One of the most important things you should do before going to an interview – or in some cases before you even fire off an application – is to research your prospective employer.
Showing that you’ve done some research will go a long way towards proving that you’re enthusiastic about the role, and will also give you more to talk about during the interview. It will help you demonstrate how you match the organisation’s culture and values as well.
Here are our tips on what you should know and where you should look for it.
Even before you start your application, have a look at the company’s website and make sure you have a basic understanding of:
- what the company does
- where it is located
- the company’s history and defining moments
- who its customers/clients are
- the areas and markets in which it operates
- how, where and why it is growing
- big news from the last year or two – products or services it has launched, how it has reacted to changing regulations and economic conditions, any mergers and acquisitions etc.
- if you have an interview, search the interviewers, it is good to get a basic understanding of who will be asking you questions and how long they have been in the company.
If you can’t find details of the last few on the company’s own website, a quick Google search should do the trick.
Once you’ve reached the interview stage, you’ll want to start delving deeper into the company’s core values. These will often be on its “About” page, though can also be commonly found by examining the phrasing in its mission statement.
What you’re looking for here is not the “what” of the company but the “how”. Are things such as equality or fair trade important to it? Does it run any charitable endeavours? How does the company like to see itself, and how is it viewed externally? Looking at recent news articles about the company will give you an outsider’s perspective and further insight.
Nine out of 10 employers will search for you on social media before you walk into an interview, so it seems only right for you to have a look at their profiles.
You can tell a lot from the way a company presents itself on social media. This is the face it shows the public, and will give you a great insight into how it wants to portray its brand. Is it formal or casual? Serious or jokey?
In addition to the company pages, you may want to look up your interviewer. LinkedIn is a great place to start, and you may be able to find some extra topics to discuss, such as shared interests or similar projects you’ve worked on.
During any job interview, you want to make it clear that you understand the specific niche that the company is trying to fill. That means also knowing who its direct competitors are. It’s easy to know what one company does, but being aware of the competition means that you can understand the sector as a whole.
Search for some of the key terms connected to the company. This can sometimes be as simple as looking for firms in the same city, but often requires a bit more digging. Were there any contracts the company lost out on? If so, who won them?
Once you know who the competition is, you can make this a part of your answer to why you want to work for a specific company. What makes it different from the competition, and why do you want to help it become the best in the industry?
Use your connections
If you have a connection that can help you access inside information, use it. Do you know any current or former employees? Ask them what the company culture is like and how accurate the information on the company website is.
Job review websites
- Glassdoor gives you an inside look at company salaries, job reviews and interview questions for more than 250,000 companies.
- WikiJob is a candidate-focused graduate recruitment website designed to help students and graduates alike find out what careers, employers and interviews are really like.
- TheJobCrowd offers anonymous job reviews written by employees.