When they asked me this question, I knew my interview was over.

Not too long ago, I sat in an interview faced with the question “What would you do

to fix this problem in our school system?” I’m pretty sure the look on my face

showed exactly what I was thinking: “Oh no.” I had no idea what to say because

frankly, I hadn’t come up with a solution to the issue they had clearly wanted help

within the job description. A few days later, I received the email that they had

chosen someone else, and it made complete sense that they would. I hadn’t come

prepared.

We prepare for interviews by perfecting our resume and cover letter and rehearsing

our lines to common questions such as “Name a time when you completed a project

successfully” or “What are your top three strengths?” (in fact, take a look at this

article touching on questions such as these). While those are important aspects of

the process, it’s easy to forget the research. There are several strategies to be on

your A-game during an interview.

Begin by researching the company that you are interested in. What products or

services do they offer? What is their mission statement and vision? Are there

employees listed on the website that you could reach out to and research on

LinkedIn? What do you like about this business? What could use improvement?

Next, imagine yourself as CEO of the company. What would you do differently? If

you are interested in managing social media, what posts or strategies would you

suggest for them? If you are interested in website creation, what would you add to

their page to make it stand out? Create a one-page business plan of the

improvements you would make. During the interview, you’ll be prepared if they ask

you what you’d do differently. If they don’t ask, you could mention that you’ve taken

a look at their company and come up with a few suggestions. Offer them the one-

pager you’ve created, but be careful not to be too explicit on your ideas, as they may

implement them without you.

Lastly, prepare several questions for the employer. While it may not be great to

ask “So, what’s the pay?”, there are a lot of smart questions to be asking. Do they do

everything themselves, or are some tasks outsourced? What processes do they go

through in making big decisions? What is the most challenging aspect of their job,

and what is their favorite part? You should also ask about the structure of the

company, as it is important to know if you’ll fit in with the business. How flexible is

the company with hours, or what location you work from? Are they open to new

ideas? What is the culture of the company?

Asking the employer “What is it that your company does?” shows a lack of interest

in the position and laziness on your part. Just as you would never date someone

without knowing their character, who their friends are, and the decisions that they

make, don’t look to work for someone without diving into who they are as a

company and what they’re all about.

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