Career Hack: How to Use Research During a Job Interview

If you are preparing for an interview, be prepared to hear “Make sure you research the company”. I make the recommendation ad nauseam to clients and friends.

On a few occasions, however, my advice has been met with a bewildered look and a few obvious questions. Why should I research the company? What am I looking for? What information is most important for me to know going into an interview? How can I use the research during the interview?

Understanding what a company does is key to successful interviewing. It is such an obvious reason to research a company that I won’t say much more about it.

Spending some time on a company’s website can help you dig deeper and understand what an organization stands for. Are corporate values posted on the website? What is its mission and vision for the future of the organization? Do they have a public diversity statement?

How is this helpful to you when preparing for an interview?

Understanding how the role you are applying for fits into the direction of the company is essential. You can tailor some of your responses to highlight experience that speaks to that direction and the work that will be necessary to accomplish those goals.

This is also time for you to prepare for the inevitable interview question, “Do you have any questions for us?”

Asking about how your role contributes to the strategic goals referenced on the website demonstrates that you are interested in a long-term engagement with the company.

Most importantly, researching the company at this level also serves an opportunity for you to vet the organization. Do the corporate values align with your purpose and the impact you want to make in this world? If you don’t have a clearly defined purpose, I encourage you to spend some time teasing that out.

What else should I look for?

Company reviews

In addition to scouring the company’s website, Google the company and read employee reviews. This is once again, me, encouraging you to recognize your power in this process. Interviews are an opportunity to decide if this is the right place to spend at least eight hours a day.

Reading employee reviews can provide some insight into the culture of an organization? Red flags are subjective because we all thrive in different environments but hearing from employees digitally could prompt you to ask to meet with a few employees before you accept an offer. Yes, you can do that!

Company reviews can be easily found on a host of sites including Glassdoor and LinkedIn.

Meet your interviewers

Why walk into an interview blind? When the meeting is scheduled, ask who you will be interviewing with and get to know them by checking out their profiles on LinkedIn.

It is not creepy, it is practical!

Knowing how long they have been with the company and what work they did prior to becoming decider of your fate will help you better communicate during the interview.

It also never hurts to know what the people look like before you walk into the room. I find it comforting and it helps me relax a bit.

Prepare for questions

When people say, “Everything is on the internet”, they mean it. Many companies have a preferred interview style (behavioral vs performance; panel vs individual). Sometimes this information is on the company’s website along with tips for preparing for an interview.

No really, make sure you review the human resources page for any tips and prep materials the company provides. 

Googling the company or specific interviewer can also show results about interview styles and go to questions that they like to ask. I definitely have a few “favorite” interview questions that I ask candidates.

Has researching a company prior to an interview helped you land a job?

Simple Resolutions for Managers

New Year Be Awesome

It’s inevitable. The Monday after a holiday break and the struggle begins. You’re faced with all the professional challenges you tried to forget, or at least drown in a variety of feasts, parties, and slothfulness.

On top of returning to work, you are trying to focus on sticking to all of the personal resolutions you made for yourself. Between fitness and weight loss resolutions, living life to the fullest, and developing an artificial intelligence system that can control your home (these are seriously some of the top resolutions of 2016 according to Twitter and Google), you have little or no time to make resolutions specific to your role as a manager.

That’s where I can help.

Here are some fairly simple, easy to implement ideas for 2016. The best part is that these are not activities you simply resolve to do, they actually can be done.

1. Meet with your team to discuss goals they have set for themselves. If they have none, help them set a few. This method demonstrates an investment in the individual and can help to make future performance discussions slightly less tense. It is a great opportunity to set your staff on the path to achieving individual and team performance goals.

2. Commit to having a different team member lead staff meetings in the New Year. Let them develop the agenda and facilitate the meeting. This takes some of the pressure off you and shows that leadership isn’t entirely “top down”.

3. Launch a simple 360 Assessment for yourself. This one can be tricky because soliciting feedback means you have to be ready to accept it. If you develop your own questionnaire, however, you can focus on specific areas you want to assess or improve. This process shows a commitment to your personal development and allows your staff an opportunity to be heard.

Let the New Year serve as a chance to assess and set the course for who you want to be in the workplace. Are you a manager, coach, or leader? Make 2016 the year you decide to be all three!

Don't Lie on Your Resume, Duh!

LyingI continue to be gobsmacked that people need to be reminded not to lie on their resumes.

I could go through each of the ten lies mentioned in the article but it all seems so obvious that I will simply say “Do not lie on your resume”. If damaging your reputation and demonstrating a lack of integrity are not valid enough reasons, try this: you will get caught!

We live in an age where everything is “Googleable”. In many ways, we are all public people and have an online profile that we hopefully control. Information about where you went to school, where you worked, and for how long is so easy to obtain it is unreal.

My advice, use your time to build important skills and experience instead of crafting elaborate lies.

Infusing your career search with holiday cheer!

image-holiday-cheer

Whether you are preparing for, enjoying, or recovering from the holidays, it is safe to say that your career goals will not be top of the mind for the next few weeks. Believe it or not, it is fairly simple to leverage the holidays to help with your career progression.

Tip 1 Spread Some Holiday Cheer

Use the season as an opportunity to reconnect with members of your network. Extend a holiday greeting via social media or email. If you are really ambitious, send actual holiday cards. Don’t worry, you are still within the allowable time frame to send cards without breaking any rules of etiquette.

Whether you send a greeting digitally or via snail mail, include a quick note about what you are looking forward to or will be working on in the new year. Your message will seem timely instead of calculated.

 

What November 9, 2016 Taught Me about Change

what-next It has been about a week since last week’s election and I like everyone in this world am processing this change in guard. Without taking a side, this election reinforced some obvious truths about change and got me thinking about how to actually survive both big and small changes related to the workforce.

Throughout my career, I’ve walked on a pretty fertile ground for cultural, organizational and workplace change. I was working as a  career counselor right after 9/11 and while my primary clientele had been young, African American and Latino adults, entering the workforce, I was now seeing an influx of middle-aged, rural, white job seekers who had built careers manufacturing airplane parts.

Many of the options and services that I offered naturally aligned with the needs of my original clients but explaining to a 40-year-old male that enrolling in GED classes was his best option and that the $60,000 per year salary that he was making in the factory was not coming back was much more difficult.

Obvious Takeaway: Change is not easy to process. I know, not shocking. Whether it be an organizational transition, modifications in our personal lives or a simple change to the aisle our favorite product can be found at the grocery store, I have yet to react or see others react to shifts in a calm way (at least initially).  The worst case scenario seems to be the easiest place to land. While chaos theory is fitting when thinking about some changes, it is not in every situation.

How do we keep from letting an imminent change prevent us from moving forward?

  1. Look for the opportunity. Please do not misunderstand this recommendation. I am not talking about silver linings nor am I channeling my inner Pollyanna. Opportunities available in the midst of a transition do not fall into your lap. In many cases, you have to actively seek them out or cultivate situations that will benefit you. Step away from the change, take the potential personal impact out of it (which is probably the piece that is giving you the most angst), and develop a plan.
  2. Develop your own plan. The person, organization, or entity driving the change has developed a strategy and in most cases, it was not developed with your best interest in mind. Your job is to have your own course of action, designed with your goals and needs at the forefront. If you don’t have a plan, make one. If you do have a plan, continue to work it. You may have to tweak it in the face of change but you should not let someone else’s change derail you.

Change happens but it doesn’t have to happen to us.  The most important element in not only surviving but thriving during a period of change is remembering you are not “out of control”. What are some of your best tips for dealing with change?