This is the 1 Critical Thing You Should Do Before Any Job Interview

When going after a new career opportunity, there are plenty of steps you need to take (there’s a reason they say that getting a new job is a job unto itself!)

Assessing your market value, finding jobs that meet your desired salary range), and of course, networking should all be part of the build-up to landing a big job interview. And regardless of the role you’re pursuing, as soon as you get called in, there’s one role you need to take on: Chief Research Officer.

Only two percent of applicants get interviews, so if you’re lucky enough to get that far, don’t blow it by skipping your homework. With the amount of information available online about just about everywhere you’re sending a resume, there’s no excuse not to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the ins and outs of both the company where you’re interviewing and the interviewer herself.

Start with the company website, but don’t end there. A quick Google News search can give you the most up to date happenings of a business, and give you some informed talking points for your interview (along with topics to avoid).

A company’s social media channels and blog will also give you the latest internal news, a glimpse of what’s top of mind, and insight to the brand’s voice (plus, following their social channels can’t hurt in terms of brownie points). From all of this research, jot down a few questions you can ask when you’re put on the spot at the end of the interview that showcase that you’ve done your homework.

Sure, this next step may qualify you as a certified lurker, but you can also peek into your interviewer’s social channels to get an idea of their personality and interests. LinkedIn is the least creepy version of this “personality audit” (though, beware if they have Premium they’ll know you’ve been trawling them), and can also give you the opportunity to suss out any first degree connections that might put in a good word for you.

You’ll get some more personal insights on Instagram and Facebook, but just be careful to avoid the dreaded “deep like” (or any like, really) if you don’t want your cyberstalking known. Remember that all of this is on background: It will definitely creep your interviewer out if you ask her about her niece’s birthday party this past weekend.

This online research is about more than just impressing your potential employer, though–it’s about sussing out the company culture to assess if it’s a good fit for you. Check out   Glassdoor for insights on company culture from current and former employees. While one disgruntled rant shouldn’t turn you away, a consistent thread of negative reviews can be a red flag.

And remember that digital research can go both ways: your potential employer (and co-workers!) will inevitably use the same techniques on you the moment your resume lands on their desks. While you’re polishing your resume, give your LinkedIn and social channels a good scrub as well.