Behavioral interviewing tip #3: Research the company and its industry and products

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This post may seem a bit obvious to you job search veterans out there, but I’m writing this series to be of benefit to job seekers of all experience levels.

It takes effort to put together a series of behavioral job interviewing questions. We know because we do it all the time for our clients. We talk to the client, understand what behaviors are needed in the position for success, and select standard questions or write new questions that uncover whether the candidate is likely to manifest those behaviors on the job.

It’s common to think of companies as having all the power. They are going to assess you and decide whether to give you the job or not. This is true to a point. But if you put yourself in the company’s shoes for a moment, you will see that there is also a big fear of loss at work in the hiring process. Not having the right person on board is costing the company, and the clock is ticking. Yet hiring the wrong person for the job is even worse. In the case of a CEO, other C-level exec, or other high-level manager, hiring the wrong person can devastate the company, perhaps put it out of business. Even putting the wrong entry-level candidate in a position can do a lot of damage. The company has the power to hire you, but you will have power to succeed or fail once you are in the company.

So one of the first things a company wants to see during the interview is interest in the company and its work. If you don’t care at this stage, why will you care later? The same thing goes for preparation. If you aren’t prepared for the interview with some knowledge about the company, why will you prepare for your various tasks in the future? These are important behaviors that the company wants to see right now.

This point is true for any type of interview, but it also has pertinence for behavioral job interviewing specifically. Often the questions will have as context the company’s work, so understanding the company will allow you to answer the questions better. For example:

In our industry, the product development life cycle is very quick–about 18 months. Tell me about how you handled a complicated task that required complicated planning and involved a high degree of time pressure.

Even if you can readily provide an example from your own career, you are going to be able to answer this question more completely if you know something about the company’s industry and products. You will be able to relate your answer to the company’s hopes and fears while demonstrating better preparation, enthusiasm, and discipline.

Empathy for the company and its people is a big part of succeeding in both the job and in the interview for the job. And research into the company is essential to that empathetic stance.

The Key Corporate Services Blog Team