- Some day you will get to return the favor. An ace insurance salesman built a successful business by offering low cost coverage to first year medical students. Ten years later, these now successful practitioners remembered the company (and person) that helped them when they were just getting started. He gets new referrals every day.
- They, too, are seeking information. An employer who has been out of , school for several years might be interested in what the latest SEARCH developments in the classroom are. He or she may be hoping to learn as PROCESS much from you as you are from them, so be forthcoming in offering information. This desire for new information may be the reason he or she agreed to see you in the first place.
- Internal politics. Some people will see you simply to make themselves appear powerful, implying to others in their organization that they have the authority to hire (they may or may not), an envied prerogative.
- They're "saving for a rainy day". Executives know that it never hurts to look and that maintaining a backlog of qualified candidates is a big asset when the floodgates open and supervisors are forced to hire quickly.
- They're just plain nice. Some people will see you simply because they feel if s the decent thing to do or because they just can't say "no."
- They are looking themselves. Some people will see you because they are anxious to do a friend (whoever referred you) a favor. Or because they have another friend seeking new talent, in which case you represent a referral they can make (part of their own continuing network process). You see, networking never does stop it helps them and it helps you.
Research, Research, and More Research
The research you did to find these companies is nothing compared to the research you need to do now that you're beginning to narrow your search. If you followed our detailed suggestions when you started targeting these firms in the first place, you've already amassed a great deal of information about them. If you didn't do the research then, you sure better decide to do it now. Study each company as if you were going to be tested on your detailed knowledge of their organization and operations. Here's a complete checklist of the facts you should try to know about each company you plan to visit for a job interview:
- The address of (and directions to) the office you're visiting
- Headquarters location (if different)
- Some idea of domestic and international branches
- Relative size (compared to other similar companies)
- Annual billings, sales, and/or income Qast two years)
- Subsidiary companies and/or specialized divisions
- Departments (overall structure)
- Major accounts, products, or services
- History of the firm (specialties, honors, awards, famous names)
- Names, titles, and backgrounds of top management
- Existence (and type) of training program
- Relocation policy
- Relative salaries (compared to other companies in field or by size)
- Recent developments concerning the company and its products or services (from your trade magazine and newspaper reading)
- Everything you can learn about the career, likes, and dislikes of the person (s) interviewing you
Is it really so important to do all this? Well, somebody out there is going to. And if you happen to be interviewing for the same job as that other, well prepared, knowledgeable candidate, who do you think will impress the interviewer more?
As we've already discussed, if you give yourself enough time, most of this information is surprisingly easy to obtain. In addition to the reference sources covered in the Career Resources, the company itself can probably supply you with a great deal of data. A firm's annual report which all publicly owned companies must publish yearly for their stockholders is a virtual treasure trove of information. Write each company and request copies of their last two annual reports. A comparison of sales, income, and other data over this period may enable you to discover some interesting things about their overall financial health and growth potential. Many libraries also have collections of annual reports from major corporations.
Attempting to learn about your interviewer is hard work, the importance of "T" which is underestimated by most applicants (who then, of course, don't bother to do it). Being one of the exceptions may get you a job. Find out if he or she has written any articles that have appeared in the trade press or, even better, books on his or her area(s) of expertise. Referring to these writings during the course of an interview, without making it too obvious a compliment, can be very effective. We all have egos and we all like people to talk about us. The interviewer is no different from the rest of us. You might also check to see if any of your networking contacts worked with him or her at his current (or a previous) company and can help "fill you in."
Fork on the Left, Knife on the Right
Interviews are sometimes conducted over lunch, though this is not usually the case with entry level people. If it does happen to you, though, try to order something in the middle price range, neither filet mignon nor a cheeseburger.
Do not order alcohol ever! If your interviewer orders a carafe of wine, politely decline. You may meet another interviewer later who smells the alcohol on your breath, or your interviewer may have a drinking problem. It's just too big a risk to take after you've come so far. Just do your best to maintain your poise, and you'll be fine.