Chapter 2

Choosing the Right Organisation

This chapter explores how to go about choosing the right organization when identifying target companies. Many students and professionals think they are lucky to receive interviews and opportunities in organizations, but before getting swept up, have you considered whether the organization is right for you? Let’s explore this better.

LinkedIn gathered that almost 83% of candidates are likely to change their mind about being hired by a particular company once they come across a negative interview or impression, even if they admire said company.

Why is this statistic important?

While it may seem that being hired in a company is a huge game-changer for you, remember, the organization needs you just as much. Most candidates get swept away by the thought of having a job, leading to a comfortable fog settling around the target company and what it actually is offering the candidate - other than money.

It is extremely important for a candidate to review and identify target companies instead of blindly targeting all companies for interviews. Having a smaller pool of target companies will help you plan and prepare better. You can always change or shift your target slightly later on. With a plethora of organizations on the rise, how can you determine which companies to target? Don’t worry, there are ways to figure this out.

Let’s take an imaginary example-

Mike spent about 2 months browsing for a position as a software developer. He generically browsed through the companies that he knew about, looked up their competitors, and did a little research to expand his horizon and learn about more companies.
Soon enough, he had the opportunity to sit for a few interviews at organizations based on his research. It turned out, every company that he was interviewing for had a wide variety of interview requirements. Some required him to prepare for cultural fitness; some needed Mike to take technical tests, while others were heavy on rounds with colleagues and senior professionals.  
Mike was suddenly perplexed - on the one hand, he already had interviews in place, but on the other hand, most of these interviews conflicted with each other, and he didn’t think he had enough time to undertake proper interview preparation for each of them. If only he could figure out what was the right decision for him? Should Mike have targeted a smaller pool of companies and figured out where he wanted to specifically work instead of applying everywhere?

So how do you identify which company is right for you?  

It’s okay to be like Mike - sometimes, you come across various positions and companies and can get confused as to what’s right for you. But don’t feel hassled. There’s a way to figure this out and arrive at a conclusion that’s right for you.

Step 1: Gather information

When doing research, make thorough lists of the companies you come across. Divide these into the following:

  • Dream companies you want to interview at, such as Google, Facebook or Amazon if you’re a software developer
  • Companies you would like to be interviewed by, such as boutique law firms, if you are a lawyer
  • Companies recommended through other sources, such as mid-sized corporates that have tremendous potential on sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor
  • Companies you come across through your own search process, such as those with enough potential to compete against some of the top companies in the world today or have positions fit for your profile. For example, if you work in a very niche segment of data analysis, then perhaps a smaller company that may not be your dream company has a position since it only works specifically in this space.

There are many other factors to consider when choosing companies - make sure to read reviews about companies left by other people on platforms like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and other such websites. These websites can also offer you an in-depth look into the pay scale, growth opportunities, culture, learning scope, and other factors that can help you decide whether you would want to take up a position at such a company.

It’s human not to know everything - so don’t worry about not knowing about every position out there that could be a fit for you. Focus on these four columns, to begin with, and start gathering as much information about the companies as you can.

As you go through the information and do your research, you will uncover enough about what the target companies do, how they treat their employees, what they expect of their employees, and how well an individual can grow and flourish in the company. Based on your research, you will be able to narrow down your search to a few options.

Tip - You can then divide these chosen companies into tiers (highest to lowest, based on likeliness to work there) or put down the pros and cons to help you better arrive at a solution.

Step 2: Slow and steady

Remember that fable about the tortoise and the rabbit?

Yes, there’s a difference between being ambitious and over-ambitious. It’s excellent to have goals but make sure they are attainable. Sometimes, we tend to put down goals that require huge leaps rather than small steps - while that’s not wrong, remember to cut yourself some slack and allow yourself to move at your own pace towards achieving your goals.

In interview terms, if you have a few years of work experience, then consider gathering some more experience at an organization rather than gunning for your dream job (which you may not yet qualify for). For example, it may be difficult to jump from a tier 3 company to a tier 1 company. If you’re working as a software developer for a small boutique agency, it may be prudent to gain a little more expertise before you gun for a similar job at Facebook or Google.

Alternatively, many people switch their domains after a few years of working - for example, if you’re working as a coder but want to switch to the marketing team. Talent definitely goes a long way, but experience also counts. So you could consider getting into a field of work related to your current expertise before making such a huge leap. This could help you get closer to your target domain, eventually enabling you to make the switch.

If you do - then nothing like it! But always remember to assess yourself. Setting these goals will go a long way in deciding your interview preparation strategy, so make sure to frame them correctly before getting down to prepping.

Step 3: Target the Target

The first step to zoning in on a target company is self-assessment. You need first to identify your experience and skill levels and then level out the companies you want to apply to.

Some years ago, I met Katrina, an excellent engineer. All her life, she desperately vyed for a spot at a top software company. With a few years of experience, she decided to just go for it and apply for an open position at the software company of her dreams. Unfortunately, Katrina didn’t make the cut - the company informed her that while her work was great, she lacked experience and diversity.
Katrina realized that she had blown her chances and should have opted for a more boutique space to expand her skills and techniques a bit more before applying for the big guns. She realized that the smaller software company that offered her a job allowed her to expand her skill set and learn more. Through this learning, she realized she had a long way to go before she could compete with being skill-ready to take a larger company head-on.

The best thing you can do when identifying your target companies is making clear lists of prospective employers and places you want to work at - not just from their perspective, but also from yours.  

Exercise -

  1. Start by making a list of the benefits your target companies can offer to you. Irrespective of whether the company is your dream place to work at or not, how well do you think it can benefit your current level of skills and add to your expertise? Make a note.
  1. Self-assessment is key. You need to analyse your skills, expertise and qualifications vis-a-vis your goal job. You can do this by speaking to peers or professionals. A sureshot way of doing this is to undertake a mock interview. Preplaced offers mock interviews to help candidates ascertain and self-assess their skills, giving them a clear picture of where they stand in the interview battlefield. Take a mock interview to understand if you are ready to prepare for your target company.

Tip - Don’t be afraid to reassess your target from time to time. As you prepare for your interview, you have every right to change your target company, especially if you get an opportunity to do so! Remember, the goal, ultimately, is to ace the interview. If you feel confident about your interview preparation, don’t be afraid to change your target.

For example, if you feel your skills are at par with tier 1 companies, then don’t feel forced to stick to tier 2 companies - but make sure you’ve thoroughly evaluated yourself through a proper assessment such as speaking to expert mentors and conducting mock interviews.