Many of my clients don’t research companies before interviews and are shocked when they don’t land the coveted job. Ironically, the primary reason why candidates fail interviews is lack of knowledge about the company. Knowing about the mission, values, services, and products within an organization is integral to succeeding on a job interview. Check out the following sources to guide your company research.
1. Google- Use Google to find different pages. I use it to find company web sites, articles about the company, CEO, and the department, and the annual report of the company.
2. LinkedIn- LinkedIn is an excellent resource for company research. Follow company pages to find job openings, articles, and department heads. Peruse the Groups feature to find company and recruiter groups. Note that recruiters do post job listing within regional job seekers groups. Use this as an opportunity to connect to recruiters.
Another wonderful feature from LinkedIn is the ability to research your panel before you arrive on an interview. Connect with recruiters, human resources personnel, or employees at a company before your interview. Check their 2nd degree connections from their company or the department you intend to work for at this time. These “connections” are often members of your interview panel. Browse their profiles and record information on their professional passions, habit, education, or association that you have in common. This will help you make small talk during the interview.
3. AnnualReports.com- This site is another source of annual reports for companies.
A quick note about annual reports:
Clients ask me why I encourage them to read annual reports for companies. I know, they’re boring, and who wants to wade through strategic plans and statistics, right? However, I endorse the practice for the following reasons.
First and foremost, you need to know the financial health of the company. Research the net worth, total holdings, and market growth for a company. Unless you like working for turnarounds or realignments, why invest in company that may fold? If you’re leaving a bad work environment, you may be leaping from one bad situation to another one.
Secondly, you need to understand the direction of the company and your potential department. Are they expanding in your department or contracting it? How does your potential position fit with the bottom line of the company? If you can’t answer these questions, you’ll have a difficult time selling yourself to a prospective employer.
Finally, reading an annual report is essential for career management. Several clients have revealed in coaching session that they realized their annual reports hinted at possible layoffs, but they ignored the warning signs. Unfortunately, they didn’t heed the warnings and were blindsided by a layoff.
4. Hoovers.com- No, this isn’t a link to the famous carpet sweeper company. On the other hand, no one does market research like them. A great website featuring company reports, industry trends, and competitive insights for your field.
5. Wikipedia-Wikipedia is a quick reference for general information about a company. Don’t forget to check linked reference articles for talking points during your interview. Additionally, do a quick Google search to see if the company has its own Company Wiki. Employers want to see if you’re doing adequate research.
6. Yelp.com- Yelp isn’t just for checking out customer service at your local Applebee’s. Use the company reviews Information to learn how customers view the company. Are there problems that need to be solved? Create a few solutions before you attend the interview. They may ask you hypothetical questions to see how you’ll solve their problems, especially if you’re interviewing for a management position.
7. Glassdoor.com & CareerBliss.com- If you can’t contact an employee within the company before your interview, Glassdoor and CareerBliss are excellent substitutions. Learn how past and present employees rate working conditions, salary, and compensation packages before you interview for a company.
8. Know your worth: Use a salary calculator to figure out your “asking point.”- Many of my clients don’t know how much their skills are worth on the open market. I usually ask them to use a salary calculator at Salary or Payscale to help them determine their salary and benefits package. However, I caution them to use the median (most frequently occurring salary) as opposed to the average salary for your field to ensure that they don’t inflate their incomes.
Get started on your interview research with my Company Research Questionnaire. Simply download it from the Box.com widget.