Brooks C. Mendell, Ph.D.

    Author of: Loving Trees is Not Enough:

                      Communication Skills for Natural Resource Professionals

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Book Excerpt

From Chap. 3 on Negotiation...
Telephone negotiations, like telephone interviews, tend to be shorter and may produce additional misunderstandings. Risk comes with speed. Without the benefit of body language and eye contact, both parties have difficulty perceiving inclinations or commitment.

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Number 3, March 2007



Preparing for a Job Interview: Learning About a Company


Successful job interviews result from proper preparation.  This includes doing research about the job and company; practicing answers to questions you will likely be asked; and following through on expected interview etiquette and practices.  

Two years ago, I interviewed a job candidate who began by telling me he wanted the job because he needed the money and that he would be willing to relocate because he was planning to leave his wife.  (True story.)  This is not a recommended strategy.

Remember, the ultimate goal of a job interview is to receive a job offer. Through proper preparation, you give yourself every opportunity for being successful. And this preparation starts with research about the company.

To quickly become conversant on a company, follow these three steps:

1. Work the internet. Visit the company website, if they have one, and then “Google” the company name.  Today, if a firm does not have a website, it is either too small, technologically out-of-touch, or extremely private.  Small logging or manufacturing businesses may not have a compelling need to maintain a website. As a result, learning about small private firms depends on contacting industry trade associations and people you know.  For public companies, the websites provide one-stop-shopping for learning about products, services, locations, current events, and financial performance.

2. For publicly-traded firms, read the annual report.  While annual reports vary in quality, they provide excellent overviews of what a company does and how (and if) it makes money.  Read the introductory letter by the CEO first. It goes without saying that the letter should be read with a grain of salt, but it is an excellent source for quickly learning what is important to the company and major positive and negative developments that occurred in the previous year.

3. Talk to people.  For large firms in the forest industry, we often know someone who works for the firm, worked for the firm, interviewed with the firm, knows people at the firm, contracts with the firm, works for a competitor of the firm, or is a customer of the firm.  When we put “contacts” into this context, we realize that we have more access to perspectives and first-hand information than we first realized.

While preparing, it helps to consider the point of view of the firms and managers you will interview with.  They waded through reams of resumes and cover letters to identify the highest potential candidates for interviews.  Should you make that final list, you MUST be familiar with the company. If you cannot articulate why you want to work for this company, it indicates that you are not prepared.  This is entirely avoidable.  Be prepared and follow the three steps suggested above for learning about a company prior to any job interview. 


The Loving Trees Newsletter.  Copyright © 2007 Brooks C Mendell.  All rights reserved. We welcome sharing this newsletter in whole or in part if properly cited and attributed.