When you’ve got a job interview coming up, it’s easy to spend time rehearsing answers to potential interview questions and crafting a few of your own. However, doing research on the organization you are about to interview with will allow you to assess whether the organization is right for you, ask better questions during the interview, and help you craft better answers, as you’ll be able to articulate how you’ll fit in into the organization and help it advance its goals.
So as you rehearse answers to potential questions, consider these five additional ways to prepare for your interview.
The organization’s mission and vision
You might have an idea of what the organization does (for example, providing after school programs to teenagers) but you should also know why it does this work (to close the achievement gap) and the organization’s values (direct communication, including parents in decision making). Having this key background information will allow you to better explore your role and experience in helping the organization fulfill its mission.
The organization’s recent achievements and news
A quick Google search or review of the organization’s “press room” might yield helpful information on the organization’s successes and challenges, and what this means for your role. For example, if a major grant was recently awarded, how does this grant affect the organization’s future goals and programs? Conversely, you might stumble across unsavory news about the organization — say, a leader that was asked to step down. In this case, what does this reveal about the organization’s culture and their plans for change internally?
The organization’s field and unique position
No organization is an island. Going back to our earlier example of a nonprofit that provides after school programs, what’s happening in education and out-of-school programming in general that might affect their work? Who are other key players in the field that the organization might be aware of? And what makes this organization distinct from others? You might not be able to gather all of this information from an internet search, but even a little data can give you greater context about the environment in which the organization is working and help you think of better questions.
The organization’s community and employees
Who will you be working with? What community are you serving? How do employees and constituents view and engage with the organization? Look on LinkedIn for past employees to see if they would be willing to chat with you about their experiences. If the organization has events, stop by to see how they engage with their community. This kind of information goes a long way to helping you determine organizational culture and how you’ll fit in.
We know that hiring managers use social media to research candidates. What will they find if they were to search for you? (Personally, I have had hiring managers bring up an article I wrote or make note of my social media presence during an interview!) Be prepared to answer questions about your social media presence or personal brand during an interview.