If you want the job, you’ve got to demonstrate your passion and intelligence in an interview.
But it’s not just about showcasing your enthusiasm, or writing a compelling script to explain your accomplishments. Acing this task also requires careful research about the company and open position. Hiring managers love hearing about how much you’ve looked into the company and why you think you’d be a great fit for this specific role.
“In my experience, very few candidates do any company research before interviewing,” says Donna Svei, a résumé writer for executives and a Fast Company contributor. “[It’s a way to] stand out from other candidates.”
Here’s how to make it clear that you’ve done your prep work during your next big interview:
The best way to show you feel a connection to a company is by citing the firm’s values. These tenets are the baseline and the heartbeat of an organization. Perhaps a company emphasizes values like a “diversity of thought” and “collaboration,” that resonate with you on a personal or professional level. In that case, you can make sure to highlight how you collaborated, or brought new perspectives into your previous positions.
Toni Frana, a career services manager at FlexJobs, says that the most important thing to get across is that you lived that specific value authentically. “If one of the company’s core values is ‘integrity,’ mention how the value holds true for you, or give an example of a work experience when you leaned into the value,” says Frana.
The most effective way to make it clear you’ve done research is to provide both specific numbers and make a connection back to your professional ambitions. “Let’s say in your research you discover the company has experienced a high rate of growth in a certain business segment (or overall),” says Frana. “One approach during the interview is to say something like: ‘I want to work at an organization that is forward-thinking and continually innovating. In my preparation for speaking with you today, I know that you’ve experienced growth’—and be as specific as possible to the company, product, or industry—’a result of X, while continuing to drive the ball forward through the execution of many innovative ideas.'”
This type of background information and reference to the company’s achievements shows that you’ve not only done the research, but you’ve found something that resonates with your idea of an ideal company.
From there, show how this company aligns with your experience from a previous role and your larger goals, says Frana: “Try saying, ‘This role excites me because I’d be able to bring my skill set and strengths to a high-performing team that continues to innovate and grow.'”
Ask questions that include smart details
Hiring managers have heard all those same boring “wrap up” questions in the past. To truly surprise them—and incorporate some of the effort you put in before an interview—go for a few well-contextualized questions.
Says Frana, “If you have a question about the culture for example, try asking something like, ‘I noticed on the company website you really value company culture, so can you tell me more about how this is practiced day-to-day?'”
Moreover, connect it to a positive achievement, thereby doing double duty with your time of asking a question and bring up a company success. Svei recommends trying a format that highlights an achievement in available talent data, such as from insights from LinkedIn or a related venue.
“Phrase your question like, ‘I looked at your hiring statistics on LinkedIn and saw that employment growth has been flat for the last two years and…median tenure is about six years,'” says Svei. “‘That’s great longevity, and what makes people stay?'”
This question of asking about longevity can also help you further inquire about opportunities for professional advancement at the company.