Staple job interview research: the job role, the company, and the people interviewing you. But have you ever looked at the bigger picture and really looked at the industry you’re applying to?

It can take a bloody long time to get an interview, so once you’re there you’ve got to make it count. You’re not currently working in that industry – whether it be music, media, fashion, hospitality, architecture, or tech – so they aren’t going to expect you to know the ins and outs, facts and figures and most recent stats. But it will give you a competitive advantage.

Angela Hassall, Lead Consultant for Telefonica’s graduate scheme, Talentum, backs us up: “It’s important to do your research beforehand so that you are both totally prepared for your interview and assessment but also so that you can decide if it’s the company for you,” she says. “Being passionate about what an industry and company does is always key, this makes them stand out and will help them see themselves in the role they aspire to.”

Example: if you want to be a journalist, you should know how content is being marketed online, the decline in the print market, and the similarity between online journalism and digital communications. Ask yourself if you know what’s going on in your industry. And hey, if you want to be an entrepreneur this is pretty useful, too!


Have there been any recent developments in your industry? How is the rise in the digital nature of doing things affecting it? How is the industry now, compared to ten years ago, and what might it be like in ten years’ time?

“Knowing your stuff will also help when the selection process includes assessment centres as this resembles scenarios they will face should they be successful and focuses on testing reaction to problem solving, decision making and communication as well as potential leadership skills and team work ethic,” adds Angela.

“Comparison is also important, so checking out the company’s competition stands you in good stead to be able to compare the market and show analysis skills. “

They could ask you…

  • How do you keep up with your industry?
  • Who are your biggest influences in the industry?
  • Talk about your knowledge of the industry
  • What excites you about the industry?
  • Who are our major competitors in the industry?
  • What are the challenges in the industry?


  • Twitter: Use Twitter Search to your advantage and search for key words that might shade light on the sector. You can keep these searches documented in their own feed by setting up on Tweetdeck – i.e. ‘journalism’, ‘digital journalism’, ‘journalism industry’, etc. Even though journalism is in the general media industry, scaling down to more specific keywords will produce better results.
  • Google alerts: Set yourself up with Google news alerts with similar keywords and phrases that will give an insight into the stories being published in the industry. You’ve got news delivered straight to your email as frequently as you like, without the need to search for it yourself. Google’s great.
  • Blogs: If you have the time to do some reading, on top of the reading you’ve already done about the company, turn to blogs. Blogs give informal voices, instant reactions, and insider insights to what’s going on. It can be personal blogs, or companies’ own blogs – either way, you’ll be learning stuff from people in the industry who know insider info. (Example: 50 blogs about journalism, for journalists).
  • B2B publications: business publications will be the best place to go for up-to-date news and comment from high-profile people. A lot are on magazine subscriptions, however of course they’ve all got websites that you can access in an instant. Search in Google – I just typed in ‘marketing magazine UK’ and now I already know the most popular marketing campaigns for Christmas 2014. Easy peasy.
  • LinkedIn groups: you are on LinkedIn, right? We’re going to make this very easy – log in to LinkedIn, search ‘Groups about [insert industry/keyword here]’ and press search. ‘Groups about journalism’ gave me 1,098 results. Nice. Now you’ve got to sift through to find the relevant ones, but join them, interact, and read their posts.
  • Offline research: as much as sitting at your computer is easy, talking to people who work in that role, job, or industry will probably give you more information than a blog post, because you can directly ask questions. Appeal to friends, family friends, friends of boyfriends of sisters, and see if they’ll update you on anything you should know about.


You’ve done your bit – well done. Now make it known. Tweet out what you’ve been reading, join in the conversation, and of course, refer to what you’ve learned in your job interview (but not in that show-off type of way).

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