In this new employment series, Frontline Recruitment details doing your homework before meeting with a prospective employer.

There’s nothing worse than turning up to an interview not knowing anything about the company and its culture. Being unprepared for a job interview is likely to let you down, no matter how skilled you are or how extensive your retail experience is.

It’s wise to acquaint yourself with as many different aspects of the company or store as possible before facing your interviewers.

You can then show how well you fit the prevailing culture and what an asset you would be to the organisation.
So how do you do your company research?

Start with the mission or vision statement

Go to the company’s website and find their mission statement. This will tell you what is important to the organisation and what it hopes to achieve.

For instance, the firm, store or chain may be dedicated to environmental and sustainable trade, outstanding customer service or socially inclusive work policies. Once you know what the organisation values, you can show how your own skills and experience will back this up.

Explore the website

Familiarise yourself with the company’s website, paying special attention to ‘about us’ and ‘products and services’ pages.
You need to know as many facts about the firm as possible, including how long it has been running, the goods and services offered, any recent expansion or plans for the future, and workplace practices.

These are all nuggets you can introduce during the interview, either in answer to questions or as proof you have done your homework.

Check out social media

The company’s social media channels contain a wealth of valuable information. While the website is designed to give a more formal and controlled company image, the spontaneity of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn offers interesting glimpses into the reality of working at and trading with the company.

How is the company promoting itself? Is it traditional or progressive? Casual or staged? Is the emphasis on solid promotion or general news and views? Is real engagement being encouraged?

Any information you glean can be used to promote your own cause during the interview.

Google it!

Explore more widely online and see what customers are saying about the company. Check out how the company is shaping up against competitors, and whether it has a reputation for ethical trade.

Find a space during the interview to offer a subtle, well-researched compliment on company practice.

Tailor questions

There is usually time in the interview for you to ask your own questions.

Prepare three or four questions framed around the material you’ve uncovered about the company.

If the chain is about to open a new store in your area, ask if there are any openings there.

You could also ask whether a new product line is proving popular, or whether there’s a chance to learn more about the company’s research into environmentally sustainable products.

It’s essential to do your research before the job interview, so you have the best chance of demonstrating how well you will fit the role and the company. And if you need help finding retail jobs, don’t hesitate to talk to a specialist recruitment agency with years of experience in the industry.

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