Literally every single interview, regardless of the job you applied for and its seniority, will include questions that aim to assess your knowledge about the company you are being interviewed for. It is a universal fact.
Although a majority of candidates know it, a minority prepare themselves for that part of the interview.
Our rough approximation is that only 2 out of 10 candidates are well-prepared and informed about the company they are interviewing for. And that comes from recruiters who have interviewed more than 1,000 candidates for major, world-known companies.
This defeating statistic is even worse for small, local companies or start-ups.
Taking that fact into account, it means you only need to do the research on the company to set yourself apart from other candidates.
By researching the company, you will be prepared for all the questions coming from their side.
Also, it will be easier for you to come up with smart and straightforward questions at the end of the interview which show that you are interested in the company and the role. Based on that, you will be able to find out whether you and the company are a match-made-in-heaven.
From the employers’ perspective, knowing at least basic information about the company you applied for is an obvious sign of your motivation. skyrocket your interview performance as well as the chances of getting a job offer.
If we have managed to convince you of the importance of it, follow the next 5 steps to do thorough research on any company and to ace the upcoming interview with ease.
1. VISIT COMPANY'S OFFICIAL WEBSITE
Ok, this one is obvious.
Company’s official website is the best possible starting point with plenty of information about a company’s mission, history, services and products. You will also find information about the company’s culture and values.
Furthermore, there you can find information about events they have participated in, their success stories, awards, certificates and accomplishments.
Find the answers to basic questions, such as:
How long has the company existed?/When and where was the company founded?
How many employees does the company have today?
Where are their headquarters and in how many countries they operate?
What are the company’s most famous products or services (if applicable)?
How many branches they have in your country (again, if applicable)?
Most likely they will not ask you these simple, straightforward questions.
However, it is always a plus to know answers to them, just in case.
It would be a shame to ruin a good impression you have made at the beginning of the interview because you did not know the information you could have found in the first 0,00067 seconds after googling the name of the company.
After you have gathered basic information, expand your research.
Do an expertise-driven investigation.
It means you should pay attention to information important for the role you are applying for.
You know how every good hairdresser will immediately check your hair at the very first moment they see you? Or how dentist scans your teeth in a second, even outside of their offices?
You should apply the same approach here.
Put on your expert lenses and snoop around their website.
For example, if you have applied for roles in finance, check out their financial reports. Find out more about their financial status, revenue, turnover. Every company openly shares their yearly data, so you have an indefinite, direct source of information.
If you are applying for HR, check their job ads, see if they have any HR certificates or awards, think about their values, company culture and approach to employees. Also, think about their recruitment process. What was your candidate-experience like? They might ask you something about it.
As a potential employee in marketing, you should know more about their marketing strategy, target audience and recent campaigns.
You get the picture.
If this information is available online, they will expect you to know it. And if you deliver a good answer, they will not only perceive you as a motivated candidate but as a professional and knowledgeable one as well. Simple as that.
2. STALK THEM ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Companies that are following trends or want to be one step ahead of them (you can read as: all of them) are now all present at social media.
Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube channel... Most likely you will find the company you are interviewing for on some of these networks. Or even on all of them.
Take advantage of their social media presence - use all channels available to learn more about them.
The information you can find there is limitless.
And again, don’t forget to apply the same approach you applied in step one focusing on information relevant to your area of expertise.
What is great about the social media accounts is that you will not only get official information about their history, products, services, etc.; but you can also gain an insight into their culture communication style and values.
This information should definitely be taken into consideration when preparing yourself for the interview, deciding on how to dress for the interview or preparing your answers and their level of formality.
Hint: If you are applying for a job in marketing or employer branding, this is a mandatory step in your interview preparation. It shouldn’t be on your ‘nice-to-do’ list. It’s a MUST.
3. GOOGLE THE COMPANY
Use Google to broaden your research.
Google is your best friend when it comes to understanding the broader market.
Learn more about the industry. It is quite important to understand how the company you’ve applied to stands in the market and who their main competitors are.
Furthermore, you will not only read about positive aspects of their business that can usually be found on companies’ official channels.
You will also find the flip side of the coin. Information can include objective reports about lawsuits, scandals and other problems they are dealing with. This type of information is also important to know - your potential employer’s problems could become your problems too.
4. USE YOUR NETWORK
If you want to go one step further, you should hear employees’ opinions about the company.
Your network is the best source you have there.
Maybe you know a person who works or had worked at the company you applied for. If you don’t know anyone personally, ask your friends. There is a big chance that your close friends know someone, especially if you are applying to a big corporation.
In case you cannot reach anyone personally, use LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a great tool when it comes to connecting with professionals from all over the world.
The best contact person is the person who is already doing the job you are interviewing for. Simply type “job title + name of the company” in the search box.
In one click you will get the list of people whose profiles include these keywords.
Reach out to them. By contacting these people, you can get information about the job from the first hand.
Additionally, this is the only way to get information from the inside.
No matter how hard you try and how much extensive research you do, you won’t be able to find information about:
the team you will be working with
your future boss
challenges they are facing
and on the bright side - good things about working in this position.
To keep a scientific approach of the research and minimize subjectivity, we recommend contacting at least 2-3 people. You never know if you have stumbled on someone who can’t say a nice thing even about their granny, so it’s always a good idea to ask more people to get a more objective perspective.
Of course, these are all the questions you can ask once again at the end of the interview - just to hear a hiring manager's perspective too.
5. ‘GO-TO' PLACES
If the company has ‘go-to’ places for customers, one last thing you should do is... well, go to one of them.
The best way to learn about their business model is to see it from the first hand.
You will not only learn about their products or services; you will also get a feel of their corporate culture.
Observe their employees, their way of working, approach to customers and all the other information related to the job you want.
Even if they don’t have branches, you can observe the company and their employers while you are waiting for the interview. Below is an example of a candidater example who was interviewed for System Administrator job in the IT department.
While talking about his work experience, he said: “Currently I am installing and configuring software, hardware and networks, monitoring system performance and troubleshooting issues, and ensuring security and efficiency of IT infrastructure for more than 300 employers and the same number of workstations in a headquarter of the company. I have noticed you are using Cisco and a new video station for web meetings (Cisco phone one video station were in a meeting room where he was interviewed). This is the equipment I am very well familiar with as I use the same equipment and operating systems on a daily basis.”
Have you noticed how he smoothly included the information relevant to his role in his answer?
It was a simple thing to do, but it definitely set him apart from other candidates. And yes, he was offered.
Use his answer as an inspiration and include the relevant information in your answers to impress interviewers.
So, let's recap...
Researching the company is a mandatory part of interview preparation.
It's a simple, but powerful thing to do to stand out from the crowd.
And it’s not even time-consuming. If we exclude step 5, steps 1-4 can be done in 30 minutes. Even wandering around company website and scrolling their Instagram/LinkedIn profile on your way to interview can make a huge difference. Do the homework before your next interview and get that job.
A focused and thorough research on the company is a mandatory step in interview preparation. It is a simple thing to do that gives you a huge advantage when compared to other candidates.
Use all resources available: company’s website, social media, Google, your network, and their ‘go-to’ spots.
Focus on information relevant to your area of expertise and include them in your answers during the interview.
Wait for the offer. You’re welcome!
PS Want to go a step further with your interview preparation and skyrocket the chances of getting hired to 99,99%? Here’s what you need to do.