Most people are at least a little nervous when they sit down for a job interview. Even if you’re fully confident in your abilities and your fit for the position, there’s no guarantee you’ll click with the interviewers and land the job.
One way to ease interview anxiety is to prepare well before you walk through the door. And a key part of that preparation is to thoroughly research a company before your interview.
How to Research a Company Before an Interview
Knowing how to research a company for an interview starts with the internet, of course. But, your research should go deeper than the first page of the search results.
Start with an internet search to see how much and what kind of information is out there. Do a news search and check out recent articles from newspapers or the business press. If it’s a smaller company or a startup that hasn’t made the news yet, look for press releases on the corporate website. This will help you get a feel for how the business presents itself to the outside world, which could help guide your conversations.
As you’re reviewing the information, see who covers the company and what the overall reputation is. Is the majority of the coverage from reliable outlets? Is the information positive or negative? And, if it’s negative, how does the company handle it?
Check Their Website
Of course, you should visit the company’s website.
But don’t stop at the home page. Read the press section (if they have one) and check out the staff bio page to see if you can learn anything about the people you’re interviewing with.
Also, go beyond the surface and familiarize yourself with their solutions. This will help you position yourself during your interview. For example, if you’re interviewing at a company that uses a similar revenue model as a company you’ve previously worked for, connect the dots during your interview–even if the industries are different.
While you review the website, pay attention to what’s presented, and how it’s presented. What are you learning about the company and what themes do you see? This will help you get familiar with their tone and culture, but also also how they market themselves to potential customers.
Browse Social Media
Most companies know the power and importance of social media. That’s why almost all companies are on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, to name a few. You can check out social media to see how the company presents itself—and more importantly, how it interacts with the public.
Do they have a lot of followers, and do they engage with those followers? If so, how do they engage? Is it funny, sarcastic, all-business? What’s the general vibe of the social media posts? What do they post about? Do they give you an inside look at the company?
And don’t neglect review sites like Glassdoor, either. Are all the reviews positive? Negative? And does the company respond to the negative reviews? While review sites should be taken with a grain of salt, they might help you pick up on trends.
View Corporate Blogs
If you found a blog on the official website, of course, you should read it. But also read it regularly leading up to your interview, in case there’s new information posted that you can use during your interview.
However, don’t use the corporate blog as your only information source. Also look for blogs written about the company on somebody else’s website. You may find useful information written from somebody else’s perspective.
Tap Into Your Network
Reach out to your network and see if you know anyone who works for or who recently worked for the company. See if anyone has inside information via industry news or from attending conferences.
What to Know About a Company Before an Interview
While you’re compiling your information, make sure you’re searching for the answers to these specific questions to help you make a better decision about the company and help you prep for your interview. At a high level, here’s what you’ll want to know about a company before interviewing.
What Does the Company Do?
This seems obvious, but gaining a deeper understanding of the company’s solutions and their audiences is extremely important. Make sure you understand who they help and why their offerings are beneficial to their audience.
What’s the Mission or Vision?
Locate the company’s mission statement and try to figure out how that ties into their services and products.
Not all mission statements provide insight into an organization’s goals, but if you’re fortunate, the company you’re researching will have a good one. By studying it, you can prepare to talk about how your skills and personality align.
What’s the Company History?
Read the corporate history, noting mergers, product changes, or even mission changes over the years. Find out how many employees the company started with and currently has. Learn if there’s one location or multiple (or if they’re fully remote), and where the main headquarters are. These details may not come up during the interview, but they can provide context for the rest of your research.
Who’s Running the Show?
Take a look at the official bios for the company’s executives on the corporate website. Then search for their LinkedIn profile or other information about them. If you know who is going to interview you, pay special attention to their backgrounds. Consider opportunities you may have to talk about common education or experiences.
What’s the Culture?
Company culture often goes hand-in-hand with the mission or vision statements, but it can go beyond that. Between the company’s press coverage, social media posts, reviews, and website, you’ll likely have a better idea of if you might be happy in the job. During the interview, if you can give examples demonstrating how you’ll be a good cultural fit, you could have an advantage over other candidates. For example, if the company values volunteer work, it would be beneficial to mention any of your experience working with nonprofits and causes. Or, if the company is in growth mode, it would help to explain your experience being adaptable and working in fast-paced environments.
How Are the Organization’s Finances?
Look for an “investor relations” page on the company website. If its stock is publicly traded, listen to the recorded earnings calls for the last few quarters and check out published financial statements. If it’s not listed on a stock exchange or doesn’t have a page for investors, you may need to dig a little deeper during your interview. It doesn’t hurt to delicately ask about company performance and general trajectory. It shows that you’re looking for more than a job and care about the big picture.
Who Are the Competitors?
Researching the company’s competitors before interviewing will give you a better feel for the challenges the business is facing and how it differentiates itself from the competition. It will also help grow your knowledge of their market segment.
Researching a Company Before Interviewing Is Worth It
Researching a company before the interview can help you demonstrate how you’re a good fit while also showing that you are truly interested in the job.
As a bonus, you’ll have a better feel for what kind of company you are interviewing with (casual, traditional, etc.) and if it matches up with what you want.
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