When the time comes for an interview, how do you prepare? Everyone has their own process, but there’s one part of interview prep that no one should skip: researching the company you’re interviewing for. With the convenience of today’s technology and the plethora of information it offers, most companies expect candidates to enter the interviewing process with a fair understanding of the business and its goals. In addition to showing that you’re prepared, proactive, and knowledgeable, making yourself familiar with at least the basics of the company will also give you a better idea of whether or not you’d enjoy working there.
However, as a simple search engine query will verify, there is a lot of information out there on any particular company. Therefore, it can be difficult to know where to begin—or even end! We’ve compiled a few tips from how to research to what to look for to make the prep for your next interview go a bit more smoothly.
How to research
- Check their website. A company’s website is always the best place to begin, as it will typically have an “About” section that serves as a great introduction. This is where you can often learn about the company’s origins, growth over time, and outlook for the future to get a feel for how they operate and what their goals are.
- Look them up on LinkedIn and other social media. LinkedIn and social media pages are great resources for information, from company history to open positions to branding. They’re the go-to source for getting a feel of the company’s voice and culture.
- Read up on them through Glassdoor. Glassdoor.com is an invaluable resource that includes such information as employee reviews, salaries, and first-hand accounts of what to expect on an interview with the company. This is an especially handy tool when practicing your interview answers. However, it’s important to always take reviews with a grain of salt and keep an open mind, as they’re subjective by nature.
- Search for past stories on Google News. If a company is mentioned in any news stories or blog posts, it will often show up in a quick search. Getting an idea for the business’s recent developments and industry involvement can give you a great set of talking points for an interview—just be sure to always tread cautiously with any negative information you might find. While it may be impressive that you’ve researched the company so thoroughly, you don’t want to seem as if you are questioning their decisions.
- Reach out to your network. Most industries are much smaller worlds than they may seem, so if emailing or calling a few of your contacts may not be something you’d expect to be helpful, think again! You never know who may have interviewed with a certain company or knows a thing or two about how they operate.
What to take away
- The company’s mission. In order to know if you’re a good fit for the position, you need to know what large-scale goals your duties will be contributing to in the long run. It’s also important to have a firm grasp of what the company’s mission statement is so you’re prepared to talk about it in the interview should the need arise.
- The company’s culture. While there’s only so much of a company’s culture you can gauge from a distance, knowing a bit about their values and unique characteristics goes a long way for determining whether or not you will find it a good fit. Again, this information can also assist you with interview questions—and not only the ones asked of you! By having some knowledge of the company’s culture, you can formulate some of your own questions to ask at the conclusion of the interview.
- The company’s reputation. This may not be something you want to comment on in an interview, but knowing the company’s reputation can help you tremendously throughout the process. Do hiring managers there typically respond promptly, or does the hiring process take weeks? Does the company have a bright outlook for the future, or are they struggling? Using resources like Glassdoor and Better Business Bureau can help you determine the answers to these questions and many more.
The more prepared you are with this knowledge, the more you’ll know to expect when it comes time for the interview. In fact, it can be helpful to begin this preliminary research prior to even getting a call back; you never know when you’ll be contacted for a prompt phone or web interview with only so much time to prepare.