Getting an interview is tough in today’s competitive job market. With more people applying for each job than ever before, it’s vital that you stand out from the crowd. Doing extensive research on the company you have been offered an interview for is essential to help make you the top candidate.
Researching the company before you go for the interview will help you:
- Talk more knowledgably about why you think you are a good fit for the company
- Demonstrate your keen interest and enthusiasm for the job
- Show professionalism and diligence
There is a wealth of information you can access about a company prior to an interview and using this information can help you highlight your suitability for the role and the organisation.
Below are our top 10 tips on where to go when researching for an interview.
- Company’s Website
Always start your research by looking directly at the company’s website. This will give you a good understanding of what the company does, what industry they sit in, their core values and an idea of who the key players are in their current team. Make sure you are familiar with the products/services they are involved in.
If they have a “careers” section on their website, this is written specifically by the company so it will give you a firm understanding of exactly what they expect from their staff.
The next step is to do a Google search of the organisation. This will show the company website as well as other key information, such as news articles and recent changes within the company, which will be important to read through before the interview. You can also search on Google to find out more about the products and services the company offers. There may be reviews or articles written which you want to be clued up on before you get asked questions about it, or which you can discuss to highlight the extent of your research.
- Social media
Following the company on social media, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ will help you appreciate a company’s culture, what they are interested in and gain a further understanding of their core values. Some company’s may also have videos and case studies from their employees and clients which will help give you a good idea if it is the right company for you and a better understanding of the workings inside the company.
It is always worth looking up the interviewers on LinkedIn to see if you share any common interests or mutual acquaintances. This will help ensure the interview runs smoothly as there may be some common ground to discuss and will help you feel more comfortable. If you don’t know who will be interviewing you, call the organisation and ask.
You can also use LinkedIn to see current employees of the organisation. If you know of someone in the company you could use this opportunity to speak to them in more depth about the ins and outs of the company and, if they do a similar role or know of someone you could speak to, you could get a better insight of what the role would entail and be able to talk in greater detail in the interview.
- Specialist Company Information
If you are working with a Career Management company, they may have access to specialist resources which will give you more comprehensive information on the company. If not, there are also websites that can give you similar information, although they usually charge a fee, e.g. Companies House. This information can include in-depth financial information and structural changes within the organisation.
- News and Recent Events
It is important to have a strong understanding of the recent news and events of the company. A recent big news story might be something the interviewer brings up and if you are unaware about what’s happened this will flag to the employer that you have not done enough research. If a recent event has occurred within the industry which would affect you once you are in the role, you also want to make sure you are fully aware of the implications of this.
A lot of company websites have a separate ‘recent news’ section which would be a great start for your research. Also check out the company name under the Google News Section.
Showing you have a good understanding of a company’s main competitors and their services demonstrates you have done extensive research and are very interested in the company and how it fairs in the market. If you mention products that their competitors offer, make sure you show how the company you are applying for compares.
- Industry Information
As well as looking at competitors, look up the industry as a whole so you’ve got a strong understanding of how the industry is performing. This also shows you’ve read more widely and shows your enthusiasm for the role.
- Financial Research
A lot of public companies will put their financial information on Google and this is a great source of information for you going into an interview. It can show how well the company is doing overall, whether they are making cutbacks in the company and any future plans they may have.
- Job Description and Person Specification
Finally, make sure you have fully read and understood the job description and person specification for the role before the interview. The interviewer wants to hire someone who can fulfil all requirements of the role and who will fit in as one of the team. It’s also important to print it out and bring it with you to the interview, along with two copies of your CV and your research.
Using the above tips will also give an insight into the core values of a company, outlining whether the company is right for you and will be useful in reflecting their values in your interview. Doing this research will help make sure you are fully prepared for your job interview and are prepared for any questions about the company that may arise. If you want to stand ahead of the competition, make sure you have fully researched the organisation and are confident in discussing their services and background.
Katherine Vickery is resource manager