Researching the company you're interviewing with is a must, and almost all job candidates do it to some degree. However, many candidates don't research thoroughly enough or research the right things. So, below are the most important things to research about a company before an interview, which will ensure that you're as informed as you can be and that you stand out from other applicants.
1. Research the company's website—the entire site.
During your research, review the company’s products and services and get a handle on how they present themselves to the marketplace. What image do they put forth? Also get a sense of the management’s career histories and see what professional and educational credentials are valued by the firm. Are executives homegrown and have they been with the company for a while? Or do they tend to get recruited from competitors? Are their backgrounds a little unorthodox for the positions they hold? In addition, check out the company history and mission statement and try to deduce where the company is headed and how you can contribute to their mission.
2. Research all of the company's job openings, not just the one you're applying to fill.
Find out what kinds of positions are being filled. Do they tell you anything about the company or give you information about its direction? For example, you may notice that the company seems to be expanding its sales force. If you're interviewing for a training role, you could then indicate you've observed that many sales people may be hired and ask how the company expects the training team to contribute to their on-boarding.
3. Research articles written about the company by third parties.
Research stories about the company on Forbes, Fortune, Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and other major news outlets and industry publications. Do they contain comments made by the company’s spokespeople? This will give you a sense of the interviewer’s opinions on these stories.
4. Research (Google) the company’s name and the words <complaints>, <problems>, <unhappy employees>, and <scam>.
If you have any concerns about the company, this will reveal whether any adverse information has been documented or written about the firm.
5. Look for third-party commentary and see how it supplements, supports, or contradicts the information written by the company.
This outside information can offer additional insights. How is the third-party information different or similar to the company’s take on the same subjects? Look up the firm on sites like Vault.com to find out what is said about the firm by its employees. Examine the stats provided by these sites and read everything you can about what employees say about working for the firm. If you find negative points, are these things you can live with? Maybe you would even thrive within that type of environment? One person’s “boring job” may be another person’s “stable employer.”
6. Research the company's financials.
If the company is public, you can review its financial information on Edgar Online or Yahoo Finance. Public companies also often have their financials readily available on their websites. No matter how you research a company's financials, and regardless of the position to which you're applying, it's imperative that you understand the business and financial underpinnings of any potential employer. If you're a creative professional, don't think that you're excused from understanding the financials of a company. You should understand how your creative contributions will affect the company’s top and bottom lines. Knowing the business of your craft is one of the best ways you can differentiate yourself as a creative professional. And if you're a financial or business professional, take the time to review the company’s overall financial position.
A version of this post previously appeared on ChameleonResumes.com.
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