When you have been invited for a job interview it is not uncommon to experience that feeling of dread and excitement as your interview date approaches. It can feel a whole lot worse if you don’t know much about your new potential employers.
Even when you have sent in your resume and application without any background knowledge of the company, you can still walk into your interview as if you have known about them for years.
Here are some ways to help you research the company before your interview:
Identify the company’s strong points
It can be quite easy to pinpoint what the company’s main strengths are or how they differ from their immediate competition. The companies themselves will often give you this information through their website and company literature.
Quite often you will see a company brag about its achievements in the press or on social media. A quick study of their mission statement and company ethos will alert you about what makes them different from others.
Let’s say for example that you were going for a job with an energy company. They may claim that they are a leading company for investing in sustainable green energy. That is a good thing to know.
At interview you can mention that you are passionate about protecting the environment and support the use of green energy. You could add that this is one of the main reasons you are attracted to their company.
As you look through the company website, check out a few of the basics that you should know before attending your interview – such as the history of the company, the size and location of other bases if they have any, how many people they employ and their plans for the future.
Check out the company wealth
You will want to win a job with some security, so it makes sense to look at the health of the company’s financial situation. Check to see what corporate sponsors or business partnerships they have. Larger companies will post their annual reports so you can get an idea of their revenue growth.
If you are applying for a position with a new start-up company, then check them out on Crunchbase.com to see what recent funding they have had, recent hires and read press releases and news about them.
Although this information may be really useful to reassure you about the stability of the company, it is not really something that you would normally bring up in conversation during your interview. However, it will enable you to speak confidently about where you believe the company is heading, and that can be very impressive at interview.
Read the company social media
Most companies will have social media accounts these days, especially LinkedIn for their professional business profile. It can be very insightful to catch up with what the company has been posting and what sort of relationship they have with their followers.
LinkedIn is a great place to check to see if there are profiles for the people you will be interviewed by. It is always good to be prepared so getting an idea about the interviewers, their role at the company, how long they have been there etc. can give you an advantage at your interview.
Check to see if the company has a corporate blog to read. These can often be hidden goldmines of information that can prove very useful for a prospective employee. Blogs can also give you an indication about how fast a company is growing, especially if it is a new start up.
Learn the company culture
By reading up about the company via their website, blog and social media accounts you will be able to get a good idea about their corporate culture. But it also helps to ask around friends and relations to see if you can find someone to talk to that worked there, or still does.
Learning a little about the company culture before your interview will help you to realise what makes the company so special, but it will also help you to avoid topics or ask the wrong questions during your interview.
It is also useful to be able to talk about the industry or business sector as a whole. Knowing a little about the competition and how the company fits better into their niche will always impress at interview.
You can look up the competition by looking on LinkedIn. Check the ‘Other Companies People Viewed’ section near the bottom of the company page. You will see a few competitors listed there. You don’t need to do much research here, just pick up on the ‘big picture’ information about them so you can talk with confidence about the competition if needed.
OK, you may not use every bit of information you learn, but it will give you the confidence to walk into your interview and come across as more knowledgeable than other interviewees.
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