RESEARCHING A COMPANY PRIOR TO A SALES INTERVIEW
Planning & Researching a Potential Employer - Pre-Planning - Minimum Preparation
You are expected to fully research every company prior to every interview. It sounds basic but unbelievably around one in four sales applicants in our experience do not undertake any research prior to an interview and hope to be able to ‘wing it’. It is essential that you do some research on the business, industry and market before every interview. It is essential for two reasons a) to demonstrate your interest in the business and b) more importantly, to ensure that the business is right for you!
This exercise will ensure that you do the minimum preparation and not to do so is totally unacceptable in this 'Google' age. As a minimum you will need to know 5 facts on the following:
- The Company - 5 solid facts - structure, history, turnover, amount of employees, directors, etc
- The Role - 5 solid facts - patch, core responsibilities, key requirements, etc
- The Products/Services - 5 solid facts - application, purpose, etc
- The Marketplace - 5 solid facts - clients, competitors, how competitive, etc
You will be asked questions such as 'So, what do you know about us?' and 'nothing'/'just what the recruitment consultant told me' will not endear you!
Pre-Planning - Minimum Preparation
To go beyond minimum expectation you could research the following:
Look at the job specification and tailor your CV to the requirements of the job - or do a 'thematic appendix' to your CV that details the job requirements, matching examples that you have of that experience/skill. This will help you enormously in a competency based interview - i.e. questions that are 'give me an example of when you have……..' rather than 'what would you do if………'
Go onto company's house website, for less that £5 you can download the company financial report including data on the company directors (other directorships held, previous directorships, etc.
Google search what the company do - who are their competitors - what are their USP's, who are the key personnel in the competitors, what is their market share, what do people say about them.
See if there are any reports/white papers that the company has been involved in
Google the name of the interviewer and the company name - you'll be amazed how much information you can glean on them - what PR initiatives have they been involved with, recent wins, product launches, etc.
Search Linked in or other networking sites for the name of your interviewer - these often detail their career history, education, professional memberships/affiliations and even interests (have a picture in your minds eye of the interviewer before you meet them) NB Words of WARNING - I once had a candidate who came across as a stalker the amount of information (including their home address and kid's names) that they were able to glean - don't come across as too intense or psychotic!!!
Look for the company's products - USP's, what do they feel like, get a feel for them. If it is a product you can buy or find in a wholesalers get hold of the product, feel it in the shop, demo it for yourself!
Type into the Google bar 'Links:www
Five additional things to research if the role is not confidential:
- Call the company for company literature/promotional literature. Explain that you are attending an interview (it will get back to the interviewer)
- Call customer services/ the sales office to ask questions to obtain information on market trends, competition, etc. (it will get back to the interviewer!!)
- Contact someone already in the post. What is x like to work for? Any hints and tips? What would you research if you were going for an interview? What should I know about the business? Why do you remain with the business? (it will get back to the interviewer!!!)
- Contact the equivalent person in your role with a competitor - what does the company do well/not so well? Would you consider working for company x? If not, why not? (understand the weaknesses of the business and potential pitfalls to probe at interview)
- Contact clients/distributors to obtain a full rounded opinion of the company prior to interview.
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