The Recruitment Underground Blog

Career Skills, Training and Transitions

The Deadly Faux Pas

Posted by jamesseetoo on August 3, 2009

Well, you’ve made it through the maze of on line applications or did the smart thing and leveraged a contact.  You’re standing in the parking lot about to go into your interview.  You’re in your best interview clothes, relaxed and confident and ready to go in.  You meet the first interviewer in the lobby and give a firm handshake, locking eyes with a steady gaze.  You’ve got copies of your resume ready to go. You slip a breath mint into your mouth just in case.

You’ve got everything you can control under control.

Or do you?

Have you done your homework?  What do you really know about the company, its culture and its goals?

The biggest mistake you can make going into an interview is not researching the company you’re approaching.  Thanks to the Internet there’s an incredible array of information sources you can use to check a company. Obviously public companies are easier to check on than private ones and for private companies you should leverage any contacts you may be able to make through LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.

When researching public companies the first thing I do is go to the company’s investor relations page.  You’ll be able to see how a company is doing and the quarterly earnings calls will tell you where the company sees itself going.  You can also get a lot of information from Yahoo Finance which has the same information as the free version of Hoovers.

Social media has really exploded in this area with people posting on message boards anonymously to talk about their companies.  Naturally most of these posts are complaints but rumor is often news that hasn’t been substantiated yet.  In biotech there’s the Biofind Rumor Mill ( and for other types of businesses there are sites like Jobvent (

The main point is that you should really take the time to find out what the company leadership is saying about the business and where they are taking it.  They usually use buzz words that permeate throughout a company and when you use these in your interview you’re seen as being a good cultural fit.

It reminds me of an episode Tony Bourdain relates in his classic book, “Kitchen Confidential”.  He was interviewing for a job at a steakhouse with someone with a very strong accent and the last question was he thought, “So what do you know about me?” He decided to be honest and said “Nothing.” The question was, “So what do you know about meat?”.

Now obviously you can’t account for accents but you can understand the buzz words and phrases companies use internally. You’ll create tremendous rapport.

Remember, your skills are your job security.


James Seetoo

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One Response to “The Deadly Faux Pas”

  1. Excellent post James.
    So true, people get so caught up with wanting to be “chosen” that they can often overlook the fact that the company is presenting itself honestly and accurately.
    Just like any relationship, the best ones give you enough time and information to build trust.
    Thanks for the insight!

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