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How to Research the Company Before a Job Interview

by THEA kelley | July 2, 2020

Employers want to hire someone who is deeply interested in their company. Obviously, a really interested candidate will research the company before the interview.

When you’ve done your homework, it shows. Your answers to the interviewers’ questions will be more relevant and the questions you ask will be well-informed. You’ll be more likely to get an offer, and better able to judge whether you want to accept it.

It doesn’t even need to take a lot of time.

First, spend 30-60 minutes online, as follows.

You’d be surprised how much you can learn in 30-60 minutes by skimming the following resources:

  • The investor relations page of their website. If you don’t see a link to this on their home page, try a web search like “investor relations (company).” Some of the resources found here may include annual reports and 10-K forms that can tell you how the company is doing, quarterly results conference calls, and press releases of recent news headlines
  • Headlines on their home page.
  • Results from a simple web search on the company’s name. After that, search again, adding the word “trends.”

Next, if you have time, seek informational interviews with current and former employees.

This is not only a great way to become more knowledgeable, it can also result in someone putting in a good word for you!

Here are two ways to use LinkedIn to find people who are connected to your target employer:

Job Opening Search:

  • Look up the job opening on LinkedIn, if the company has posted it there.
  • If you have 1st-degree LinkedIn connections at the company, they will show up near the top of the posting.

People Search:

  • Enter the company name into the main search bar, then select “(company name) in People” from the dropdown.
  • If the “in People” option doesn’t appear, select “see all results” instead, then click “People” at the top of those results.

This will show many more people. You may not know them, but that doesn’t mean they won’t talk to you if you go about it right. See my post, How to Contact Someone You Don’t Know on LinkedIn, for Free.

In your info interviews, put rapport and relationship first.

Keep the focus on their experiences with the company, not on yourself. Read their profile before talking with them. Respect their time; if you asked for “a few minutes,” make a point of ending the meeting within 15 minutes.

If they happen to become impressed with you and put in a good word, that’s a plus, but think twice about asking them to; after all, they barely know you.

For more tips on conducting this conversation, read my review of The 20-Minute Networking Meeting.

Then, use what you’ve learned to prepare for a well-informed, standout job interview.

The information you gain from your research will help you craft better answers to many interview questions, and not only “Why are you interested in working here/this role?”

For example, if you learned that the company has a “move fast and break things” culture, your response to the initial “tell me about yourself” question might include an example of a time when you took a risk to try something innovative.

It can be helpful to mention your conversations with other employees when it comes up naturally, for example when answering a question like “What do you know about our company?”

Many job seekers go no further in their research than reading the company’s home page. Follow the steps above and you’ll stand out as a candidate who is motivated, proactive, thorough and resourceful. So:

Always research the company before an interview–or maybe before the job is even posted.

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