How to research a prospective employer before an interview

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

What kind of information should you look for?

  1. The company. Prioritize on the following:
    • Its main business. Know the products and services they offer.
    • Target audience/s or the segment of the population they serve.
    • Vision, mission and values.
    • Financial standing – you can see this from the annual reports.
    • Community efforts/events.
    • Key personnel (especially your prospective boss).

    You can start by going to their website, particularly the “About Us” section. It will help you get a general idea of the values, structure, its strengths and weaknesses. This will also show what the general corporate culture is like. When you get asked the question: “Why do you want to work here?” You can mention some things that you learned in your research and relate it to your own values and preferences.

  2. The Industry
    • The company’s competitors
    • Industry standing
    • Industry trends
    • Issues/current problems

    The next step is industry research. Having knowledge about the industry will help you understand your company’s prospects (is business good or bad?) and the problems and issues plaguing the industry, if there are. Aside from helping you gauge whether there’s a good future for you in this field or not, it can also help you pinpoint possible issues for the company. Sharing your insights during the interview backed up by your research can lead to an intelligent discussion that will surely impress your interviewer.

  3. Additional research
    Do additional research to find out more about the position. Try to connect with an employee within the company to ask about it. Try to find out if it is a new post or if someone left position and their reasons for doing so. You can try searching through LinkedIn for possible connections if you don’t know anyone from the company. While you’re on LinkedIn, you could also take a peek at the profiles of your interviewer and prospective boss to know their professional history. This may come in handy if you need topics for small talk.

Other sources of information:

Aside from the company website, it will be helpful to check out other websites for information like:

  1. News sites – for the latest corporate and industry news.
  2. LinkedIn – check for company posts.
  3. Social media pages– check the company’s Facebook and Twitter page as well as their Tweets to know the latest events or causes they may be promoting.
  4. Glassdoor, Vault and other review sites –these will tell you about other people’s experience with the company. Reviews may come from former employees, interviewees, or even customers. Remember to take the comments with a grain of salt though. It is common to see more negative comments than positive ones.
  5. Google – for a general search of past and current corporate and industry news.
  6. 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.
  7. Professional Associations – for more industry updates.

Lastly, organize your data

Make notes and organize your data 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 information in them. 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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