Q: How do I go about researching a company before I interview with them?
A: As a recruiter, I’m glad you’re asking this question! It shows initiative, which employers will appreciate too.
First, let me point out all the reasons why conducting research before an interview is so important:
- It will help you understand what the company does and what their place is in their market.
- It will help you form questions to ask during the interview. (For more information on preparing smart questions to ask during an interview, see my colleague’s recent post on the topic.)
- It will also help you form answers to the questions you will be asked during the interview. After researching the company and its products and/or services, you’ll be able to respond to questions with a better sense of what the interviewer is looking for and can use the language and terms the company is familiar with.
- You will learn the company address and can use that to practice getting to the location on time for the interview.
- You will learn about the company culture, its core values and mission. Often these corporate objectives are stated on the company web site. If the company has a blog, you can read the entries to get a sense of how its employees relate to their employer.
- You can find out more about the people who work at the company, especially the management team, including their background, previous work connections and experiences.
- If the company is publicly traded, you can search by its ticker symbol to find out about the financial health of the company, its major stakeholders and what people are saying about its future prospects.
- You can see whether anyone in your network works at the company or is connected to its employees.
- You can research competitors, which will enable you to participate in a higher-level dialogue and sound confident while adding to the conversation.
I recommend spending an hour to an hour and a half researching online. Start with the company website, where you typically will find an ‘About Us’ section and other pages with detail on the company’s products and services. You can also Google the company to find recent news articles. LinkedIn is a good source for seeing whether anyone you know works at the firm or is connected to its employees. Be wary of information or comments on complaint boards or web sites that promise “inside information” as they might be tainted by their source, i.e. a disgruntled individual.
About the Recruiter
Kristen Coppins has 8+ years of experience in the staffing and recruiting industry. As a Director and member of the management team at Professional Staffing Group (PSG), she oversees the new hire training and development program. Kristen is also a member of ASA’s Continued Education Committee.