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Research - It Makes a Difference

It was in an interview during March of 1999 when Al Gore stated that he took the initiative for creating the internet.  Since its creation (regardless of who created it), we have had access to an amazing amount of information.  And we can access the information in milliseconds!  Most of our searches come back with thousands of results in less than 1 second.  (A search for Al Gore this morning took .31 seconds and came back with 414,000 results.)

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

I have said this many times before - in this Blog and beyond.  We judge people quickly (and often unfairly). Regardless of this fairness, people are judged in many interactions.

How does research make a difference?

We recently had a candidate that was asked during an interview if he knew the interviewers background.  A simple question; maybe even an unusual or egotistical question.  I have asked it before in networking meetings to see if the person had done any basic preparation.

It is the answer that potentially sets the tone for the rest of the meeting. In the interview referenced above, the interviewer made the decision to NOT pursue based on the answer. The candidate did not know the background of the interviewer.

How much research should a person perform?

When I worked in the career transition/outplacement industry (pre-internet as we know it today), we used to send people to the library - still a great place to visit. (There are countless directories, databases and publications that are not fully available on the internet without a subscription.) We suggested that for each interview the candidate had scheduled, they needed 2 - 4 hours of interview preparation. This preparation was a combination of interview practice and research on the company, industry, function and person.

It's easier today . . . . . at least it is when it comes to research. Imagine if the above-referenced candidate had simply 'googled' the interviewer's name and read a bio prior to the interview. The outcome would have been different. The 2 - 4 hours of research time per interview may not have been necessary, but even 30 minutes on the company, industry, function and person would do the job.

What should you research?

The list is simple:

  • The organization - it's history, products and services
  • The competition
  • Recent trends and news reports
  • Company reputation (start with Glassdoor and expand)
  • The person you are meeting with - find a recent bio
  • The person who was in the role (if applicable)

Why spend the time?

The answer comes from a sub-title above:

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.