“Being unprepared heightens nerves,” says virtuoso flute player, James Galway. He would know; an unrehearsed performance is as painful as an unprepared job interview. If nothing else, walking in the room with your homework done will give you confidence. Your preparation will demonstrate your work ethic to the employer, as well as your sincere interest in the role at hand.
1. Look at what the company’s saying
Too often I hear clients say they were disappointed in a candidate’s lack of awareness about their latest project or social media campaign. The employer wants to spend the time talking about the work they are already doing, not catching you up to speed. The content they put out (on their website, blog and social media accounts) will not only give you a point of reference but can also give you helpful information about their particular tone and brand.
2. Look at what others are saying
Don’t stop at the company website though. Websites like Glassdoor might tip you off to some interview questions you can expect and the twitter accounts of current employees can give you a better sense of the company culture. Set up a Google news alert for the organization and follow the updates through the day of the interview. The last thing you want is to walk into your interview with company X on the day of a breaking news story about company X and say something like, “Gee, everyone seems really busy around here today. Is it always like this?”
3. Look at who you’re meeting
If you can, get a roster of who you’ll be meeting with ahead of time. Look them up on LinkedIn and read their bios. Look at their career history but hunt for other helpful personal details. What charities are they involved with? Where did they go to school? Do they list any hobbies? Have you worked with any of the same people? You might have something in common you can connect over.
4. Gather your examples
Jot down some of your all-star moments as a leader, problem-solver and communicator. The best examples are those where there was a problem that required you to take action that led to a good result. Practice how you can efficiently articulate the circumstances and highlight the dynamic choices you made.
5. Prepare some questions
There is only one question I can guarantee you will be asked in any interview and that is “What questions do you have for us?” Asking a question demonstrates your interest, gets you answers that could affect your decision, and further distinguishes your mind and voice from other candidates. Here are some good questions to ask: “How will the company help me develop?” “How has this role evolved over the years?” “Can you tell me a bit about the team I’ll be working with?” “What constitutes success at this position and company?”
Give yourself the gift of preparation. A little homework will give you a lot of confidence and demonstrate your dedication. It’s a simple way to show you’re serious.
Amy Segelin is the President and co-owner of Chaloner, a national executive search firm focused on communications, public relations, and marketing recruitment.
This story originally appeared on Chaloner’s The Interview Room blog.