Interview Prep: Researching and Understanding Job Descriptions

Career Advice
5
minute read

So, you’ve finally landed yourself an interview. Congrats! Going in for a job interview can be exciting, but equally as terrifying. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by the process. We’ll walk you through it with some helpful tips and tricks to help you own that interview.

This is the first part of a three part blog series.


Do Your Research

Before you go in for your interview, think of yourself as a detective or an investigative journalist. You want to uncover all the information you can on the company you want to work for. Take time to do some due diligence. What you learn will play into your favor during the interview, when you will demonstrate your interest in the company. It is also likely you’ll be asked why you want the job. If you know the company inside and out, you’ll know exactly how to use your skills for their benefit. Emphasize your skills and why you think they’ll be a great fit.

Doing research will also boost your confidence. When you’re prepared, it’s less likely you’ll get tripped up during the sit-down. It’s also helpful in the fashion department. If you understand the company culture, you’ll know the appropriate attire to wear for your interview and eliminate the chance of dressing too casual or too formal.

Finally, do a little sleuthing and try to find out some information about whoever is conducting the interview. Keep it professional. But you might find out things you share in common, like being alumni from the same school. It’s always a good idea to make positive connections with coworkers, recruiters, and your interviewers.

Okay, so now you know why research is important. But where do you start? There are lots of different ways to learn about different companies.

 

Web

 

First, visit their website! This is the easiest way to begin your research. Most companies will have information regarding their history, mission, leadership, accomplishments, and info on their products and services.

Be sure to read their mission statement or value proposition to get a good understanding of their culture, goals, and how they define success. Learn who their customers are as well!

Finally, take a look at their recent press releases, which should be on their website’s news page. If they aren’t, a quick Google search will find them. Be sure to read the latest ones. These will help you get in touch with new products, leaders, acquisitions, partnerships, and other info that you can ask about during your interview.

 

Social Media

 

Everyone has social media these days. So, once you’ve checked out the company’s web presence, head over to their social accounts. This is where you’ll really be able to get a sense of the company culture. Goon YouTube and look up the company. You’re bound to find details about company leaders, their products, and services.

Now that you have a good understanding of the company, its culture, products, services, and leadership, it’s time to identify its main competitors. Understanding the differentiating factors of a rival business could help you identify potential problems that YOU could provide solutions to— and employers will love that.

 

Know Your Role

 

It's crucial that you know what you’re signing up for. Make sure to have a complete understanding of the job description that you’re applying for. Yes, it’s pretty obvious why that would be important, but there are a few ways you can apply that knowledge to help you in the interview process.

A good job description will tell you what skills an employer is looking for. During your interview, they will make sure that you possess these skills. They will also want to know how you developed them and what you’ve accomplished with them. Know the skills required, and you’ll be more than prepared to discuss them with solid examples of your success during your interview.

Showing an employer that you understand the job and possess the skills required is also an excellent way to build rapport. No one likes awkward silences; use your skills to make a connection and keep the conversation going. Planning your interview around the job description will give you talking points for any and all skill-related questions they’ll throw at you. If you can, include clear, specific stories that demonstrate how and why you possess your skill set. Good stories will make you memorable.

When looking over a job description, don’t turn away because you don’t meet all the criteria. This is the employer's“ unicorn employee.” This is their idea of a perfect candidate—and we all known nobody’s perfect. Everyone has mastered a certain set of skills, but not all of them. Get comfortable talking about the ones you haven’t mastered. These are your “weak points.” Your interviewer won’t look down on you for having them; just be sure to tell them how you plan on improving. Provide examples such as online training programs or job shadows.

 

Helpful Tips and Tricks

 

When reading a job description, keep these tips and tricks in mind:

  1. Look beyond the job title.

Play detective! Ensure the title and job description match the responsibilities. Does an entry-level position have excessive responsibilities or managerial requirements?

  1. Determine how close a match your skill set is to what is listed.

Take a skills assessment! Check out our previous blog post about highlighting the skills you possess and the ones you can improve on.

  1. Look for hidden questions or red flags.

Any sort of insufficient details or a lack of clarity should stand out to you. A proper job description shouldn’t leave you in the dark.

  1. Google any words, systems, or software you     are not familiar with so you can speak confidently about them.

 

Summing it All Up

Take these steps into account before your interview. A great job interview takes some pre-planning, so if you do the research beforehand and understand the job description, you’re taking proactive moves toward success.

If you know before you go, chances are your interview will run smoothly. Stay tuned for the next part of our interview prep series. We’ve got more tips and tricks to help you nail that interview!

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