4 Things You MUST Research Before a Job Interview

Congratulations! You have an interview. But now that you have one, how do you
nail your interview, rather than blow it?

If you think about the traditional process of applying for jobs in the visible market,
you have between a one-in-three to a one-in five chance of getting the job, assuming 3 or 5 people have been put up as a shortlist.

So how do you get to beat out the competition in a job interview?

Here are 4 things you MUST research before a job interview if you want to be the
successful applicant:

1. Research the industry and company

It amazes me how many people I coach fail to do this most foundational task.  Assuming you’re on that shortlist, you already know who the employer is.  So it makes sense to research the company, any news on them, who their competition is, and what the impact of any news has on the company or the industry.

    How do you do this practically?

    • Set up Google Alerts.

    • Check out the company’s website

    • Follow the company on LinkedIn

    • Follow a Group on LinkedIn that covers the industry

    • Check out Glassdoor

    • Seek out connections who you (might) know for some insights into the company

    • Check out LinkedIn on the background of the interviewer

2. Study the job advertisement/description

When you go for an interview, the more structured the interview the more the interviewers are going to act like Sherlock Holmes. They want to collect evidence from you on how your past experience (work or life) can support your application.

What are the main things interviewers are going to look for?

Focus in on the essential selection criteria, outlined in the job advertisement or description.

If I were an interviewer and I needed to evidence to my boss or a key stakeholder why I’d be recommending anyone for a role, I’d be focussing primarily on the main selection criteria.

But this is not all there is.

I also want to see how the person is likely to fit in with the rest of the team, the culture.

    How do you do this practically?

    • Go online to see if they explicitly state their values

    • Work out what those values mean in relation to your role.

    • Look online to see the dress code

    • Go to Glassdoor for any tips

    • Check how they portray themselves online

    • Speak to people about dress code

3. Rehearse articulating your experience

While I have already discussed the importance of selection criteria, what you need to do is evidence how you have met the criteria at work or in life.

I teach the mnemonic SAO, which stands for Situation, Action and Outcome.

How do you apply SAO?

Aim for more recent examples, as this evidence shows more up-to-date experience/skills.
Always explain when it happened: “oh I only dealt with a similar issue two months ago…”

Describe what you did, not what “we” did. Most employers are seeking to employ you, not your team.
Describe what you did in the context of the team.
Break the Action into bite sized pieces and offer the interviewer more opportunity to delve deeper by asking you to do so.

Round off the answer to the issue/Situation and Action to the Outcome, typically addressing the question, for example  “…and by doing so, we were able to increase Sales by 25 percent over the year.”

4. Test your equipment/the commute

  • Nowadays, many interviews are conducted via Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams or pre-interview software like vidii.  In that case make sure you test your main devices before going live.
  • Ensure the battery/power levels are enough on all devices, earphones, computer etc.
  • Test Wi-Fi and your phones are all OK. With people often working from home, internet and phone networks can be intermittent. Make sure you have back up.
  • Get all distractions out of the way, meaning kids, pets and significant others are aware this is important to you.
  • Keep any notes nearby but out of sight of the interviewer.
  • If you are commuting to an interview, then pre-check the time to get there and be steady and calm a minimum of 15 minutes before your appointment.
  • Dry-run the commute by public transport or via car.
  • Look at Maps or Waze for delayed departure. Algorithms are fairly accurate on commute times for delayed trips.
  • On the day check the news in case of accidents or delays on the road.


I have coached in excess of 1,200 people. Even the most seasoned of them could improve in at least several of these areas. What can you do that will set you apart and win the job?!


To find out how you, your colleagues, family or friends can  do better in their careers, go to  Career365 online programs or career based books in hard cover  or in e-book format here.

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