Background Research: The Key to Preparing for an Interview

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You’ve just been invited to interview for your dream job. After the initial excitement wears off, for many life sciences professionals there comes a sense of impending dread. Do you feel confident that you can ace an interview? What steps would you go through to get prepared for the interview? It’s common for people to feel overconfident about their skills, background and overall interviewing ability. This can lead to having underwhelming interviews, with long awkward pauses that don’t yield job offers.

A recent BioSpace survey of organizations asked, “What would you like to see improve on the candidate’s end when going through the recruiting/interviewing process?” 65% of respondents selected “background research/learn to inform themselves on the company.” This was somewhat surprising because many jobs within life sciences industries are research focused. So why aren’t many candidates bringing that same skillset to the interviewing process? It’s highly possible that beyond the basics, many professionals don’t know what they should be researching. Here are some of the key areas to research when preparing for an interview.

Company / Organization- Obtaining background information on the company you’re applying with, is what most people think of when it comes to interview research. How long has the organization been in existence? What are their primary products and services? Who are their main competitors in the marketplace? What major changes has the organization gone through in the last few years? Being up to date on the company will set you apart from a large percentage of other candidates.

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Industry- You can take your research a step further by diving into the details of what’s going on in the organization’s industry. Have there been any regulatory changes or new laws put in effect? How do they rank amongst their competitors? Are they considered a leader in the industry? If you can speak to how the company relates to the industry, your interviewer will know that you are serious about the opportunity to work for the company. Asking follow-up questions about the organization’s standing in the industry also shows that you can be a big picture thinker.

Current Events- What current events are going on in the news that could impact the success of the company? Are there any international situations that might influence the productivity or revenue of the organization? Being aware of what’s going on nationally and globally, positions you as a serious professional who can think critically about the company. Inquiring about how a current event might affect the organization, displays a deeper level of understanding about the business.

Your Value Proposition- Now that you’ve done all of this fact-finding, putting it together in a way to support your candidacy for the job is ideal. In knowing all that you’ve found out about the company, how are you the best fit for the job? Are your research and investigative skills stellar? Have you been successful during times of change? What about you is different than the other professionals being considered? Focus on your unique value proposition that supports your understanding of the organization’s position in the marketplace.

According to a BioSpace survey of companies, 65% indicated that job candidates could improve on “background research/learn to inform themselves on the company.” There is a wealth of information including news and specific profiles on the BioSpace website. Finding details on the organization that you’re applying for and their industry is important. Reviewing current events that might influence operations and/or strategy of the company is also a good idea. Finally, incorporating what you’ve learned into your own unique value proposition for the job can leave a lasting impression on your interviewer. What is one area you’d like to research before your next job interview?

Porschia Parker is a Certified Coach, Professional Resume Writer, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. (https://www.fly-highcoaching.com) She empowers ambitious professionals and motivated executives to add $10K on average to their salaries.

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