You wouldn't go into an exam without doing your revision and expect to do very well. While not an exam, the interview is a test of technical expertise and an assessment of a candidate's potential cultural fit and interest in the company. So why is it that so many candidates fail to do their homework prior to the interview?

Research the company

One of the most common criticisms from clients about interviews is the candidate's failure to conduct some form of research on the company and the market. This result in questions answered badly, demonstrating a fundamental lack of knowledge and interest in the company. It has to be asked: why was the candidate at the interview? What was achieved? In many cases candidates waste their own and the client's time and manage to leave a less than favourable impression of themselves with the client.
Acting as the interviewer and training others on interview techniques/skills has played a key role in every HR professional's career. Who is best placed to know the tricks of the trade? Who knows better what does and does not make an impression? Who often forgets to practice what they preach?

Create the right impression

Candidates can conduct their due diligence and create the right impression in a number of ways.
Importantly, be completely comfortable about the role for which you are being interviewed, get as much information as you can about the company, its culture, dress code (to ensure you are attired appropriately), the HR structure, who the client base is, role responsibilities etc. If a role specification and/or structure chart is available make sure that you have it. This should naturally spur you on to find out more about the company.
Information can be found using a variety of media such as the broadsheets, internet searching under the company web site and other web sites in order to gain a better understanding of market trends and conditions. Try Hoovers UK, CAROL (Company Annual Reports On Line) and Additionally, ask for company reports.
Try to establish where the company sits in its industry sector, how it positions itself in the market and who its competitors are. Try to read recent media reports. Remember the better your knowledge, the better you'll perform and the higher your chances of securing the role.
HR is a highly competitive recruitment market and it is imperative to prepare in order to get the job. Think about it. What makes you different from other applicants? What will make you stand out in the interviewer's mind? We have noticed that those who are successful in the job market demonstrate credibility and an excellent all round knowledge, making their interview a pleasure for those who meet them.
Candidates who have conducted research have fed back to us that knowing more about the market and the company has helped them project a better angle to their answers and form more informed opinions thus creating a favourable impression. Clients have been equally impressed with those who demonstrate good company and product knowledge. It is expected these days that candidates will conduct extensive research prior to an interview. In a buyer's market can you afford not to meet expectations?

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