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More. It’s what you need to do if you are going to get the job over the next person. Here’s how you can do it.

You have the date, time and place lined up. Congrats. You’ve made it past step one, but you are not exactly on the payroll yet now, are you, Sparky?

Assuming you want to end up there, go the extra steps to research the employer and anyone you’ll be interviewing with ahead of time. This involves more than just looking up a Web site. Read on.

For starters, be able to confidently answer the following questions:

What business is the company truly in?What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the company today?How does the outside world view this employer?What is the basic history of this company?Does the company’s future appear to be positive?Is it a local, national or global employer?What is the job title of the position you are interviewing for?Where does this position sit on the organizational chart, if there even is one?Does this appear, on the surface at least, to be an opportunity that could propel you closer to your career ideal?What do you know about the interviewer(s) on both professional and personal levels?You’ll find a lot of answers on the company Web site, of which every serious company today sports. Read it carefully to get a feel for how the company wants itself to be presented to the outside world. What is its organizational personality? Who are its main players? What are its top priorities and vision statement? Do its actions appear to support them?

Check to see if your interviewer has a bio somewhere on the site. How are they doing financially in the world according to them? You can get a lot of answers to help you form a mental picture of the company’s makeup by spending some quality time here.

The company site only tells the employer’s side, however. You’ll want to surf other sites as well. For example, what do other sources write about the company? Good things or not? And who are they in relationship to the company? Does the company appear to be heavily involved in the local community? If so, are you connected to the same people to whom they are connected? Is it active nationally? Globally?

Note the date of any postings you come across. You don’t want to form critical interviewing strategy based on outdated or bogus information, both of which proliferate mightily on the Internet. (But I saw it on the Internet, it must be true, right?!)

Low-tech research continues to be surprisingly effective, and this means your investigation shouldn’t be limited to the Internet. Talk to employees who work for the company to get the real dirt on how things operate. Talk to their customers or clients. Get both sides of the story, but be discreet in your inquiries.

Sounds like you should get a paycheck for trying to land the darn job, doesn’t it?

After you’ve accumulated a decent bit of research, it’s time to synthesize the info. Make notes of your own to help you form a visual snapshot of the company and its employees. Rely on your gut instincts. (Never underestimate the gut). During the process, think about what it is you want out of the job as well and add it to the mix. Identify what you have in common with the employer and be able to effectively introduce those items into a conversation during the interview.

Take it a step even further and develop your own ideas about how you could contribute to the well-being of the company. If those concepts are thoughtful and relevant, offer them up during the interview, assuming the timing is right. Other candidates won’t make the effort to do this. It’s too much work. Too bad for them. It will be the thing that puts your name on the company payroll over theirs.

Janet I. Farley is the author of "The Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide" and "The Military Spouse’s Complete Guide to Career Success." Her column appears monthly in Stars and Stripes. She can be contacted at: janetfarley@hotmail.com


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