If you want to start a business, it’s often said that the secret is “location, location, location.” If you want to interview well, one of the best ways to prepare is to “research, research, research.”
When applying for positions, it is easy to forget that the process is always one of mutual selection: You choose where to apply, and the employer chooses a candidate to hire. Often, a key factor in the employer’s decision is the answer to a simple question: How well does the candidate understand the position and the organization?
With a small investment of time, you can equip yourself with the knowledge you need to show you’ve done your homework on the role of the position, the industry, and the organization.
Here are a few recommended resources for your research.
- The organization’s website. Most organizations have an “About Us” section on their website that provide a quick overview of what they do and their history. In addition “News” or “Press” sections of sites often include information about events, partnerships, or new product features. This can provide you with a sentence or two in your cover letter. You can also use this information to formulate interview questions specific to the employer.
- Vault Guides. Career Services subscribes to Vault, a provider of “in-depth intelligence on what it’s really like to work in an industry, company or profession—and how to position yourself to land that job.” You can access Vault through DartBoard‘s Resource Library. Once you log into Vault, visit the Guides in the right hand menu to see a range of resources ranging from how to handle a case interview to employer profiles and guides for careers in industries including energy, film and healthcare.
- Use databases available through the Dartmouth Library. From the library’s homepage, search the Library Catalog for Databases.If you are applying for a position with a nonprofit organization, use GuideStar to search for information ranging from mission and impact programs to number of employees and financial health.If you are applying for a position with a for-profit organization, check out MarketLine Advantage, you can search for companies by name and industry. Results often include news updates, history, financial reporting, and listings of senior leadership.
- Take notes on information you find, keeping a close eye on three areas.
- Organizational culture: Do you have a feel for what the organization does and their general operating philosophy?
- Fit: Do you understand the position that you’ve applied for? Can you see how your skills and experience would be a good fit for the organization?
- Items of interest: Have you gathered any fun facts or information that you can use in an interview question — or mention to demonstrate your interest in the organization?
You are doing well if you emerge from your research with the ability to tell a friend, professor or your grandmother what the company does, what you’d be doing if hired, and what’s exciting about the opportunity. You will also be ready to demonstrate your clear understanding of what the job is and why it is the right opportunity for you.