Preparation can make all the difference between a decent interview and a job offer. Based on my experience, one of the most significant candidate weaknesses is a lack of preparation. While this is most evident in candidates entering the work force, it’s still evident in candidates at all experience levels. In this information-rich environment there is no excuse for showing up at an interview unprepared.
Informed candidates ask better questions; they don’t waste valuable interview time asking questions that are easily answered with some research. Taking time to prepare builds your personal brand.
Linked In is a great research tool; however many don’t use it to its full potential. Here are a few tips.
First optimize your Linked In Presence
Make sure your profile is fully complete. Linked In refers to this as All-Star profile strength. Here is a brief video that explains the process. https://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/53724/bid/28/pid/27
There are five profile strength levels:
Members with robust profiles, All-Star status, are more likely to be noticed because it appears the Linked In algorithms take this status into account; I say appears because Linked In will not officially acknowledge how their algorithms work.
Instead of using a standard title, in the title space use key words that people would use to search for you. Consider the title box space as valuable Linked In real estate for advertising your key words; this helps people find you.
Linked In does a good job of guiding you through the process of adding content. There is a graphic image in the right margin that indicates your current status level, and often the software will guide you by making specific suggestions to help you get to the next level.
Optimizing your profile is only the first step. Next you’ll want to establish your presence by being active.
Being active means you are:
- Increasing your network by adding connections
- Making introductions, helping others connect
- Sharing content and ideas through your own updates, and by sharing, liking and commenting on the updates of others
Being active doesn’t require daily participation, in fact some experts believe three or four updates a week is sufficient. Like any good networking strategy, the time to build it is before you really need it.
Now that you have a good Linked In foundation what’s next? How does Linked In help with your search?
Start with Linked In connections
Check to see if any of your connections are employed or have been employed at the company you are researching. Are any of your connections affiliated with the company; for example, consultants or suppliers?
If you have connections associated with the company, study their profile carefully. Look for industry groups, conferences, awards, and/or organizations that might provide industry or company specific intelligence.
Linked In company page
Visit the companies Linked In company page and any supporting pages. This page will show a list of people associated with the company. Visit their profiles and see if you can discover any of the items I listed above. One word of caution here, take note of how the company maintains the site. Does the page seem to be maintained and kept current? If not, look for other resources.
Linked In Groups
Linked In groups fall into one of two categories; open or closed. Visit open industry groups. Ask to join closed groups where appropriate. Once in a group study the interactions and topics for issues, challenges and ideas. Use this content to help formulate questions for the interview.
If you are familiar with the industry and a member of these types of groups, then search the group membership to see if any of the company’s associates are members.
Use Linked In Search and Advanced Search
Take advantage of Linked In’s powerful Search technology. Based on your research, plug in industry terms. These terms may lead you to people, companies or groups that might be helpful in gathering intelligence. The Linked In Help Center https://help.linkedin.com/app/home has resources to explain in more detail. Search for company specific terms; identify challenges and issues in regarding the company.
There is a popular myth that suggests 80% of life is just showing up. While that may be true for life it’s not the case for interview preparation. Whether it’s sports, presentations, or most any meaningful endeavor, preparation usually has a profound influence on outcomes. Don’t squander an interview opportunity due to lack of preparation.