Class of 2018: Researching for interviews


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This piece was written for Class of 2018 Month by Pablo Costa, a Careers Adviser at the University of Leeds Careers Centre.

As a former recruiter, I was pretty sure an interview candidate would know what skills we would talk about during an interview. After all, we highlighted them on the advert. But I wanted to see the motivation that they had for joining the organisation in the first place. Why?

Well, many recruiters worry that candidates have just applied because they think “the more I apply to, the more chance I have, right?” So how can you show motivation in an interview using research?

A really easy way is to follow the company via social media. Most organisations have LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook accounts, and you can follow them for the most recent updates. You can research the organisation’s website, but what information should you gather? A good idea would be to fully understand who they are, their sector, and any recent news, but for more in-depth points to cover in your research, read on!

Research on the organisation

First of all, you need to know who you’re dealing with. Are they local or global? What sector are they in? What are their products or services? What are their values? What’s the latest news on them? Dig up answers to these questions and you’ll have a solid base of knowledge to go to interview with.

Just what exactly is meant by company ‘values’? Values describe the beliefs that an organisation holds about itself and how it operates. Examples can include integrity, respect, diversity, honesty, and belief in sustainability. Demonstrating how you fit with a company’s values shows you’re interested in the company, not just the role you’re applying for.

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Research on the sector

Sector research doesn’t just mean knowing what area the company does business in. You could conduct research on a company’s competition, recent events, external factors that are affecting a sector, and many more things. Hear about a recent merger in the same sector, or a relevant charity receiving new funding from the government? If you can bring pertinent information to the interview table – maybe even developments your interviewer might not have heard about – it’s bound to impress.

Research the role

More than anything else, it is crucial that you understand the role to which you’re applying. As well as reading the job profile, you could use resources such as Prospects to give you a deeper insight into the activities involved in a specific position. For instance, here’s the profile on what to expect from the role of Secondary School Teacher.

Additionally, if you have a LinkedIn account, you could also search for people who have worked in a similar graduate role before.

Research your extra-curricular activities

Many organisations help charities or take part in events that help a local community. Some are involved with environmental activities or promote other good causes. Maybe you have done volunteering that relates to these – if so, you can certainly mention it during the course of the interview. It will give them more reason to choose you, especially if you already have a connection with them.

Research Countries

If you speak a second language or even multiple languages, it can be worth investigating if it could be pertinent to the company to which you’re applying. The organisation might be present in a country where your language is spoken, sell their products there, or be looking to move or expand there. If you have cultural or linguistic knowledge that could help them develop their organisation abroad, it’s another selling point in your favour!

Typical interview questions designed to test your research

Some of the questions an interviewer may ask to test you on your research include:

  • Why are you interested in the position?
  • What do you know about our organisation?
  • What challenges do we have as a company?
  • Who are our competition?
  • What is happening in our sector?
  • What are our values and how do they match your own?
  • What makes you a strong fit for our company?

None of these should give you any difficulty if you cover everything mentioned in this blog!

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Filed under Advice, Class of 2018, Interviews

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