We are often surprised by the number of contractors who attend a client interview unprepared. Reading and understanding the Job Description is important and its a good starting point. But let’s not stop there. If you really want to win the contract and land the perfect role, you need to understand the client better than your contractor competition. What you need to win is a basic understanding of your potential client.
The easiest way to start is with a Google search and a visit to the company’s website. Look up their press releases, review their service offerings, and read their entire management page.[Tip: If you’re serious about this contract, read their entire website. If you don’t, someone else will and that gives them a serious competitive advantage over you.] While you are reading, take lots of notes and make sure to answer the following questions:
What do they do?
Where are they located?
Are they publicly traded and, if so, how is their stock doing?
Have they been in the news lately?
Who is the Executive Team?
What are their Vision, Mission and Core Values?
Next, find the company on LinkedIn, join their main page, and then read the five most recent articles they have published to get a ‘flavor’ for what the company is doing. Search their employees and find the interviewer. Click through to the Hiring Manager’s LinkedIn page and review their professional background. Don’t be nervous that they will know you checked them out. It is very gratifying to see a potential contractor conducting their due diligence and we’ve never met a client who was offended that a candidate prepared in this way. [Tip: Prior to clicking through to the Hiring Manager, make sure your own LinkedIn page is flawless. Copy your own page content into Word and run a complete spelling and grammar check. Read it again. Then print it off and read it again. Most mistakes are caught faster on paper than on screen. Once you’re happy with it, go ahead and update it.] While you are on the page of the person who is interviewing you, find something that you both have in common and write it down in your notebook. If you can, find a way to bring up your common interest during the interview. This trick will help you connect on a personal level, which ensures you stand out from your competition. [Tip: Don’t force the conversation about the personal interest. It is more important to keep up with the real-time pace and topics of the interview.]
Remember, while you are conducting all of this research you should be taking lots of notes in a notebook – a key tool to interview success. This is the same notebook you’ll use to brainstorm questions for the client and the same notebook you’ll bring to the interview.
The client’s website, Google, and LinkedIn are the three easiest online sources for researching a company before an interview. There are, of course, many other great sites across the Internet. Do you have any favourite websites you use to prepare for an interview?