October 13, 2020
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You’ve scoured the company website, memorized the firm’s mission and vision, reviewed the annual 10k report and read the company press releases. Now, what? You can Google, Google, Google galore. But without some sort of organizing protocol, the mere thought of memorizing dozens of dizzying company factoids can overwhelm the best of us. These three C’s can help candidates impress in any job interview. 

#1 Competitors

Does Häagen Dazs compete with Breyer’s? Not really. Yes, both companies make delicious ice cream, but only one stands out as a premium brand. 

Approaching an interview with either firm thinking that these two directly compete will send a clear message to the interviewer that you have not completed the most basic homework assignment. Candidates need to research competitors appropriately. Häaagen-Dazs competes with other premium brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Dove and Godiva. But what exactly should one know about competitors? At a minimum, candidates should be aware of competitor business models.

For example, do you want to work for PepsiCo? Coca Cola operates under a franchise business model. Coca Cola makes syrup and the bottling partner franchisees make soda. In sharp contrast, Pepsi has a distinctly different business model. Before going in for an interview with Pepsi, have knowledge of (and be able to articulate) that difference. 

#2 Competency

A firm’s core competency is “the thing” the company does better than anyone else. It’s the “thing” that gives the firm its competitive advantage. 

Walmart’s core competency is supply chain management, which is why Walmart can offer consumers “the lowest prices.” But, when you walk into a Target, one cannot help but notice that items look trendy and stylish. Target is better than any other peer retailer at making inexpensive items look fabulous because Target’s core competency is mass merchandising or the activity of presenting goods.

Candidates should be able to drill down and identify a company’s core competency. For obvious reasons, no website would ever widely broadcast such information, so understanding a company’s core competency can take a bit of analyzing. Yet, armed with this insight, applicants can intelligently discuss a firm’s pain points with hiring managers.

#3 CEO 

We feel an immediate connection with someone who acknowledges a salient point in our personal history. In the same way/vein, knowing something about a firm’s history and current leadership is important and can be key to opening the door a bit wider. While you might not ever use this information directly in a job interview, you should research the founder, owner, managing director or CEO of a particular organization. 

Much like thank you notes and eye contact, robust company research will help candidates leave a positive, lasting impression with prospective employers. So, if you are heading into another socially distant weekend spent largely in front of the television with just one episode of Ozark left, take a minute to whet your appetite (or something else?) for company research. Visit Hoover’s, First Research or any of the other robust databases available through the Fox CSPD Canvas course.

Visit foxcspd@temple.edu for assistance. Your future is as important to us as it is to you.

Janis Moore Campbell, PhD, is senior director of the Center for Student Professional Development at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. Campbell advises students and professionals on the hidden rules of engagement in workplace settings. Her research examines faculty use of syllabi to socialize students into discourse communities. According to Campbell, teach and learn are two sides of the same coin: “Everyone is our teacher.”

Business ModelCenter for Student Professional DevelopmentCEOCompany ResearchCompetencyCompetitorsJanis Moore CampbellJob InterviewJob MarketJob SearchLeadershipResearch