How to research a prospective employer before an interview

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Researching about the company you want to join is a must in Canada. Doing this will help you answer interview questions better, formulate thoughtful questions, and make you stand out from the rest of the applicants. Making an effort to learn about the company and the industry also shows that you have initiative and drive. This will surely impress your interviewer.

What kind of information should you look for?

  1. The company:

    • Know its main business and the products or services it offers.
    • Find out who its customers are or the segment of the it serves.
    • Its vision, mission and values.
    • Know its financial standing. Check its annual reports.
    • Know its community projects and events.
    • Know its key personnel (especially your prospective boss).

    Go to the company’s website and look for the “About Us” section. Take note of the most important facts you picked up from your research and relate it to your own values or experiences. For example, if you’ve found the company’s mission or service philosophy particularly admirable, you can communicate this when they ask the question “Why do you want to work for us?” or “Why do you think you are a good fit for this company?”

  2. The industry:

    • The company’s competitors
    • Its industry standing
    • Industry trends
    • Issues/current problems in the field.

    Having a good knowledge about the industry can help you gauge if there’s a good future for you in this field or not. It can also help you pinpoint priorities and possible issues for the company. Sharing your insights during the interview (backed by your research) can lead to an intelligent discussion that can help your interviewer see the value that you can contribute to the company.

  3. Additional research

    • Find out more about the position. Interview an employee within the company to know more about the position that you’re applying for. Search on LinkedIn for prospects if you don’t know anyone from the company.
    • Become a member. If you’re interviewing for a position in a service company, sign-up or register to become a member online. Your experience as a member can show you how the company communicates and supports its customers. This can help you provide valuable feedback and suggestions to improve its service.

Other sources of information:

Other websites to explore for information:

  1. News sites – Read to get the latest corporate and industry news.
  2. LinkedIn and other social media pages – Check the company posts or scroll through the company’s Facebook and Twitter page to know the latest events or causes they may be promoting. Ask to be a member of their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter to get a notification for the latest news.
  3. Glassdoor, Vault and other review sites – These sites will show you other people’s experience with the company. Reviews may come from former employees, interviewees and customers. Remember to take the comments with a grain of salt though. It is common to see more negative comments than positive ones.
  4. Better Business Bureau – If the company is not particularly well-known (especially to newcomers), the site could give you an idea whether it is legitimate or not.
  5. Professional Associations – Go to these sites for more industry updates.

Lastly, organize your data

Make notes and organize your information so that important points will be easy to remember. Some suggest making a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats Analysis to categorize the information about the company. If you want to go the extra mile, prepare answers to expected interview questions. Make sure to incorporate your research data. Don’t forget to practice your responses.
Sources: 7 things to research before any interview, Heather Huhman, Glassdoor; The ultimate guide to researching a company pre-interview, Lily Zhang, the Muse; How to conduct company research for your job search, Job Hunt Solutions (Youtube). All accessed on April 20, 2017.

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