How to Research Potential Employers
Once you’ve landed a job interview, the real work begins – preparation and research. Researching the company is one of the most important things you can do before an interview. Other than the job description, a lot of people aren’t sure what they should be researching, or where to start. There is practically endless research you could do on any given company, but sifting through quarterly reports throughout the company’s entire history probably won’t be much help to you. Instead focus research on aspects of the company that pertains to the position for which you’re interviewing. Of course, general company research will be important as well. If you aren’t sure where to start, here’s some solid advice:
Begin your research on the company’s website. Read every page carefully and take notes if possible. The company’s “about” page, client work, and blog (if they have one) typically have the most important and relevant information. Try to digest everything as best you can, but never stop at the company’s site. Instead, use it as a good jumping off point to which you can reference as you research further.
Next, scour the internet for external sources of information. Look for anything related to the company and industry/field the company is in. Good sites to start with are Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and review websites like Yelp. Pay close attention to company reviews and engagement on social media like the comments section. Also be on the lookout for any kind of case studies, press releases, and recent reports both for the company and the field the company is in.
Now that you have a solid base, here are some key factors to focus on:
Mission and Company Values
This information will likely be on their website, so make sure you know it back and forth. Throughout your research be aware of the company’s values and see if the company is upholding them at all possible times. This will give you insight on how important those values are to the company and how much or little you should focus on those values in your interview.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Throughout your research take notes on what the company appears to exceed at, and where the company falls short. A good indicator of this is customer engagement on social media and if they have any outstanding awards or accolades. Identifying strengths and weaknesses will help you plan out how you will position yourself and your skills in the interview. If you feel you are particularly good at the company’s strengths, tell the interviewer how you would fit right in. If you have skills in a weak area of the company, put emphasis on how you can help the company in that area. It’s all about making yourself valuable to the company – do the research required to make them realize they need you.
This can be harder to identify. Try to search, for example, recent financial reports of the company, if what the company offers is in demand, if the company has expanded or cut back recently, and what the average salary at the company is.
In your research, take notes of other companies in direct competition with the company you’re interviewing with. Do they seem bigger, better, more staffed? Or do they seem smaller, lower quality, and struggling to keep up? Again, things like quarterly reports and case studies will help you identify this information. If you understand the competition, you can leverage your knowledge of the industry in your interview (e.g. asking questions about other companies and how this company fairs in the marketplace).
Clients, Products, Services
You need to have a firm understanding of what the company offers and who their top clients are. This will give you a better idea of where you could fit within the company by examining how your strengths align with what the company offers. You’ll also be able to speak to what the company offers in the interview – again upping your value.
Key Players Within the Company
One of the most important things to remember from you research is who the decision makers are within the company. Commit their names and faces to memory if possible. This way, when you see a manager you‘ll be able to go right up and introduce yourself with confidence. Especially try to find out who will be interviewing you. Do extensive research on your interviewer. If you know the person’s background, education, and interests, you can easily lend a lighthearted conversation to the interview. Overall, if you do your research the way you should, it will show in the interview. Even speaking to a few key aspects of the company will show the interviewer you are interested and committed to getting the job. And remember you main goal: make yourself valuable.