How to Prepare for Interviews (Part 2 of 5): Researching Your Interviewers (w/ Live Client Call) | Life In Tech by Bessy Tam

How to Prepare for Interviews (Part 2 of 5): Researching Your Interviewers (w/ Live Client Call)

Published on 29 December 2020 by Bessy Tam | Filed in Interview & Informational Chats

So today we'll be talking about part 2 of the 5-part series, how to prepare for interviews.

And today we'll be talking about how to research interviewers in order to:

  1. bring up the right experiences
  2. understand what they're looking for in an ideal candidate
  3. and build rapport with them to have an natural conversation so that it doesn't seem very forced. 

In this video, we'll be talking about 3 key strategies when it comes to researching or preparing for interviews

I'll also have a video from a live client call that I had with one my readers, to show you exactly how I would approach it. 

If you're interested in learning more about how to best prepare for interviews (especially for behavioral questions) and what to expect for interviews with 43+ real example questions, then feel free to subscribe and get the 25-pg Ultimate Interview Prep Guide here for free!

3  Strategies to Research Your Interviewers

#1 Topics to "Chit-Chat"

So the first portion is researching topics to chit chat.

This is the first 5 to 15 minutes of your 30 to 45 minute interview.

This is super important because it allows you to:

  • establish rapport
  •  build a strong foundation that levels both of you
  • and allows you to have a two way conversation instead of a one way intimidating one.

This is something I learned in the book, how to win friends and influence people. 

And so how do you actually do this? You want to look at three things:

First is their LinkedIn or their professional profile.

It allows you to understand who do they follow? How do they talk about themselves or their work? These are things that you can check out in their activity as well.

Things you can look for:

  1. other companies they came from
  2. number of years they worked in their current company
  3. pages/companies they follow
  4. school they went to
  5. places they've been (look at the location for different jobs they had & schools they've attended)
  6. languages they speak
  7. email or how they describe their work - search for "keywords" eg. "data driven", "reliable", "product", "marketing". This is their "self identity"
  8. college subjects or major/minors
  9. interactions with other people under "See all activity" - who are those people, what are their roles?
  10. Their "story line" how they've transitioned from different companies and what that tells you (what was a transitional point? what is still a recurring theme?)

Secondly, you want to search them online

Secondly, you want to search them online to look at articles that have mentioned them, or, you know, articles that they have written themselves in their own blog.

You are definitely able to bring these up and say, "Hey, I've seen that you were mentioned by X, Y, Z article. I thought it was really cool." It's  natural to be researching interviewers anyway, so you want to bring these up to show that you've done your homework 

Lastly, you want to search for their social media

You don't want to specifically mention you saw on their Facebook that they have a cat or have a dog, but maybe during interviews you can mention, "Hey, we're working from home. Do you have any pets?"Or "Where was the last place you visited" (if they like to travel) or "what's your favorite restaurant?" (if they enjoy trying different foods).

You can bring up anything you've seen during your research on a high level that's very lighthearted. This way, you can redirect the conversation to make sure the topics are relevant to them like a friend

The key thing is not to rush the chit-chat part. 

As a next step, grab your notebook that you'll bring to the interview to take notes on. Write out their name, the time of the interview, their role, and also 3 things that you notice that they're interested in.

These points can include  food, travel, or countries they are from.

#2 Their Role

Secondly, you want to look at their role and how it relates to your target role that you're interviewing for.

This is super important, because you want to understand:

  • What's in it for them?
  • Why do they care about the success of this role?
  • How does this ladder up to their success?

First, you want to look at their role

What do they do? How do they describe their role and how does it relate to the wider company structure?

If they're a high level of director, obviously they care about the growth of the team, depending on different roles that they manage within the company.

Second, you want to look at their description:

  •  how they described their role, what kind of impact they're bringing to the company? Is it sales? Is it revenue?
  • What kind of metrics they care about?
  • How does that actually ladder up to your role?

You know, if it's a hiring manager, how many team members do they have? What are their targets? How does your role solve their challenges?

This comes to the third portion, which is something that I addressed in part one. If you haven't seen the video in part 1 and feel free to do so, but it's something I call it informal chats or coffee chats. 

Third, research their team (through calls)

You have to be able to chat with other people within the company and ask them about  the interviewers

You can circle back to people you've talked to and ask questions like:

  • have you heard anything about them?
  • Do you know anything about them?
  • Have you worked with them?
  • What do they care about, etc

Because you've already done the homework in Part 1 of the Interview Preparation with the informal chats, you are able to circle back to them.

Even one informal chat will be able to influence your wider interview strategy


#3 Anticipate Interview Questions

Last but not least, you want to look at questions or categories that they're going to be asking in a panel of 3-5 interviewers.

They will each have generally 1-2 categories that they're looking for, or they're going to ask about:

  • leadership
  •  problem solving
  • role related responsibilities
  • and culture fit.

If somebody comes from a finance background and jumped into this company before knowing this in your LinkedIn research, you'd be able to address, "Hey, they actually have a finance background, maybe I'll need to double down on my numbers and data points for this person when I answer their questions."

If somebody is a director or a higher-level person, they might actually care more about the strategy, asking you questions such as:

  •  What is your vision for the product roadmap?
  • What are the wider challenges or industry trends that you're seeing

Questions from directors and VPs are a lot more macro.

Now this type of research  also comes with the other side of things which is: What kind of questions do you want to ask them?

 Generally, I go with the rule of thumb of these 3:

  1.  What is your challenges when it comes to this company and what you're looking at?
  2. what is your vision for this team and company and how does my role ladder up to that?
  3. What is your ideal candidate? And is there anything missing from my experiences that would stop me from being a good candidate?

So these are three main questions that I would ask. If you know their deep industry background because of your research, you can ask deeper questions such as "How has your experience in XYZ company evolved and changed your perspective in this industry that helped you succeed in your current role?"

Because you've done this research, you're able to dig deeper into questions that they may or may not expect.

If you want to get real examples of how I would approach this interview prep, feel free to check out the video where I go through a live research call with one of my clients.

If you want to kick start your interview prep journey, I have my Ultimate Interview Prep Guide here to show you exactly the top strategies and 43 specific questions that are commonly asked within interviews.

Want to learn more about how to ace interviews in tech? Download the free guide below

Let me know in the comments below or in the video, how this article and strategy has helped you answer "Why do you want to join this company?" well. Even better, tell me how its helped you ace your interview or land your dream job!

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About the Author

Bessy Tam is a career coach who helps busy professionals get into their dream non-tech job in tech. She’s helped dozens of clients get interviews and offers from companies such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Lyft, Amazon, Babbel, & More. She currently works at Google in Chicago.

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