We met for lunch to discuss potential internship opportunities, as well as paid positions as the company develops a new product and department in my city.
It went well – really well. And it only took a few minutes time to make it all happen.
Resources for Owning an Interview
The internet has made everything easier than it used to be. Studying up for interviews is absolutely included in this list of things made easier.
Here are just a few of the things I read and investigated before going to the interview:
- Form 10-Q – This is valuable for any job with any publicly-traded company, or with any company that has publicly-traded competitors. The Form 10-Q is a quarterly report of business operations and accounting information related to the most previous quarter. In it, you find the company’s business model, as well as additional information that can make you look like Einstein in an interview setting. Look specifically at the risks stated in the 10-Q about the business itself. This is a great way to know about all the emerging products or services in your potential employer’s industry. Businesses are required to list additional risks like exchange rate fluctuations or potential supply chain disruptions. If you see this stated risk, you know the firm is international in some respect. Find out how, where, and why.
- Conference calls – I listened to a conference call between investors and the company’s senior members. This is an excellent way to catch up on the history of the firm in 20 minutes of questions and answers. Analysts are always quick to probe executives as to what is going on when and where. In particular, they want to know if the previous goals set by the firm are still in place today. (i.e. Is the new expansion in XYZ place still in the works?) This is also a good way to know a lot more about a firm than what you read in the press.
- Wikipedia – If it’s a big company, it has a Wikipedia page. If it’s huge, the founder has a Wikipedia page. You would be an absolute fool not to learn about all the key executives that work for a firm, their story, and the story of the company.
- Google News – Again, search the company name to find new and emerging products and services the company is rolling out.
Pro Tip: Yahoo Finance makes it really easy to find 10-Q filings for any company.
Pro Tip: You can find conference calls on a company’s website in the “Investor Relations” section. Alternatively, search SeekingAlpha for a transcript of the company’s most recent conference call.
Pro Tip: Searching Google News for the company name as well as the words “press release” is a good way to drill down to get all their most recent releases about the company’s activity.
Wait – You’re Not Supposed to Ask THAT!
A few minutes into the interview I was asked point-blank if I had visited the company’s website. Now, usually this is something employers ask about indirectly by testing your knowledge of the company. It caught me off-guard – to be asked this question directly is an indication that others the manager had spoken to had not bothered to do even most basic research.
Later, he lamented that I was “talking on a whole different level” compared to others interviewees. Don’t get me wrong, I will take a compliment any way it comes, but I felt undeserving. All I had to do was use Google to read about the company and the business model to beat the others?
I mean, are you kidding me? That would be considered cheating in school, lazy to my professors, and merely resourceful at work.
Let’s make something very clear – this is a financial firm and I prepared by casually perusing their public financial statements. At least 95% of the people who would show up to an interview would be finance and accounting majors. Accounting and finance majors know what a financial statement is…I hope.
It’s Easy to Get any Job You Want
Now I get it – despite the long-run benefits of employment, the short-run costs apparently appear too high. A job is just a job, right? Who cares about being employable?
I can’t imagine not preparing for an interview. I’m not one to get stressed, but this might just make me pull my hair out. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the hour’s time I put into learning about the company and it’s business put me in a much better position than others. Until I experience something to lead me to the contrary, I’m going to keep on using the above resources for any interview or sales call.
What resources have you used to give you a leg up in an interview?
Do people really go into interviews completely unprepared?
Photo by: Earls37a