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An In-Depth Guide to Doing Your Research Before an Interview (with a worksheet!)

If you have an interview, you're already qualified for the job, but doing your research is the KEY ? to winning over a hiring manager. Read more to learn how and download the worksheet to stay organized.

Most of us have experienced our fair share of interviews, right? We know what it’s like to sit in the hot seat of a brand new office, stumbling over our words with a belly full of nerves as a potential employer drills us with questions.

We can agree the anxiety—equal parts pain and excitement—sometimes get the best of us, making the interview process that much more intense, worrisome, and unnerving.

I also think it’s safe to say that most of us have been in a scenario when an interview went totally awry and/or not as well as it could have AKA you didn’t get the job. (Am I right?)

Luckily, interviewing doesn’t have to be a stressful situation. In fact, us millennials have absolutely all of the resources to make the best out of even the worst interview experience.

Doing your research before an interview will make you the most prepared candidate there — and that’s what hiring managers want to see.

Here are 5 ways you can be overly prepared with individualized attention to succeed at every interview you have (don’t forget to download the worksheet!):

1. Do your research.

On the surface this seems like such a simple thing, but conducting fairly thorough research about a company will help you immensely during the interview.

Be sure to check up on their mission, values, goals, and services. Memorize what you can to become well versed on the company’s overall structure, for it will show during your conversation with the hiring manager.

Give this interview your all by showing a potential employer just how invested you are in understanding the ins and outs of their business.

You can do this by being prepared to ask thoughtful, well-researched questions. This worksheet includes 14 starting point questions for your research purposes, plus 5 additional tips (including a pro-LinkedIn tip) to help you be prepared:

2. Write interview questions.

An interview is just as much an opportunity for you to get to know a company as it is for the company to get to know you. Take some time before the interview to write down personal, thoughtful questions you want to ask about a business.

Consider asking what their typical hours of operation are. Perhaps it’s worth inquiring what would make a candidate successful in the position. Maybe you could investigate what the company’s culture is like. Take advantage of this opportunity to gain a better understanding of what this potential business is really like.

Most hiring managers will welcome your questions. Many will even find this step very telling of how organized and thoughtful you are as a candidate!

3. Be social. 

Upon meeting the hiring manager (or interview panel) remember to exude confidence and use proper social skills. Be relaxed but avoid being too informal and casual.

Instead, introduce yourself, offer a handshake, and thank the hiring manager for inviting you in for the interview. The words “thank you” always go a long way.

Remember: If you’re at an interview, you’re already qualified for the position. They are looking for the person who will fit in with their environment.

Try to start a small conversation about how nice the facility is or how excited you are to be there. Rather than diving right into the interview, be certain to let a bit of your happy, positive personality shine through. This will give the interviewer(s) a chance to see who you are before studying your qualifications.

[Tweet “If you have an interview, you’re already qualified. Now is the time to shine.”]

It will also remind them you’re a balanced person just as much as you are a potential employee. It’s a package deal after all, right?

4. Speak with intent.

There comes a point in many professionals’ career journeys that education and former jobs become less important, and skills and abilities become the top priority.

During an interview, try to spend more time discussing all of your polished skills (e.g. public speaking, above average typing speed, customer service relations, bilingual abilities, software knowledge, etc.) to demonstrate just how valuable you would be to this team. Try to include numbers, when possible. 

Instead of speaking to the past jobs you’ve held or where you went to school a number of years ago, discussing your present skills and techniques will make you more desirable. Employers enjoy speaking to candidates with experience and practical knowledge.

They want to know what you can do for them, so tell ’em! Don’t be shy when it comes to bragging (a little). A hiring manager is going to want to know what you’re capable of bringing to the team.

Along these lines, while you should never name drop a contact, let the interviewer know if you’ve worked with teams or people from different companies.

As always, never say anything can’t follow up on — and never make promises.

[Tweet “Interview tip: Instead of talking about past jobs, talk about your skills and experiences.”]

5. Follow up.

There’s little more frustrating to an employer than a candidate who doesn’t follow up after the interview ends. Neglecting to check in with the hiring manager after the interview only implies to the company that you’re uninterested or inexperienced.

Remember to send a courtesy email to the person (or people) you spoke with. If you can, drop a physical thank you letter in the mail — it’s even more personable and more effective.

[Tweet “Interview tip: Ask for a business card so you have an address to send a thank you note.”]

Thanking a hiring manager for their time and reminding them of your enthusiasm for the role can only help your candidacy against the competition. This act will once again demonstrate how thoughtful you are, while also showing them how invested you are in this role. Being gracious is critical!

While some of your interview will come down to chance (remember the best time for an interview is 10:30 am on a Tuesday!), conducting research, creating questions, being social, speaking with a purpose, and following up are all very basic, necessary steps in the interview process.

[Tweet “Interview tip: The best time for an interview is 10:30 am on a Tuesday.”]

If you’re serious and thoroughly enthusiastic about a job, remember to try and hit all of these steps. An employer looking for the best fit—both in personality and experience— will likely pay attention to these areas. At any rate, doing your best to follow through with these tips will give you invaluable experience, even if it doesn’t guarantee you the job.

At GenTwenty, your success matters to us. We want all of our readers to find their passions, follow their dreams, and above all else be their best selves. Being mindful and professional during an interview is just another example of being your best self in your career. Give 110% in everything you do, friends!

Know someone who could use this? Tweet them:

[Tweet “Get @gen_twenty’s Interview Research and Preparation Guide here (it’s free!):”]

About the Author

Rachael Warren (Tulipano)

Rachael is a University of Southern Maine graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Sociology. She remotely works full-time as a Senior Content Marketing Specialist for Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. In her leisure time, Rachael enjoys traveling with her husband, finding the next Netflix series to binge, and taking too many photos of her dogs Jax and Kai. Rachael is obsessed with chapstick, favors the Oxford comma, and is a proud Mainer. You'll likely find her exploring New England + beyond.