Interview Preparation: Industry Reports


by Wim Dodson


Showing up for a job interview armed with information about the industry can help you stand out as a candidate, while helping you choose whether the employer is a good fit.

Market research reports are a source of key insights about the industry you’re interested in working in. The idea behind the reports is that third party professionals whose only job it is is to research and analyze industry trends provide an outside perspective on companies you’d like to research.


Understand the Trends

The kind of information presented in market or industry research reports helps diversity professionals stand out from the crowd of other job seekers vying for a coveted position with a company.

By understanding the market trends buffeting a company you are more readily able to ask pertinent questions that reveal the company’s growth strategy and management’s ability to solve problems. As a consequence you show up as a motivated candidate who asks intelligent questions related to the industry the company is in, which will work in your favor.

Understanding industry trends will also help you decide whether it makes sense for you to continue pursuing a career in the industry, or even to interview for a job with the company.


Make Better Choices

Something job candidates seldom consider when they approach a company for a job is that they are actually an investor. As candidates, it is our job to discover whether a business is worth sinking a piece of our lives into.

Consider approaching companies with which you’re interviewing the same way an investor would consider funding a business. After all, you plan to  invest your time, energy and relationships into an organization.

Industry reports can help inform your questions, giving you the insights you need to dig more deeply into anything that may be a concern. The responses you receive will provide further insight into whether the company is the right investment for you.

For example, let’s say you’ve been working in the personal computer (PC) manufacturing industry. A quick read of a market research report about the industry will tell you sales are plummeting with the advent of mobile computing. The paper will also tell you which players remain in the game and their respective market shares.

From the intelligence you can piece together from the report you have more information from which to decide whether to remain in the field, whether to leverage your experience and education for a career in an adjacent industry, and what companies to target for interviews.


How to Use Industry Reports in Interviews

Let’s say you’re interested in working in the instant noodle industry (it’s an industry I know because I once had to write an exhaustive - and exhausting - analysis of the trend). A report will note the main players in the marketplace, their market shares, what consumers think of their products and the direction in which noodle slurpers are tending with their tastes. Depending on the size of the company with which you are interviewing, you may even find the target company cited in the report.

Relevant information you pull from the reports enables you to hone your interview questions. Since interview time is so short, you want answers that give you genuine insight into the company and its inner-workings. Inadequate or less succinct answers should be clear indicators you’re likely in for a rough ride should the company extend an offer to you.


Where to find market research reports

Unfortunately, industry reports by research companies are notoriously expensive; they tend to be priced in the $1,000 to $3,000 range. However, most research reports available for download have a summary of findings attached. More often than not, you can pick up a couple salient facts from the summary.

Also, a search engine will yield magazine articles and blog posts that reference trends highlighted in research reports. Scan current websites to see what industry researchers are saying about the latest reports about your industry.

Armed with macro data and questions about what’s going on in your industry, you will certainly appear as a memorable job candidate - should you choose to take the job.