How to Research a Company for a Job Interview


By:   |   Updated: 2020-03-27   |   Comments   |   Related: More > Professional Development Interviewing

Problem

"So, what can you tell me about our organization?"

"Just so I have a baseline, what do you know about our company?"

"What interests you about working here?"

Not having a quality answer to any of these questions is not going to be great for the rest of your interview, or your chances of receiving an offer. Yet, far too often, job seekers/interviewees simply are not prepared to answer a version of the popular interview question that most managers and many recruiters ask to gauge "what research/homework have you done?"and also determine "how serious and interested is this person in working here?".

Solution

To Managers, communicating that you have done absolutely no research about their company signifies a lack of interest in working there. On the flip side, demonstrating that you have not only done your homework, but are truly excited to work there can positively differentiate you and help you stand out above other candidates!

Prior to an interview, invest 15+ minutes to do some research on the organization, using 2-3+ of these 10 sources.

1 - Talking to folks in your network who work/worked there

  • Ask yourself "who do I know that works at this company, or has worked there in the last few years?" If you can't think of anyone, take it a step further by jumping on LinkedIn and doing an advanced search on which of your first degree connections work there who you might not realize. You can type in the company name and select the box for first-degree connections to identify who works there.

2 - Ask Recruiter and/or Account Manager

  • If you are working with a staffing/recruiting company, you are most likely working with a Recruiter for the positions you are submitted for. However, the Account Manager/Representative is typically the individual who has a relationship with the specific hiring Manager for the position you will interview for. Prior to an interview, you can always request to speak to the Account Manager if you would like to learn more about the company and specific Manager. You can ask questions such as "How long have you been working with this company? This Manager? What can you tell me about what it is like to work there, and/or for them? Does this Manager have specific traits they really seem to value in candidates? On the flip side, do they have any pet peeves related to interviewees?"

3 - Company website

  • This is typically the go-to research avenue; visiting the company's website and reviewing a lot of the pages and sub-pages. This should still be a part of your "Company Research" process, where you invest at least 10 minutes in understanding their history, mission/value statements and core values, any benefits they advertise, awards or press releases, clients/industries they support, etc.
  • BONUS TIP: Do they have a 'Company News' or 'Press Releases' page? Those would be great pages to scope out!

4 - Online searches

  • It is amazing what you can learn from a simple online search such as "ABC Company news" or "ABC company awards." Visiting your favorite search engine, running a few, quick searches, and skimming the first one to two pages of results would be a helpful research exercise!

5 - Glassdoor profile

  • There are a lot of social media platforms out there, and larger companies will have profiles and be active on the major ones! While you don't need to look at all of these, you should spend 5-10+ minutes on at least one page, maybe two (depending on how much time you have and your interest in the company). Glassdoor is the one where you will see the most employee feedback/reviews.
  • Take what you read via Glassdoor with a grain of salt, and don't form a full opinion based on the feedback. Some individuals use Glassdoor as a platform for venting or airing their frustrations, especially if they were recently fired/let go. However, it is helpful to read the reviews and jot down any trends you might be seeing, either positive or concerning/negative. Perhaps employees are all commenting on how great the benefits and company culture are! On the flip side, you might notice that this company doesn't seem to value work and life balance. If you notice a trend that concerns you, bring it up very tactfully to the Recruiter you are working with. For example, you can say "During my research, I came across some reviews on Glassdoor that were a bit concerning, referencing that the company doesn't value work and time balance. Have you heard that feedback? What are your thoughts on that?"

6 - LinkedIn corporate page

  • LinkedIn is where the majority of companies will share major company news, and other notable announcements. Out of all the platforms, LinkedIn is one we really suggest you spend some time on. For any social platform, investing 5 to 10 minutes checking out the most recent posts is more than enough to learn some information and get the gist of the types of content they share through that specific platform!

7 - Facebook page

  • Different companies have differing strategies for the type of content they share on their social media platforms. Facebook is one that seems to focus on sharing details and posts around company culture, which is something most job seekers are interested in learning about.

8 - YouTube channel and videos

  • While not all companies have a presence on YouTube, it is a great channel to do a quick search to see if the company you are interviewing at is active on this platform. Videos pack a bit stronger of a punch, and therefore you may gain helpful insights by watching a few videos, if any are available.

9 - Additional social media profiles, such as Instagram or Twitter

  • We recommend scoping out at least one social media channel, including the four mentioned above, until you get the information you need to answer the questions we lead with in the 'Problem' section. However, if you haven't gathered as much information as you would like, do a quick search on these other social media platforms! Instagram is another one where companies tend to highlight more around company culture.

10 - Other consultants

  • As a last resort, if you are still concerned about and unable to find the information you were seeking, ask the Recruiter/Account Manager/Staffing Company you're working with if it would be possible to speak to another consultant in this group. You can ask "would you be willing to facilitate a conversation between me and one of the consultants currently working in this group or under this manager?" We don't recommend taking this approach every time, but this can be an option if it's a group the staffing company has placed numerous people with! We would also encourage you to wait and have a conversation with another consultant until you have an offer, and maybe want more information about the role, team, project/s, applications, technology stacks, etc.
Next Steps

Before each interview, ideally the day before, do the following:

  • Invest 15+ minutes doing research, using 2-3+ of the sources above.
  • Jot down anything that catches your eye, and gets you excited, around their purpose, mission/value statement, core values, customers, products/services, benefits, culture, news, how they're using technology, etc.
  • Flush out any questions you have based on your research.
  • Practice a quick answer to "what interests you about working here?" or "what can you tell me about our company?" We recommend practicing this in front of a mirror and/or recording yourself. You'll be amazed at how helpful this is in preparing you for a successful response!


Last Updated: 2020-03-27


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About the author
MSSQLTips author Erica Woods Erica Woods has nearly a decade in the IT staffing world, an MBA, and is a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches.

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