You know you need to research the company before your interview. It’ll help you discover any questions you have about working there. Plus, taking time to prepare shows the hiring manager you take this seriously
But there’s more to do than reviewing the company’s about page.
You’ll also want to spend some time familiarizing yourself with the industry. You should follow multiple companies in the field on social media, subscribe to industry newsletters, and learn what everyone in that sector reads. (And if you’re unsure of which leaders to follow and what newsletters to subscribe to, then ask the next time you’re in an informational interview, it’s a great response for those times when someone asks how they can help.)
Another easy way to stay up to date is to follow current events by using Google alerts. Set one up for the company, key industry terms, and competitors. That way you’ll automatically get emails about major developments.
This’ll give you the facts you’ll use to show your interviewer you “get it,” even if you don’t have a lot of experience. But the big question is when should you drop these answers into conversation? As you can imagine, rattling off a bunch of facts while you walk from the lobby to the interview room won’t get you too far.
Instead, as you prepare your answers to the most common questions, think about what you’ve learned and how you can weave this new knowledge into conversation naturally.
To get you started, here are four examples:
1. When You’re Asked: “Why Are You Interested in Our Company?”
Discussing the industry is one way to separate yourself from someone who’s looking for any job with a competitive salary.
One of the reasons I want to work here is because your company has a track record for embracing innovation and creative thinking. The field has been growing by leaps and bounds in the past few years and [Company’s] products and ideas like [example] have been at the forefront. I’m drawn to the opportunity to work in this kind of creative environment.
2. When You’re Asked: “What Do You Know About Our Company?”
Even if you’re brand new to the field, you can show what you’ve learned about it.
I first came across your company [at event/ from job posting/ hearing from someone], and loved that you mission is to [briefly summarize]. So from there, I delved into blog posts, press releases, and the company Twitter account, so I’ve read about on your recent product launch and quarterly results. I was particularly interested in reading your CEO’s comments on [sector] in [industry newsletter or article]. It was really helpful to me in understanding [company mission/ shift in direction/ new product].
I BET YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN GO AFTER ANY JOB YOU WANT NOW
...Within reason of course, let’s not go completely nuts.
3. When You’re Asked: “What Are Your Strengths?”
If you’ve worked in this field previously, you can knock this question out of the park by highlighting your industry experience and expertise.
One of my strengths is my knowledge and experience within the industry. I have over [#] years of experience working in this field and have seen firsthand how the challenges and opportunities have evolved over the years. In addition to my previous experience, I’ve also attended numerous industry conferences and have built connections with colleagues at various companies, which I’m confident will help me in this role. Finally, since I’m passionate about [industry], I spend a lot of time reading and researching industry trends and opportunities—for example, I just learned about [new development] in/from [publication/industry thought leader/conference]—and I’m always looking for new insights and information that can help me do my job even better.
4. When You’re Asked: “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”
Try answering by combining your career goals within the field and the position you’re applying for.
I want to work at [Company] because I’m passionate about [industry]. Over the next five years, I hope to deepen my experience in this industry and be seen as an expert. For example, I recently read in [industry publication] that [skill] is the future, so I’ve been taking courses and learning all I can about it. Furthermore, while I’ve mostly had individual contributor roles, I’ve had a few managerial experiences and enjoy mentoring and developing others, and hope to assume more managerial responsibilities as I grow my skill set and demonstrate my impact.
Everyone knows to review the position description and learn about the company before they go on an interview. But actually sharing industry knowledge is taking it a step further. So, when you’re looking to edge out the competition, it’s a strategy that’ll help you showcase your energy and sincere interest in working there.
Photo of two people meeting courtesy of annebaek/Getty Images.
Al is a Management Consultant, writer, and speaker. His work has been featured in outlets such as The Muse, Business Insider, Time, and the World Economic Forum. Al writes about job search strategy, career development, higher education, and personal development. He also coaches motivated professionals as a Career Coach on The Muse. See more of his writing on his website or follow him on Twitter.More from this Author