How to research a company before an interview
You've probably heard or read that you should prepare for a job interview by researching the company before you go in. It's good advice but hard to follow unless you know why, and what you should be looking for.
Why you should research a company before interviewing
Don’t rely on your improv skills to get you through your upcoming interview. Step into your interview with as much preparation as possible. Here are the reasons why you need to dedicate quality time learning about your next prospective employer.
To understand the job roles and responsibilities. Having a clear understanding of the job description gives you a blueprint on how to present yourself during the interview. That way you can show you’re the perfect fit for the role with strategic questions and responses.
To understand basic company facts and dynamics. Every company is different. Improve your odds of success during your interview by knowing a little bit about a potential employer’s target customer, the kind of products and services they provide, and challenges. This will set you up to perform better in your interview.
Knowing a few things about a company and what they’re looking for makes you stand out among other candidates. It also excites your interviewers to move forward with you.
What to research, and how
Now that we’ve discussed why you should research a company before interviewing, it's time to show you how to research.
Here are some of the things you should try to learn beforehand, and where to look, so you'll be ready to make a great impression during your interview.
Be sure to save a copy of the job description after you have applied. They may remove the listing for the job by the time they call you in for an interview. You’ll want to be prepared when you walk into the interview to understand how your skills line up with what they are specifically looking for in this job. If there are big gaps between what they are looking for and your skills and experience, be prepared to answer questions about how you will make up for your lack of expertise.
Pro-tip: Especially if you have applied to a few jobs at more than one company, be sure to take another look at the job description shortly before your interview so it’s fresh in your mind.
Make sure you have a basic understanding of what the company does and what its typical customers want. This not only shows that you’re interested in the company and what they do, but it will be a fundamental groundwork for you to give really good answers to interview questions they may ask you about why you’d be good at the job.
Pro-tip: Find this information on the company website in sections with names like “Products,” “About us” and “Careers”; through company social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn; or on Google.
Knowing about the type of competition the company is facing will help you answer questions like “What do you bring to the table?” and “What could we be doing differently?”
Pro-tip: Find this information on Google or Wikipedia.
Often companies will publish short bios of staff members. LinkedIn is also a good source of information about people. Check these out for people you may know in common or shared interests that can break the ice. Interviews are stressful, and researching the person who is interviewing you can give you an idea of what to prepare for.
Pro-tip: We don’t recommend going deep on research on social media profiles beyond LinkedIn. Some interviewers could get a negative impression if you send a personal friend request or seem to know too much personal information!
Interviews can be awkward, but by preparing yourself by knowing the company as best you can, you will be giving yourself a leg up on your competitors. Don’t limit yourself to just the company’s website. Be sure to do an internet search to see what is being said about the organization and any industry trends that might affect someone in that position.