We’ve written about the importance of doing research on the company before an interview. Here’s a tip that goes beyond the standard review of the company’s website:
Make contact with at least one customer who does business with the company. You will be amazed at the information these customers are willing to share. Ask them questions like:
- What sets the company apart from others you do business with?
- Why do you like working with this company?
- Do you believe it would be a good place to work, and why?
So, how does this help you during the interview? When you’re asked, “Why do you want to work for this company?” or “Tell me what you know about our company,” give them the standard responses based on your research, but take it one step further by saying something like, “I also believe in going the extra mile, so I wanted to see what your customers thought of you. I talked to [customer’s name]. Would you like to know what they said?”
Think about it. What employer doesn’t want to know what their customers think of them? I can assure you that the employer will be “all ears” and will no doubt ask you all kinds of questions. Now, you are no longer just another candidate, but one who stands head and shoulders above the others. In fact, this strategy is so unique that you’ll put yourself ahead of 99 percent of the other candidates.
Convinced? Here’s what you need to do: use your Internet search tools (company website, LinkedIn, Google) to identify those customers. Then, just make some contacts, telling them you have a job interview with the company, and would like to talk with someone who works with that company to get their perspective as a customer. You’ll be surprised at how willing your contacts are to give you their insights. Ideally, it’s best to do this in person, but phone interviews can work as well.
About the Author: Dorothy Graham is an enthusiastic advocate for helping others determine, pursue, or change their career paths. She is a well-respected leader and expert in Career Coaching and Career Development, with more than 30 years of experience helping countless individuals develop and pursue their career goals by providing advice and coaching on career/academic decisions, career planning, resume preparation, job search and other career-related topics. A sought after source, she is regularly quoted by the media, and she continually stays abreast of career trends in her role as Manager of the Career Coaching Center at Bellevue University.