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:

    • 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 or messages you picked up from your research and relate it to your own values or experiences.

  2. The industry:

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

    Having knowledge about the industry will help you understand your company’s prospects. Aside from helping you gauge if 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

    • 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 communications, marketing or customer relations position for a service company, sign-up or register to become a member online. Your experience can provide you a good idea about how the company communicates and supports its customers. This can also help you provide valuable feedback and suggestions to improve its service.
  4. Other sources of information:

    Other websites 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 – Read 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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