JPMorgan Chase is the biggest bank on the planet and employs more than 250,000 people. Its CEO, Jamie Dimon, is ranked among the world’s best CEOs, according to Barron’s.
He knows how to hire and promote future leaders. The first thing he looks for in a job candidate is someone who knows “the basics.” These are the people who have done their homework. If you’ve studied the company carefully, you’ll be an ideal job candidate because, according to Dimon, you’ll “enhance” the conversation and teach the recruiter or hiring manager something new.
Here are three ways to make a great impression in your next job interview.
Read the CEO’s letter or reports.
Jamie Dimon recently published his 2019 chairman’s letter. I have read all 52-pages and I’m not even looking for a job at the bank. Speaking to a class of graduate business students at Stanford University, Dimon says you’d be surprised at how many job candidates don’t read the letter which he puts out every year.
Some people walk into your office…and they didn’t bother to read the chairman’s letter that I wrote, which is 30 or 40 pages long. There are people who say, “You know, you really should think about doing better digital services,” but they don’t know about the ones we do.
The CEOs of publicly-traded companies must publish their insights and forecasts in annual reports. Some, like Dimon, go even further and offer deeper insights into macro-economic events that impact their companies. If you’re a leader, reading Dimon’s letter will make you smarter. If you’re looking for a job at the bank, reading Dimon’s letter will set you apart from the other candidates.
Read every page of a CEO’s letter before a job interview.
Approach your homework with a beginner’s mind.
Job hunters need to do their homework before their first interview. Start with a beginner’s mindset and learn all you can–even the proper pronunciation of a company’s name.
Dimon’s advice reminds me of a conversation I had with an executive at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. If you’re looking for a job at one of the world’s top pediatric cancer centers, you should know that it’s not called “St. Jude’s.” Many job candidates don’t bother to read the website. Many candidates cannot recite the company’s trademarked slogan (“Finding cures. Saving children”).
If you walk into the hospital for an interview today and you don’t know that, just five days ago, St. Jude was nominated as a finalist for Fast Company’s ‘World-Changing Ideas” award, you’d be missing an opportunity to impress the hiring manager. You’re also signaling that you haven’t done your homework. If the hospital is proud enough to post the news prominently on its website, you’d better know about it.
Devour every page of a company’s website.
Read a book about the company, especially if the CEO wrote it.
I’ve lost count of how many early to mid-level business professionals I meet who haven’t read the CEO’s book–or even know that the CEO of their company wrote a book. When I’m asked to consult for a company or CEO, I need to know their company’s story down cold. I visit every page of the company’s website, study customer stories, read books on the company, and scan articles published by the CEO or senior leadership team, etc.
By doing the basics–my homework–I know more about the company at the macro level than many people who work at there. Here’s the difference: I’m not seeking to climb the ladder in the company’s organization. I don’t aspire to a leadership position at the company. If I know more than you do about your company, and I don’t work there, you won’t be joining the leadership ranks anytime soon.
Knowing the basics works the other way around, too. If you’re hiring for a position at your company–any position–and the job candidate doesn’t know that the CEO writes an annual letter, they may not have the passion, drive, and interest to move your company forward.