The Research You Should Conduct for Each Job Interview - Work in Sports Podcast e149

Wondering what kind of research you should conduct leading up to a job interview? In this Work in Sports podcast episode host Brian Clapp shares seven types of research you should complete for every job interview. 

Hi everybody, I’m Brian Clapp Director of Content for and this is the Work in Sports podcast.

Before I get into today’s fan question – and it’s a good one – I want to talk about our expert interview coming up this Wednesday. Please allow me to get on my soapbox for a moment and whet your appetite for what comes later this in sports podcast with brian clapp

Vincent Pierson is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Minor League Baseball and a guest I was really excited to have on the show. Diversity and Inclusion are really important topics in the world, not just sports, and to have on someone with Vincent’s background and passion was really exciting to me.

But I was also kind of nervous. I admitted to all of you before that I get a little nervous before each interview and sometimes it ramps up a little depending on the guest. For example, Leigh Steinberg – yep, pretty nervous. You don’t want to sound like a dolt…and you also don’t want to throw out cliché questions and just have a superficial conversation.

With Vincent, I was really nervous because of the importance of the conversation. It was less about Vincent per se, and more of a fear my questions wouldn’t take us deep enough. That I’d finish up and think, “damn, that was a missed opportunity, we could have done so much more in this conversation”

Well, the good news is. We went there. We had the difficult conversations, we talked about the important things in life, and how our collective sports world allows for social impact on such a grand scale.

When we published my interview with Mailynh Vu Cleveland Indians Assistant Director of Talent Acquisition, I told you all how excited I was…because she shared really actionable career advice that I knew you could all put to use.

Well, I’m even more excited about this one, but for different reasons. This is so meaningful, so powerful, and so significant…I just cant wait for you all to listen. So stay tuned for that on Wednesday.

As for today – is QA time!

This weeks question comes in from Dave in Tallahassee – Dave writes in:

Hi Brian, big fan of the podcasts and I can’t wait to tune into your Facebook live sessions, what a cool idea to interact with your audience.

[Yes! For those of you that don’t know I run a Facebook Live session from the Work in Sports facebook page – not the podcast group – our company page every Thursday at 7:30pm EST – you should really tune in]

Just curious – you have mentioned many times about researching a company before you have an interview, can you give us some examples on the type of research you should do and how this will help in the process?

Why yes David, I can.

Lets break this down – the idea behind doing research, the over-arching principle, is to feel like you understand the company before you go in the door. The more you can layer in your knowledge and your sense of preparation in the interview process, the more impressive you will be.

So let’s break down some actual research angles and then provide some ways you can naturally work this info into the conversation:

1: How do they make money? 

Sometimes it’s simple – they sell tickets to a game.

Other times it’s more complex – They manage business to business sponsorships deals and help negotiate long term leases at arenas. I don’t know I’m spitballing here.  

But it is essential for your to understanding their products, their likely clients or audience, and their motivation – i.e. how they make money.

Why because that’s the root of every business and it will tell you how the company divisions are weighted. Quick example, when I worked in the sports media I was on the content/editorial side … but I didn’t work any deals, I didn’t bring in any revenue, I covered the teams. Even if I was great at my job I was very replaceable.

Our business survived by how well the sales team did selling ad time during our programming. In the end if I wanted another reporter, and the sales team wanted another sales person – they’d usually win. Our business was driven by sales, and this will likely be the case in most operations.

Now you may say content is a chicken and the egg thing – without our great content we couldn’t sell the ad space. Well, our content only made up about 4 hours a day of programming – there was another 20 hours of content each day that they should sell inventory on…so I was just one piece of a much larger puzzle.

How did I use this knowledge, and how you can you leverage the same type of research?

If I was in an interview now, for a content type job, I would be pitching ideas and also saying how I think sales could sell the content as a naming right. So for example, we could do a weekly behind the scenes with the travel team who gets all the team gear to and from events… and we could get it sponsored by a travel company like expedia or samsonite”

Since I know the HOW they make money I can use that to help sell myself as not just thinking about my role, but being a part of the larger operations success.

2: Know their clients

Who do they work with? Who is their audience? Knowing who they work with tells you a great deal about their culture and who they target for business deals…also it tells you how successful of a company they are for the long haul.

If they have a long term deal to do the marketing for the Minor League baseball – then they are looking good! But if their biggest client is Frank’s Golf Cart repair – maybe not.

Remember – you are interviewing them as well.

Plus, again you can weave in this knowledge to the interview.

Question – “Tell me about a time you closed a really important deal”

Well Bob, this may not be as big of a deal as when you and your team signed Under Armour, but when I was working at…blah blah blah.

These little moments show you’ve done your homework, and aren’t just here because you want a job, it shows you want THIS job  

3: Corporate structure

How is this organization organized? Who is in charge – what is their history with the company? Who will you report to and who do they report to?

The more you can understand the corporate structure and the people filling the roles above you, you’ll know more how the organization operates and who makes the decisions. 

4: In the News and BUZZ

What are people talking about with this business – is it positive? Are they getting good press? Or is there a lawsuit or a negative campaign going on right now?

Again, being able to cite pieces of relevant news about the company, during the interview, is a great way to show off how you’ve thought about this team and done your work.

Slip in that you noticed they broke attendance records last year, or that they won an award for corporate culture, or the CEO was recognized for his leadership in the community --- these moments matter.

5: Company culture/work environment

What are people saying about working here? What’s the expectation of the company…is it a suit and tie kind of place? Or is it a jeans and T-short operation? Do some people work remote?

Figure out if you are a fit by what you learn about their culture.

What’s funny is everyone interprets culture differently – some people WANT a suit wearing stuffy environment – that’s their comfort zone. Other wants a free wheeling ping pong table in the conference room and early happy hours work environment – and most of us want something in between. Get your work done… but don’t be too stuffy about it.

Figure out if this culture fits you!

6: Competitors –

You should know who they compete with, and do some digging into what that company is doing different than the one you are interviewing with.

Imagine yourself saying “I noticed company X has launched a new campaign focused on millennials, how much of a focus does this organization put on the millennial market”

Things of that nature. Work in that you have analyzed who they compete with and how the org you are interviewing with stands out against them.

7: Company history

You should know how the company was started, how they’ve grown, did they relocate form somewhere else, how has their product changed over the years.

All of these little data points will give you a better background into the company and expectations and again. This can be woven into the discussion during your interview.

So many of these research topics are also perfect for follow up questions at the end of an interview.

“I’ve done some of my own research, but I’d love to hear from you who you believe your biggest competitors to be?”

“I noticed the CEO is also a leading figure in the community, does her community involvement help form the culture here?”

Run with it yourself, I’m just spitballing ideas and I’m sure you can do better when you put more specific thought into it… so go get to work. And make sure to listen to Vincent Pierson’s interview on Wednesday!

By Brian Clapp | January 21, 2019
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