January 30, 2014 by Walter Cogan

Imagine this interview scenario: You are sitting across the table from a potential hiring manager for a job you really want. You have heard great things about the hiring manager and the team you could possibly be a part of. The work seems both highly interesting and challenging. You may even get a big boost in pay. This job seems like it could be your “dream job” and the location is very close to where you live compared to your current hour-long commute. You “really” want this job.

You are halfway through the interview and you sense things are really going your way. The stars seem to being lining up well and your personal chemistry with your interviewer is practically perfect. Your experience seems to be well aligned with the position requirements.

Then comes one of the most important questions of the interview. It’s so simple it should be a slam dunk. Your interviewer asks you: “What do you know about our company?” It seems like a simple enough question. Unfortunately however, you didn’t do your homework. You have heard of the company of course, but you really don’t know about all of the products and services they sell. You took a quick glance at their website but didn’t have much time to study anything in detail. You didn’t look at the company financials, history, or learn about the senior management team or founders. In other words—you know very little and your vague reply confirms your ignorance.

The next person that interviews for the position has very similar skills and experience as yours. The only difference is that they became an expert on the company. This person spent 2 hours learning everything they could know about the company, organization, product line, and the management team. The information was all online so this person read it all, took notes, and was able to converse in depth about what they knew about the company when asked the same question. As a result – this person got “your” dream job.

The moral to this story is obvious. Learning everything you can about a potential employer will only help your odds of being hired. Not doing so however will often eliminate you as a candidate quite quickly because your competition had the knowledge you did not.

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