Congratulations, you have an interview scheduled, but the real work begins before the interview called “Homework.” During an interview, the interviewer will determine if you’re a right fit for the company, and you want to make sure the company is a right fit for you. Landing a job is more than landing a paycheck; you need to ensure a job will add to your long-term career goals and add to your quality of life.
Many candidates feel the meaning of doing your homework for an interview is to just read up on the company and review their website, but in today’s market, you need to be the most prepared candidate they see. You need to know as much as you possibly can about the company, its mission, its problems, and how you can help make them grow and make money. It would be best to answer questions during the interview without hesitation; the more about the company you know, the more confident you will answer. Use every resource available to you before your interview, review the company and understand what their needs are so you can sell yourself. You need to approach the interview with a high level of thought and analysis to be super successful; the bigger the job titles, the more preparation you’re expected to do. It is appropriate to bring a list of your questions and copied research to the interview, as long it’s not an abundance of pages. Keep your notes and questions neatly on one side of your portfolio.
What to Research
You want to research different types of information about the company to get a better understanding of the entire company. This information will give insight into their business culture, history, and challenges they face so you can steer your answers to their question to their needs. It will also help you list important and meaningful questions you can ask them during the interview; this will make the interview more conversational than one-sided. Doing your homework will also help you answer the most commonly asked interview questions, which we review on our page Interviewing Questions.
- Company Website – A company website will set the tone for how the company wants to be seen, but you can find a lot about its story, history, mission statement, and philosophy. On many company websites, especially if they’re public, you can find out names and information on their top-level executives; you might even come across someone who you worked with within the past. Many have a section (Press Room, Investor, or News) where you can find their latest annual or quarterly reports and news on the company.
- Google the Company – This will give you a list of sites with information on the company; many listings may be directly connected to the company’s website, so don’t just look at the 1st page of search results; review several pages. Take note of how old some of the information is on the Google search; you don’t want to ask many years out of date.
- Google Yourself – Review what a Google search reveals about you and be prepared to answer any questions the interviewer may ask if they did an online search with your name.
- Google Your Interviewer – When you are setting up your interview, get the title and name with the correct spelling of who will be interviewing you. Google these individuals to get their career history which can lead to someone who might know or who worked with them; it can also give an insight into the direction the interview might take. Also, having a conversation with the interviewer about where they came from and why they joined the company is an excellent topic to discuss.
- Linkedin & Facebook – Reach out to your network and let them know what company and who you will be interviewing with; you might be surprised how many will know the company or interviewer and can give you valuable information for your interview. If you’re still employed and looking to change jobs, you will need to be careful with this method, so your job search doesn’t get back to your current employer.
- Recruiters – If you are working with a recruiter, reach out to them; they want you to succeed. Ask them questions about what key items the interviewer and company are looking for. If other candidates are interviewed for the position, ask the recruiter what the company liked and dislikes.
- Blogs and Message Boards – Read through any blogs or message boards for the company or industry to gain additional insight.
- Other Websites – These sites can provide information about the companies you’re interviewing.
www.GlassDoor.com – (free membership) Glassdoor will give you an overview of the company (choose company under search), it will also give you reviews about the company and interviews with them, but these are written anonymously by employees or job seekers. Each reviewer gives the company a rating and pros/cons about the company, similar to product reviews you find on items you research. You need to understand that sometimes disgruntle employees might unfairly lash out against the company for unjustified reasons, but take note of any trends with these reviews.
www.Vault.com – (free and paid membership) Industry blog, discussions, newsletters company, profession, and industry overviews. Get the inside story with exclusive in-depth profiles of top employers. Employer rankings are the best to work for in your industry; employee reviews, survey respondents share their real-world experiences about your potential employer, workplace, culture, getting hired, and more.
www.Hoovers.com – ( free trial, paid membership) A comprehensive insight and analysis about the companies, industries, and people that drive the economy. Offering proprietary business information through the internet, data feeds, wireless devices, and co-branding agreements with other online services.
www.BBB.org – Better Business Bureau, find out what clients and customers a saying about the company.
www.forbes.com – Review current business news articles on companies.
www.Bloomberg.com Review company snapshots, news & press releases, key statistics,
financials, and the company profile and executives.
http://online.wsj.com/home-page – Review current business news article on companies.
- Library – Take a trip to your local library and speak to the librarian for assistance. Many libraries stock research resources that can give insight on companies and industries.