Insider Company Information
When prepping for your interview, you need to understand the employer and its inner workings as much as possible before the interview. Even if you took time to research the employer prior, now is the time to go back and reread the Employer Research Strategies information. Take special note of the information that can be gained from the corporate annual report. Any candidate who has read the Letter to the Shareholders will be light-years ahead of the competition when it comes to interviewing. You will not only have a summary of the company's operations for the past year and plans for the year ahead, but you will also have access to all of the current lingo and buzzwords that are in play within the corporate corridors. Some companies will even present annual "themes" or areas of specific focus. Know what these are and you will score an instant hit with your interviewer. You will be viewed as a true insider for having access to (and using) information that less than 1 percent of interviewees are accessing—and far less than 1 percent of the entry level interviewees.
The Insider Interview Prep Technique
The very best thing you can do to prepare for an interview with a specific company is to interview someone who is already on the inside. There are two basic methods of finding this person. The first is to use your network. If the interview was the result of a network contact, call to offer your thanks for helping you set up the interview, then ask for assistance in preparing for the interview. If you don't have anyone on your first level who works at the company, ask your first-level contacts if they know anyone who is working there. The second alternative is to seek out an alum. Check with either the Career Center or the Alumni Office (or both) to find out if any former grads are working at the company. The ideal is an individual who went straight out of your college into the company—the more recent, the better.
If and when you have located this contact, call as far in advance of the interview as possible. Make sure you have done your homework so your contact doesn't have to give you all the laborious details you should already know going into the interview. Ask about the person (or persons) with whom you will be interviewing. Personality? Likes? Dislikes? Any hot buttons (good or bad)? Next, ask them about the company. What are the primary issues of focus within the company? Profitability? Quality control and improvement? Global markets? Finally, ask about the interview process. What are the typical steps in the process?
Note that the range of questions you can ask this person is far greater than what you can ask in the course of the interview. And it will give you insider information that can make you a standout in the interview.