FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- John Doe had done his job search by the letter. He had attended the five-day transition assistance program job assistance workshop, decided on career goals, written and re-written his resume, composed a great cover letter, researched job leads and made it to the interview.

Dressed for success, he was ready for the interview and excited about the possibility of working for this company.

After the initial general questions, the interview moved on to more specific questions about John's experience, skill and abilities. They were establishing an excellent rapport and everything was going great.

"What do you know about our company?" the interviewer asked. Jack was at a loss -- all he really knew was that they manufactured electronic parts. Panic stricken, he fumbled for an answer.

The interview ended. Another applicant was hired.

The average job seeker would be depressed, and so was John. But the true measure of job seekers is how quickly they can rebound.

After the interview, job seekers need to prepare an after action report. They need to review every case -- he had only made one mistake, but it was a big one: lack of research.

The ideal candidate must not only possess the skills the employer is looking for; he must also know about the position and the company.

Jack should have found answers to the following questions.

• What does the company make or do?
• Does it have other branches or divisions?
• What is happening to the firm?
• Are they expanding or downsizing?
• Do they have a new product?
• What is happening in the industry?
• How are similar companies doing?
• What is the company image?
• How can John show them that he will fit in?
• What are the normal salary, benefits and working conditions?
• What are the chances for advancement or promotion?

There are several sources for company information that John could have checked. He could have written or called the company and asked for company literature. Companies are usually happy to mail literature to potential employees.

Good information on companies is also as near as the library. Business directories such as "Dun's Regional Business Directory" could have given John the edge. The Fort Rucker Soldier for Life - Transition Assistance Program Center maintains some job-related books, but others are available in post libraries.

Another excellent source of information is an Internet search engine. Finally, John could have tapped this knowledge from someone in his network. If he had a contact within, or even in a competing company, they could possibly have helped John find company-specific information.

You can bet that John won't make the same mistake again. The smart job seeker learns from each interview and gets better each successive time.

The SFL-TAP Center can point you to sources for company-specific information and assist you with all other aspects of the job search, including interviewing.

For additional information, call 255-2558.