Unfortunately, you are in job hunting mode, like many of us are these days. Imagine you wake up Monday morning and check your email. To your delight, a message awaits from a company that wants to interview you. You break into your happy dance but…you have a lot of work to do to be prepared.

The question I am posing is simple. With stiff competition for fewer jobs, how much time should you invest in interview preparation? Statistics show 60% of all job hunters prepare four hours or less. Not a surprising statistic, but many people prepare considerably less. Some believe a half hour to an hour is all you need. I know someone that studies a company’s website in the parking lot of his potential employers, 15 minutes before the meeting is supposed to start.

To answer this question, ask yourself, “is getting a job more or less important than a college paper or exam?” If you’d spend 5 – 10‐plus hours writing papers and studying for exams, doesn’t it seem logical to spend just as much time preparing for a job interview? Or look at it this way. The average person spends 120 hours buying a house. By comparison, if you start a new job tomorrow and keep it for six years, the average American earns more from their job than the total value of their home.

So, it’s easy to make a case for much more thorough and yes, time consuming, job preparation. The fact is, the more you know, the more knowledgeable, relevant, focused and confident you become. Gather as much information as you can about the company including history, mission, strategy, accomplishments, M&A, product offerings, philanthropy and even their tagline. The best way to get such info is to connect with employees of the company, easily accomplished with a quick LinkedIn search for the company name and a thorough review of your personal network.

Connecting with employees of target companies can yield inside information not available on the web, including the personalities, likes and dislikes of hiring managers. Such connections take time to develop. Next, investigate the company’s social media. Look at the company’s Glassdoor page, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, Twitter feed, Instagram account and YouTube videos. Doing this will give you a snapshot of the how company wishes to be perceived and can help you frame your answers to critical interview questions.

Take neat, copious notes that can be transformed into a job proposal or distilled into talking points. Now start pouring over the website. Look at the job openings to get a window into the company’s growth. Study the company financials if public, so you can talk about the bottom line. Analyze the company’s press releases to further explore how the company has positioned itself. This takes time‐ hours. But there’s more. Your next step is to investigate and analyze the company’s competitors. This can help you determine market share and best practices and it’s also one of the best ways to show an employer how far you are willing to go to succeed.

Now, put it all together. Start formulating how your skills and experience fit into the company’s offerings, not based solely on your resume, but on what you have learned. Prepare a statement that addresses, “Why do you want to work for our company?”

Detailed answers, chock full of examples and told with historical perspective demonstrate the time you have invested and evoke a far better response from employers. So, don’t go on the interview just yet. Plan and invest your time, become a sponge for knowledge, and don’t look at the clock.