Interviews: Why Winging It is a Really Bad Plan

If you really think about what’s involved when you’re preparing for an interview, there just isn’t a viable excuse for “winging it”. Unless you don’t have Internet access/time to spend gathering information to prepare you for a telephone or face to face meeting you have no excuses. None.

Interviewees have access to so much information today and pre-interview preparation has never been easier. But which sources will have you best-equipped for a meeting? Just try out this checklist when you’re prepping for the big day and you’ll be ready to go:

• Organization’s website – a wealth of information can usually be found on the website for whatever company/organization you’ll be interviewing with.
o The “About Us” section usually includes the bios on the executives and leaders you’ll be meeting. Find out where they’re from and look for common previous employers which can tell you that this team’s worked together before. It can be a good or bad thing.
o “News” is also another great place to gather information. New product announcements, partnerships and new-employee press releases can be found here. A “News” link with no news or very old news will tell another story (one that should raise some concerns).
o “Products”/”Services” is another section you should be familiar with if you’re thinking about working for a HCIT vendor. Are the products exciting to you? Do you either have domain expertise you can discuss with your potential employer or will this company allow you to “scale” your knowledge in a new area?
Public Filings – if you’re considering working for a publicly traded company, look at their latest public filings (as required by the SEC).
o The latest quarterly report has the most recent information the company is required to disclose by law.
o The biographies and compensation for the highest earners are listed, as well as the number of stock options they’ve been granted or exercised.
o The latest annual report is a great place to discover the company’s strategy and competition. Print out this information to help you prepare and formulate knowledgeable questions to ask during your interview.
LinkedIn – we’ve talked about this in previous blog postings, but you should always know your audience and learn more about:
o Career history and background.
o Contact information (sometimes including personal e-mail address).
o Who they know and have in their LinkedIn network.
o What others say about them in their public recommendations.

You can also find plenty of additional information with a simple Google search. Good news and bad – it’s all there.

Bottom-line: if you’ve had a bad interview experience because you weren’t prepared, it’s totally your fault. The data and information you need to be ready and knock the cover off the ball is there – and easily available.

All you have to do is look for it!

About the author


Tim Tolan

Tim Tolan is the Senior Partner of the Healthcare IT and Services Practice of Sanford Rose Associates. He has conducted searches for CEOs, presidents, senior vice presidents, vice presidents of business development, product development and sales. Tim is also the co-author of "The CEO’s Guide to Talent Acquisition – Finding Talent Your Competitors Overlook," available on Amazon.


  • Tim- I couldn’t agree more. An unprepared interviewee is unacceptable. With the tools available now one should never approach an interview with the “winging it” attitude. Even if you don’t have internet access your local library does, and it’s free.

    I would add that sites such as Glassdoor allow you to see the opinions of previous employees and interviewees. You must take these with a grain of salt but if you see a recurring theme then be sure to address it in the interview.

  • Jennifer: Thanks for your comment. It makes no sense why anyone would not be prepared and part of our job is to make sure our candidates have all of the information they need to do well. However, in the end, it gets down to personal choices and unfortunately, sometimes the wrong choices are made. Go figure!

Click here to post a comment