If you want to ace a job interview, it's imperative that you fully research the company ahead of time. That's according to Lina Alcala, Tinder's vice president of HR. In fact, Alcala says that the No. 1 thing she looks for when interviewing candidates is whether they've put in the legwork to learn about the dating site company.
Before coming into an interview, the HR exec says you must be able to answer some key questions such as, "What are some of the challenges we're facing?" and "What's the competitive landscape?"
"Be prepared to come in to speak to those things and be passionate about solving those problems," she tells CNBC Make It. "Coming to the interview with that passion with what we're doing as a business is important."
At Tinder, for example, applicants should understand the dating space as a whole and how the industry has evolved over the past two to five years, says Alcala. Once you have a broad understanding of the industry, hone in on the company itself. Alcala advises that you research the company's overall trajectory, determine the company's future plans and find out basic information such as how long the company has been around.
Additionally, you must understand what phase of the business a company is in, notes the HR exec: Is the business still in startup mode or has it reached growth and maturity?
"These are core components of research that you should do before coming into the interview," says Alcala. "So that you can … help the manager understand where you can solve problems for them."
When interviewing candidates at Tinder, which has roughly 300 employees, Alcala says that she first gives a realistic preview of the challenges the company is facing. She then asks applicants how they would approach solving those problems.
"Really what I'm looking for there is their thought process," explains the HR exec. "How would they go about gathering information [and] doing an assessment of what the needs are before suggesting a solution?"
However, these are tough questions to answer if you haven't done your research and prepared well in advance. "Doing research and legwork on where we're currently at is really important in that process," says Alcala. "So when you're face to face with a real business problem or solution, you have the context needed to suggest possible solutions."
Putting in that legwork is also beneficial when asking the interviewer questions of your own. Alcala says that the most memorable questions come from applicants who both understand and are looking to expand their knowledge on where the company's biggest pain points are.
She recommends asking questions like, "What challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis?" or, "If you have one thing on your wish list that wasn't a hot-button [issue] for you in the next two months, what would that be?"
Lastly, Alcala notes that performing adequate research prior to an interview shows the HR manager that you are "interested in getting to the root of where [you] would add value coming into the position."
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