I have a job interview scheduled with a large aircraft manufacturer. How do I make a great impression?
Let them know you aren't a "passive" lazy candidate - that you are REALLY interested in them and that you know how to use the Internet to research anything important to you. It could be the critical differentiator that gets you the job offer vs. someone else who may be equally qualified (who didn't do any research).
Then, RESEARCH this company extensively before your interview and you'll have hundreds of questions to ask them (very important!) without any additional effort. And, be sure to share with them the fact that you did research on them, and, hopefully, on their competitors as well.
Doing research is SO important in making an great impression, as well as in deciding whether or not the employer is really a good employer for you.
I've had recruiters (and other company interviewers) tell me that they automatically eliminated anyone who didn't visit the company Website. So be sure to visit it, and look around it for:
- How they are organized? Locations? Plants? Sales offices? Headquarters?
- What they do and where they do it?
- Names of products, services, and executives?
- News (press releases, other announcements, and maybe links to stories about the company in publications or other parts of the media)
- Financial performance - look for the latest annual report and also back issues to see how they've been doing (you don't want to be the last person hired before they begin a laying everyone off).
Yahoo Finance - is a fabulous research resource for finding out all kinds of useful things about publicly-held companies (those with shares of ownership - stock - sold on a stock exchange, like the NYSE) and look for MORE information:
- Find the "ticker" symbol (abbreviation of the company name associated with the stock market - like you see in the WSJ, and other, daily stock sales reports).
- Look at the stock's performance - going up or down? Trend?
- Click on "Headlines" under the "News & Info" in the left column - what's happening in that industry according to the press? Is the industry doing well over all or poorly or ??? Where does this company fit into that picture?
- Click on "Company Events" under "News & Info" in the left column - see what's scheduled and what's been happening in the company.
- Click on "Profile" under "Company" in the left column - get a summary of the company's history, position, strengths and weaknesses, industry, number of employees, names of the executives, plus links to other information
- Click on "Competitors" under "Company" in the left column to get an overview of the industry and competition. Then click on the competitors' ticker symbol to see the Yahoo Finance data on the competitors. VERY IMPORTANT!
- Click on "Analyst Opinion" under "Analyst Coverage" in the left column to see what the STOCK analysts are saying about the company and how strong they think it is.
- Click on the "Analyst Estimates" under "analyst Coverage" to see how well the stock analysts think the company is going to do, particulaly based on EPS (Earnings Per Share). Up forecast or down?
If you have the time and the energy (and hopefully you do), do the same kind of research on their major competitors (according to Yahoo Finance and any other material you might have seen). Know how this potential employer ranks in their industry, and what their advantages may be over their competition. You should also know their weaknesses if you can figure that out, but be careful about sharing anything negative during the interview.
So, going in knowing a great deal about them and their company will impress them with your interest in working there - be sure to make reference to things you learned in your research. Also mention your visit to the company Website.
This interview is a 2-way street - you are interviewing them to see if you want to work for that company, with those people, in that environment. They may not meet YOUR requirements.
AFTER the Interview - The Thank You Notes
BE SURE to pick up a business card from each person you met (or note their name carefully), and then write a unique thank you note to each person immediately after the interview. With a company this size, it's probably best to ask the HR person the best way to contact them (e-mail or hand-written and snail-mailed). DON'T FORGET TO SEND THE THANK YOU'S IMMEDIATELY! IT IS A *MAJOR* DIFFERENTIATOR FOR YOU (if received)!
Thank them for taking the time to speak with you. Remind them, gently, of some aspect of your experience or skill set that seemed most important to them. AND, if there is something you didn't handle particularly well, try to reframe the topic and recover. [More on Thank You Notes in a job search.]