Know Yourself, The Job and Information About The Organization

RESEARCH: Know Yourself
Know your abilities, interests, skills, experience and personality.  Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses in each of these areas. 

Think about short stories from work, school and volunteer experiences that you can tell to illustrate your skills in a variety of areas.  Each story should be about 3 - 4 sentences in length and tell something about you that is of value to the interviewer.

  • What have I gained from past work experiences, academic programs and other activities?
  • What are my strong and weak points?
  • What are my short term and long term career goals?
  • What do I have to offer the employer?
  • What kinds of supervisor do I like and why?
  • Use relevant stories to illustrate your answers.
  • Book a career assessment to determine your skills and interests and how they relate to the world of work.
  • Ask friends and family members to help identify your top strengths and challenges.

Know about the job you're applying for. This includes the specific job, and generally about the industry and field of work.

  • Understand the job posting.
  • Check if your interests and abilities compare to the requirements of the position.
  • Read articles written by people who are in the field.
  • Inform yourself about future trends in the industry.
  • Find out the average income earned by people in the occupation.
  • Conduct informational interviews – talk to people in the field and those who do the job to get the scoop.
  • Search through the National Occupational Classification Index for main duties, educational requirements and occupations classified similarly.
  • Talk to friends and relatives.

RESEARCH: The Organization
It is easier to convince an employer that you would be of benefit to the organization if you are knowledgeable about it.  Also, researching an organization can help you decide whether you want to work there.

  • How old is the organization and what is its history of development?
  • What are its products or services?
  • If the organization sells, what are its markets?  Retailers?  Wholesalers?
  • Is it a public or non-profit organization?  What purpose does it serve?  How is it funded? Whom does it serve?  What functions does it perform?
  • How does this organization rank in the industry?
  • What is the financial status of the company? Last year’s sales?  Growth record?
  • Are there any plans for expansion?
  • What is the organizational structure?
  • What problems does the organization need to overcome? (By identifying the problems that the organization faces, you can match your abilities to these ends during the interview.)
  • Where to look online: the Organization's website, annual reports, newsgroups, professional associations, newspaper articles, local Chamber of Commerce.

Who to talk to: attend Career Nights, information sessions and job fairs to speak to people currently working in the organization.