‘Know your enemy’ – Interview success the Sun Tzu way

‘It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.’ – Sun Tzu

It is fairly obvious that it is imperative you know your cv intimately and that you have compiled a mental catalogue of neat structured examples to demonstrate clearly defined competencies.

However, this is only half the battle

But what of knowing your enemy? Certainly you have reviewed and researched the company’s website and done your homework, but to sustain the metaphor have you given the same level of thought to your opposite number, the individual warrior who will confront you directly in battle? I am of course talking about your interviewer.

Sure, for assessment centres, companies are likely not to know much in advance who exactly will be assessing you or perhaps will be unwilling to tell you. However, for individual interviews you are likely to know who to ask for at reception or should at least inquire as to who you will be seeing. For my interview next Friday with a technology consultancy I know exactly who will be interviewing me, and I know what practice area he sits within and what his background is.

Therefore, I have an inkling as to what he might quiz me on, what he is most knowledgeable about and therefore what he might find most interesting to discuss. I’ll certainly swot up on his specialism slightly more than the other two areas I’m being interviewed for. In this way, I should hope to control the interview a little more than if I go into it without this information.

Additionally, I have some relevant questions prepared particularly since I’ve found out my interviewer used to work for a company I recently had an assessment centre with. Possible rapport-builder?

Intelligence gathering

  1. Company’s website search of interviewer’s name
  2. Google search (people’s favourite)
  3. Linked in (I love linked in)
  4. Facebook
  5. Any relevant contacts you have

Of all the sources above, Linked in is always my first port of call as it, in my opinion, has the best quality professional profile information out there and has served me well on more than many occasions.

Now go win a hundred battles.

Relevant posts: Linkedin grad guide-get networking

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One response to “‘Know your enemy’ – Interview success the Sun Tzu way

  1. carteblancheleeway

    Yes understanding your interview is important and LinkedIn is the best tool for the same. Linked and other networking sites can be used for learning about the company and prospective career path. I have illustrated the same at my blog. http://carteblancheleeway.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/understanding-your-prospective-employer/

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