Skip to main content
Portrait of Liesl

Liesl Jurock

SFU Co-op Coordinator

empty
Windows on Unsplash
Showcase what you know to prove your keen interest and that you are the person they want on their team.

I’m sitting in front of an interview panel with six Environment Canada staff. The man in the suit at the centre of the panel asks me, “What are BC’s biggest environmental issues?”

My mind is blank, yet six pairs of eyes are staring at me to say something. “Er,” I stumble, “it rains a lot?”

The panel responds with tight-lipped smiles, thinking I am joking, but when they see I really don’t know, the mood in the room shifts substantially. As the man proceeds to outline our province’s true environmental concerns, I know the interview is over. But as a federal government process, they must continue to run through all the questions for the sake of equity. Needless to say, I want to die.

Because of that excruciating ordeal applying for my first co-op job 15 years ago, I never again failed to do my homework before an interview. In fact, I’ve found that research is often the best way to win at the job interview game. Here are five areas to explore before your big day:

1. The Organization

  • Read their website, but go beyond the mission statement and review press releases to find out the latest news, look at organizational charts to understand their structure, and make sure you can talk about how their products or services meet people’s needs.
  • Visit their location so you get a feel for the place and can pick up their brochures or annual report to study.

2. The Clients/Customers

  • Think from the end user’s point of view. If you can read client reviews or connect with someone who’s been served by them, even better.
  • If applicable, buy and try the organization’s products or try out their services and prepare your own (positively-framed) opinions to offer.

3. The People

  • If you know anyone who knows someone in the company, track them down and ask them for coffee so they can give you an insider view.
  • Use social media to find out more about the company’s staff. Check for profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter and try to make a connection.

4. The Issues

  • What are the latest trends in the organization’s industry? What are the policies that govern their work? What challenges may they be facing? Scan the news, applicable blogs, and industry websites for clues.
  • Don’t make my mistake! Know and be able to talk about the issues that the organization is dealing with.

5. The Job Description

  • Dissect the responsibilities outlined and the skills required so you really understand what’s being asked.
  • Create a chart listing everything they want and everything you can offer. Where there are gaps, make sure you have an idea of how you will get up to speed.

In the end, remember that all the research in the world won’t help if you don’t know how to work it into your interview. Practice, practice, practice - run through questions with a friend or the mirror and play with how to incorporate your research. Showcase what you know to prove your keen interest and that you are the person they want on their team. Good luck!

About the Author

Portrait of Liesl

Liesl Jurock

SFU Co-op Coordinator

You Might Like These... Interviews, Professional Development

Handshaking
To Shake or Not to Shake? “Sick Handshake” Etiquette

Going to an interview used to be so simple. What could be easier? Well, maybe a lot of things, but at least steps 1 through 4 were pretty straightforward. Right? I mean, what could possibly go wrong with introducing yourself and shaking hands?

Helen shaking hands with another person
Find Out About Informational Interviews

There was a time when I didn’t know what informational interviews were. Little did I know that I could contact people who had positions that sounded interesting and ask about what they did! Can you imagine how shocked I was when I found out, I wondered why would anyone want to help me?

David
Working For the Feds: An Interview with CIDA’s Executive Vice President, David Moloney

Read about David Moloney, the Executive Vice President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and someone who "“…can’t decide what he wants to do when he grows up,” as he shares with us his experience working in government.  

Windows on Unsplash
library_books
Blog
Research Your Way to Winning the Job Interview Game
Interviews, Student Success, Professional Development, Research

I’m sitting in front of an interview panel with six Environment Canada staff. The man in the suit at the centre of the panel asks me, “What are BC’s biggest environmental issues?” My mind is blank, yet six pairs of eyes are staring at me to say something. “Er,” I stumble, “it rains a lot?”

Windows on Unsplash
library_books
Blog
Research Your Way to Winning the Job Interview Game
Interviews, Student Success, Professional Development, Research

I’m sitting in front of an interview panel with six Environment Canada staff. The man in the suit at the centre of the panel asks me, “What are BC’s biggest environmental issues?” My mind is blank, yet six pairs of eyes are staring at me to say something. “Er,” I stumble, “it rains a lot?”

Windows on Unsplash
library_books
Blog
Research Your Way to Winning the Job Interview Game
Interviews, Student Success, Professional Development, Research

I’m sitting in front of an interview panel with six Environment Canada staff. The man in the suit at the centre of the panel asks me, “What are BC’s biggest environmental issues?” My mind is blank, yet six pairs of eyes are staring at me to say something. “Er,” I stumble, “it rains a lot?”

Windows on Unsplash
library_books
Blog
Research Your Way to Winning the Job Interview Game
Interviews, Student Success, Professional Development, Research

I’m sitting in front of an interview panel with six Environment Canada staff. The man in the suit at the centre of the panel asks me, “What are BC’s biggest environmental issues?” My mind is blank, yet six pairs of eyes are staring at me to say something. “Er,” I stumble, “it rains a lot?”

You Might Like These... Interviews

Ivy Choi
The Pre-Interview Pep-Talk You Never Knew You Needed

Landing the interview is a big and the first step towards experiences that will help you throughout your working life. Here are some of Ivy's top tips on pre-interview preparations. 

sun peaking through the trees
10 Tips on How to Navigate the Hiring Process: An Insider's Perspective

Nisha’s second work term as a curriculum and programming assistant on a hiring committee for Career and Volunteer Services made her realize that with so many qualified candidates, decisions are sometimes based on the tiniest details. Here are Nisha’s 10 tips for how to stand out from other candidates and the reasons why employer’s value them.

SFU students smiling at a networking event
Professional Attire Edition

T-shirt? Jeans? Flip-flops? Sneakers? Confused about what you should wear for your job interview, work or to a networking event? No fear! Read on “What Not to Wear: Professional Attire Edition” to find out how to dress to impress and for success…