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Preparing for the Interview to Get a Competitive Edge

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Talk to people about the company 

Ask your friends, relatives, and colleagues about the company.  It’s as simple as saying “I have an interview next week with the XYZ company for a marketing position.  Do you know anything about them?” See what kinds of responses you get to this open-ended question.  If all you get is a “no,” follow up by asking if they know anyone else who might.  Do they know anyone who has worked there? Do they know anyone who has done business with the company? 

If at all possible, try to find someone who works there or has worked there in the past.   Those are the folks who can give you the best picture of what it’s like to work at the company.  They are also the ones who can give you insight into the dynamics of what goes on there day to day and what matters most to the organization.  Even if you can’t get any closer than second or third hand information, you can still glean some insights that are very useful.  Some of the things you might learn include:

    • What types of perks the employees enjoy
    • How well different departments work together
    • Whether overtime is usually required
    • What key values the organization adheres to
    • What employees like most and least about the company
    • What types of training the company offers
    • Whether the company likes to promote from within

If you have the advantage of knowing one or more people who work at the company or have worked there in the past, this can work well for you in another way which will be discussed later. Keep in mind when you are discussing the company you want to keep your game face on and keep it professional. In your quest for information, you may run across a current or ex-employee who wants to dish dirt about the company.  By all means, listen, you may get some useful information from them.  Just don’t get in there with them and start slinging too - about that company or any others you have worked for. That kind of talk has a way of getting back to you.   Think of yourself as a reporter asking probing questions of different people and collecting their impressions. The goal is to get information to help you ace the interview. You don’t want to do anything that could damage your chances in the process.

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