How to research a company for an interview

By Robert Half 4 June 2019

Success in a job interview means focusing on the little details that go beyond your ability to recite your educational background and career history.

What is of great importance (and often overlooked by candidates) is prior knowledge of the company’s profile and its operations. The ability to demonstrate that you have researched these facts can signal your initiative and genuine interest in the job.

On the other hand, candidates who do not put in the time to research a company for an interview will often paint a poor picture of commitment to get to know the business in greater detail.

Here are some important guidelines that explain how to research a company for an interview.

Learn the basics

Start your research with learning the basic facts of the company’s profile to have readily available before the interview.

A few fundamental questions to research are:

  • Where are the company’s headquarters and global offices located?
  • How many staff are employed?
  • Who are its competitors, and how does your employer attempt to distinguish itself from them? Who are the top executives?
  • What are the company’s main lines of business?
  • Who are its clients?

Any candidate who intends to make a powerful impression should be armed with the answers to these questions.

For publicly-traded companies, corporate financial statements are another reliable source. They are usually available on the company’s website. A quick look at these will tell you about the company’s profitability, and shed light on successes and failures.

Company culture

Employers are looking at more than just your skills and education. They want to know that you will get along well with fellow employees and can assimilate into the workplace culture.

Your interviewers will be impressed if you can explain why the company’s culture appeals to you and how it can support your career development.

Take the time to review the careers section of the company website to learn about how the organisation fosters productivity in the workplace. Other aspects worth exploring include whether the company has an active CSR initiative, or whether the company has a clear training program for mentoring staff.

These types of facts can help shape not only your preconceptions about the company, but offer you a useful insight ahead of the job interview to demonstrate your prior knowledge and answer any questions related to business culture with confidence.

Go beyond the headline

News stories that mention your potential employer can expand your research efforts of the company. Knowing how the company is perceived in the public eye can showcase that you stay up-to-date on current affairs.

A simple Google News search can reveal recent or relevant stories about the company, such as spokespeople commenting on key issues, or the organisation being recognised for achievements in its field.

The news section of a company’s website can also provide useful press releases and media coverage links. Many organisations also maintain company LinkedIn pages where you can find posts about recent news and events.

Extra: Research your interviewers

If you have already researched a company before an upcoming job interview, going the extra mile to also learn about the managers who will be interviewing you could aid your efforts.

Companies generally provide the names of the people who will interview you, but if they don’t, be sure to ask.

Spending a little time to research the interviewer(s) on Linkedin could provide you with useful insights and details, such as their educational training, career background and tenure with the company.

These details can point you to mutual areas of interest that you could mention during the interview to establish a connection or conversation with the employer. You may have both attended the same university, or may have worked for the same organisation in the past.

Know how to research a company for an interview

Once you’ve completed your research, pull it all together. Note key points, topics and potential questions to ask in the interview.

As you converse with your interviewers, seek opportunities to demonstrate that you have prepared thoroughly for this job interview opportunity, and that you have put in the extra effort to understand the company’s business needs and culture, and identified how you can make a difference to them.

This prior preparation can differentiate you from other candidates, and could be the factor that pushes you to the top of the hiring list.

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