5 On Your Side

Do research to stand out at job interview

Posted May 27, 2009 5:32 p.m. EDT
Updated May 27, 2009 9:17 p.m. EDT

— You landed a job interview. Now it is time to prepare so you stand out. Most of us know you need to find out some basic information about the company. But you need to know more than the chief executive officer's name and what the company does. The key is knowing what to look for and where to find it.

To research a company, most people go straight to its Web site. You will most likely find information about its mission, when it opened, locations and key people. But don't stop there.

"That is not enough. That's a great starting point, but you have to know things about the culture and the nature of the company. How they relate in the community? How they relate in the world, and then know within their industry, are they on the leading edge or are they falling off the page," said Becky Sansbury, with the Avadon Group.

Sansbury works with people in career transition. She said after scouring a company's Web site, Google the names of key people, especially those you will interview with.

Sansbury used 5 on Your Side's Monica Laliberte as an example, and found out a lot of information about her.

“You have built your reputation on making sure that people get a fair deal. That's how people know 5 on Your Side,” Sansbury said.

She also found out Laliberte took part in a "Dancing like the Stars" for charity event.

“What that could tell me is, this person is willing to put him or herself out there in the community for a good cause," Sansbury said.

Sansbury said it also shows WRAL is community oriented. She said those are good "nuggets" for a job interview. Another suggestion, just call and ask the person who answers the phone a few basic questions.

“That will tell you two things. It may give you the exact information that you're seeking. But it will also tell you the flavor of that company. How much do they value the customer service of the very first person who speaks to you,” Sansbury said.

Others ways to get information is to attend community activities, as well as networking and trade association events.

“You potentially hear an excellent speaker or a panel about a topic that could be very helpful to you. Likewise, you would be there surrounded by people in the very industry that is of interest to you. Those are the people you want to meet because they can have not only information, but connections,” Sansbury said.

The bottom line: before you interview, dig deep for information.

“You're informed about them as an individual company. You're informed about them as they fit into an industry. And you're informed about the ways that you can be helpful to them,” Sansbury said.

Another place to check to get good information is "nuggets," the newspaper section that shows philanthropy, awards and promotions. Sansbury said it shows what companies are doing beyond the bottom line.