In the next 10 minutes, I’m going to show you exactly how to research a company for your job interview.
You want to go into the interview feeling ready and confident, and you don’t want to embarrass yourself.
That’s what good pre-interview research can do for you.
But what’s the fastest and easiest way to get enough information about a company to avoid interview mistakes and make a great first impression? And what exactly should you be researching?
Keep reading for everything you need to know…
Go to the business’ website and find out about what products or services they provide. What do they sell and how do they make money? Why might the company’s clients choose them?
Learn anything you can about the company culture, too. Click buttons like “About Us” or “Meet Our Team” when you’re on the company website.
Then visit their “Careers” section to see what jobs are posted in general. Make sure you’re familiar with the job description and get a feel for the other jobs they’re hiring for.
Finally, see if the company has a mission statement. Knowing the company’s mission will help you understand what they care most about, so that you can show these traits in the job interview.
This is the longest step in the process of researching a company, but it’ll give you a ton of information you can use in your answers, and knowing more about them will help you explain why you wanted to apply for the job.
This is a relatively short step, but still important for how to research a company before your interview.
As you conduct company research, go to Google News to read some recent developments and press releases, so you can get a sense of what the company is working on.
Find a piece of good news, a recent change, acquisition or new project, or anything else you can find about the company online.
You’ll notice more info available for large companies, but you may still find valuable news articles and stories for smaller companies, too.
Your goal in this research, for each of your target companies, is to find one action they took recently that you can ask about in the interview.
For example, you’d ask, “I read you recently did ___, can you tell me more about that?”
They’ll be impressed that you know the latest news about them.
Most job seekers are asking boring, generic questions in the interview (like, “What is your company’s mission?”)
So if you can ask a question about a recent news story, it’s going to set you apart.
That brings me to one other piece of job search and career advice: Never ask a question that could be answered on the company’s website.
Next, research the company’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social profiles to see recent news you might have missed on Google News in step 2. You might see pictures of employee outings too, etc. You’ll get a great sense of the company culture and the type of people who work there.
This will give you more fuel and ideas for questions you can ask in the interview too.
For example, you could ask, “I saw on Facebook you recently had a company charity event. Can you tell me about what else the company does to facilitate team-building and/or charitable giving in the community? It’s great that those are a part of your company’s values. That’s something I’m looking for in an employer.”
You can also look for the company on YouTube. Do a quick search and see if they have a channel.
More and more companies are sharing video content, so this is a worthwhile step in terms of how to research a company very thoroughly before you talk to them.
You might also see their office in a video which will make you more comfortable when you arrive for an interview. You’ll feel like you’ve been there before.
If you really want to impress the company with how much you researched them before the interview, head over to similarweb.com, type the company name or website into the search bar, and then find the button that says “similar sites”.
Click it and you’ll see companies that are similar to the company you’re interviewing at. Try to find a few key differences and similarities, so you can show you understand the whole marketplace and industry, not just the company you’re interviewing with.
If you do this, most hiring managers will be VERY impressed.
If you’re interviewing in a new industry this becomes even more important. But it’s a great step for anyone who wants to research a company before a job interview.
Search on LinkedIn to find employees of the company. Better yet, find people in the same type of group or role that you’re interviewing for. What type of background do they have? You might spot a trend for the type of person a company likes to hire.
This research will help you understand what the company looks for in the hiring process, so that you’ll be better prepared for questions they throw at you in the interview.
LinkedIn isn’t just a great job search resource, it’s also a powerful research tool. If you don’t already have an account that’s active and up-to-date, you should definitely make one. If you’re not convinced, here are 5 reasons you should use LinkedIn.
Next, use LinkedIn to research the hiring manager’s background.
How long have they been with the company?
What’s their educational background?
What previous jobs have they worked to get to the point they’re at?
This is a great way to prepare to pass your interview. You might even see something you have in common with the hiring manager, such as a sport you played in college.
And if not, you’ll still know more about them than most candidates going in for the interview. So it’ll be easier to bond and build rapport, or talk about topics that they’re familiar with.
Next, if you’re attending a job interview in an unfamiliar industry, you should go beyond researching the company and also dig into the industry overall.
Browse social media accounts of other businesses in the industry, read a few trade publications online, see what types of jobs are posted in this industry, and more.
What types of products and services does the industry provide in general?
What are some of the latest developments happening?
What are some common types of jobs in the industry?
You can look at industry news in Google, check company social media accounts, and more to gather this information.
There are a variety of websites that allow job seekers to write about their job search experience and which interview questions they faced. So I recommend searching Google for terms like “<Company Name> interview questions” and “<Company Name> interview process.”
You won’t find information about this for every employer, but you should find some hints about the interview process for most large employers, which can be a big aid in your job search.
Then, you’ll know how to better prepare for your job interview to show you’re a fit for the company’s culture and role.
Next, consider visiting a site like Glassdoor.com to read reviews from current and past employees.
This may give you more hints about how the company operates, which will help you prepare great interview answers.
You’ll also gain valuable information to help you decide if you do or don’t want to work for this company!
You may spot a red flag or two that you’d like to ask about in the interview.
You wouldn’t have found this on a casual visit to the company’s website. So reading reviews from real employees will give you a better understanding of what your life will be like if you accept their job.
Those are the best steps you can take for pre-interview company research. I recommend doing everything above if you have time.
If a company is publicly traded, it must release an annual report, quarterly financial statements, and more.
You can see their stock price, read recent stock news, and more.
For public companies, you’ll often see an “investor relations” button when you visit the company website (usually in the site footer).
You can also search for the company name on a website like Google Finance to read about their financial health and explore recent financial data and statements.
This doesn’t need to be an in-depth, time-consuming step when researching a company, but it’s worth noting whether they’re publicly traded or not, and how the company’s stock is doing.
Now you know what to research about a company before the interview.
As a final step, make sure you can answer these questions about a company:
Use that as a checklist to make sure you’ve researched the company enough before your interview.
Now that you know how to research a company before a job interview, you’re going to be able to make a better impression on recruiters and hiring managers, and turn more interviews into job offers!
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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