In the first part of “Win the Offer,” I shared some insights on the importance of preparation and laying the groundwork before you even begin the job search. The same rules apply when you’ve been selected for an interview. Interviews are arguably the most important part of winning the offer, so you need to put in the effort to match.
First off, if you’ve made it to the interview stage in your application process, take a moment to congratulate yourself. You’ve succeeded in standing out from the faceless resume pile. That means the company sees something in you, and they want to know more. But don’t get too comfortable yet. There’s still a long road ahead.
Without a doubt, the single most important task you can do to stand out from your competition and win that job offer is pre-interview preparation. If you aren’t prepared when you sit down for your interview, plan on doing a lot of interviewing.
Research the company
It cannot be stressed enough that interviewing is a two-way street. You need to determine if you’re interested in working for the company you applied for, just as much as they are trying to determine their interest in you. They are going to want to know how enthusiastic you are about working there. Show them that you know them well and the work they do, and they’ll see you as knowledgeable and prepared. Anything else is an unforced error.
Hopefully you already know them from your experience in the industry or else you familiarized yourself with them when Averity submitted you. Now it’s time to do a deep dive. At a minimum, spend time getting to know the following sources:
• Company website: This is the top resource for learning how the company wants to present itself. Pay attention not just to the words, but also make note of how they organize the information, so you can see where your role fits in the bigger picture.
• News articles and press releases: You can be sure that the company’s latest developments are going to be on the interviewers’ minds, so you should be prepared to discuss it if the topic arises. Read both articles and the company’s own releases, so you can get the outsider and the insider perspective.
• Company blogs: Many companies have blogs on their site, but these days they can also appear on sites like Medium or LinkedIn. The best offer insights you won’t get anywhere else.
• Company stock: Pay attention to highs and lows. This isn’t just for curiosity about stock options. You’ll get the market’s interpretation of the company’s performance, and it can be a helpful hint about sentiment inside the company too.
Know who you are interviewing
Be sure to research the person interviewing you as well. Knowing a little bit about them will give you a leg up when the interview starts. Google them. Check out their LinkedIn profile. Learn something about them that will impress them. Showing interest in someone as a person never hurt anybody. Besides, maybe you went to school together and didn’t even know it.
If you are interviewing for a development or engineering position or sitting for a technical interview, read up on the company’s tech blogs. These are written by the engineering team and make a good window into the issues most important to them right now. Likewise, familiarize yourself with any Stack Overflow posts and your interviewers’ GitHub profile.
Ask intelligent questions
Always show up to an interview prepared with questions to ask. It shows that you are interested, and the level of questions you ask shows your intelligence.
Be mindful, though. Be sure not to ask a question that’s already been answered. And know which questions to ask which people. Don’t ask the HR manager questions about tech, and don’t ask the VP of engineering about the company’s PTO policy or 401(k) matching. At best, they won’t know the answer; at worst, you may sound like your priorities are in the wrong place.
The interview is your opportunity to shine. Take the time to prepare beforehand. Do the research, know who you are talking to, and have intelligent questions ready. Make sure to put in the effort it deserves, and you’ll stand out from the rest of the pack.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Win the Offer, where we’ll discuss how to nail the interview. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it! Getting ahead of myself? Go back and read Win the Offer, Part 1: Before You Start Job Hunting here.
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