie points to your plate! (More Cookies please!)
3)Culture / Values:
- This may a bit trickier to determine but any information or trends you gather, helps you identify if this is a fit for your personality. Are you more relaxed or structured? Do you prefer to meet clients or stay in the background, keeping your head down? If you find information that is contrary to what you are comfortable with it will help you decide if you will thrive or not.
- Knowing how they do things or structure their teams allows you to determine room for advancement and growth.
- It gives you an insight into the people you are meeting. If they are more corporate, your interview style will need to reflect that. If they are more relaxed then you will need to adjust accordingly.
- JUST A NOTE: Culture is always really hard to figure out and sometimes it may require meeting and seeing the workplace before you can get a better idea. Also, if the environment is more relaxed, it by no means justifies you rocking up for the interview in a T-Shirt and slops! ALWAYS DRESS TO IMPRESS – NO EXCEPTIONS!
Knowing the company gives you a valuable insight into the business and people working there. You can use all the information to tailor your answers to show how can add value. By having done your homework you can also show you came prepared (always a winner), you understand their business and just the fact that you took the time to get to know them. That alone will impress them and give them an insight into your work ethics!
Now, you are probably wondering how knowing the specific people you are meeting with, is going to help you? Like the above, knowing who you meet with will help you tailor your answers in a specific way. You are most likely to meet people that fall into two groups. Technical to non-technical.
- These people are the ones who are most likely going to manage the team you are in OR they are the specialists (aka the “guru’s”) of the team. They are the ones you report in to and would leverage off in your new role. Once upon a time these individuals were in a role very similar to the one you are about to fill. What makes them technical is that they know exactly what goes into your job every day.
- For example: If you are a business analyst, they know you will be using UML and Visio for presentations, write technical and functional specifications, analyse and extract data to determine trends, hold JAD sessions every two weeks, implement and train users, etc. They know how you will go about doing all of these things in depth and to a very technical degree.
- They are the people that will want very technical answers from you. They want to see that you actually know what UML/Visio/SQL/Oracle actually is and how they integrate into what the role entails. They want the nitty gritty to make sure you are capable of doing the job.
What to do:
- Show your skills in depth and make sure you explain in a technical, yet detailed and clear manner, what it means to do what you do.
- Use real projects you have worked on, give technical examples and break it down. Illustrate what technologies you have worked with, how you have used them and exactly how you were involved.
- This is usually someone from HR or another key stakeholder with whom you may liaise with day to day. This person is most likely not very technical and in most cases (not all) does not know the in-depth details of what goes into what you do.
- Using the same example above, they may only know the keywords UML/Vision/SQL/JAD, etc. but they may not necessarily know the finer details. They may not understand what it actually means to write a technical or functional specification or how you gather and analyse data.
- They are the ones more likely to ask personality / behavioural type questions to get a feel as to whether you would be a fit in their environment. Rest assured they will ask you what you do on a day to day basis as well.
- PS – don’t underestimate HR! Some HR individuals understand the technical aspect of the job just as much as the technical peeps!
What to do:
- Make sure you explain what you do in layman’s terms. I am not saying dumb down your answers and sound condescending, but just break it down one step further and give an example that makes sense.
- Example: As a BA explaining how you work with data possibly try something along the lines of: “I extract data from various sources and databases where it is stored and I then analyse the data. This data includes the specific demographics (ethnicity, age, gender, location, etc.) of a target market from surveys completed by users of one of the major banking products. I then take this data and identify any trends and risks that relate to the product. The data is then translated into a report which can then be presented to management.” See, simple and clear.
Now you find yourself in an interview with some technical and non-technical people. Don’t panic yet, it’s not that bad! All you need to do is have a mix of the two, make sure you are technical enough but don’t make it so technical that other members can’t follow. Stick to structured projects and examples when you explain anything.
Where can you get all this information from?
- Glassdoor – Gives reviews from employees on anything from salaries, reviews to Interview questions
- Social media – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, etc. (These can help you determine the culture of a company and personality of the people you meet with)
- LinkedIn – (Great way to understand how technical someone is or isn’t. Also great for information on a company)
So there you have it, my one TOP TIP to help you ACE your interview!