Research The Company Before Your Interview
One thing you must do before a job interview is learn about the company and position. Here are some ideas to help you get started on this research.
- Gather information from the web. Search the company’s website and look through the web pages to find product information, newsworthy articles, case studies and company related information.
- Search online for forums about the company, and what people are saying about the company.
- Contact the organization’s public relations or marketing department and ask for the most recent annual report and other company literature.
- Read current periodicals and trade journals to learn about the latest trends in the industry. These can be found at your local library, bookstore or industry websites.
For job descriptions, you can try looking in these publications:
- The Complete Guide for Occupational Exploration
- The Occupational Outlook Handbook
- Call or visit the human resources department and ask for a copy of their job descriptions. If you can’t get it, you might ask competitors for similar job descriptions.
- The Dictionary of Occupational Titles
Important things to find out:
- What is their market share (if available), and how do they rank in the industry?
- Know what salary range is typical for this type of position. Learn about the company’s competitors.
- Familiarize yourself with the employer’s organizational structure. Read the company mission statement.
- Who are their clients or customers?
- Know the full names of the executive officers, including the president, CEO, COO, and CFO.
- Familiarize yourself with the company’s products, services and brand names.
- Find out the locations of all operations, branches and divisions. In most cases, this could be found on the company website.
The manner in which you find information about a company will vary. The important thing is how you will use it and make the most of it for a great first impression in the interview.
Find out what the structure and scope of the company, and identify whether it is small, medium, or large. Is it a division of a larger company or owned by a parent or foreign company? Does it own other companies? Who are its strategic allies? Is it a local, national, or international company? Also discover whether the company has divisions and what they are. It is also useful to know at what stage of growth the company is in. Have they recently grown or laid-off employees? At what rate? Using the web, media, and personal sources, uncover as much as you can about the internal workings of the company.
Know the Customer
Moreover, it is useful to know how the company makes its money. Who are its clients or customers, and how many of them are there? Is it a family-owned business, or a start-up company funded by venture capital firms? Getting your hands on a shareholders report could be very helpful. This way you can determine what the company’s earnings or losses are. Compiling this information will enable you to assess the financial stability of the company.
Study the Market
You also must familiarize yourself with the company’s market. What products do they sell, and who are their target customers? If they provide a service, to who is it rendered? What is the nature of the products or services? These are the kinds of things you should be discussing when you sit down for an interview. In addition, it is also useful to know who the company’s competitors are.
Interviewing current or former employees will give you some insight as to how the company operates and how employees are treated. Are company earnings shared by employees? What are the salary ranges for various positions?
Is there a benefits package offered by the company? Additionally, you should discover whether employees receive training or mentoring, how many hours a week the employees tend to work, and how long employees tend to stay at the company. Finally, you might check to see if any complaints have been filed against the company. This can be obtained through the local better business bureau and your state labor office.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of doing your homework on the company or organization you are interviewing with. You should have a list of questions, and be ready to ask them at the appropriate time. You might also want to check the rating of the company on various job boards. Typically a company has a rating from 1 to 5 stars.
1 being the lowest, and 5 being the highest. If you consistently see a number of 1 or 2 star ratings from past employees, this should cause for alarm, and you should definitely bring this up In the interview.
Researching answers to interview questions is also important, and this will help you prepare for your interview. Doing this will increase your chances of getting a job offer, or an invitation to a second or third interview, whichever may be the case.
Here are some questions you can ask about the position and company which should give you a better handle on direction of the company with regards to this position and expectation for the role.
Questions regarding the position:
- Is this a replacement position or a newly formed position?
- How many people would I be working with?
- What are the hours for the position?
- How soon do you anticipate a decision being made?
- When do you hope to have the position filled?
- What is the accepted work attire? Business casual? Business formal?
- Who will be your direct report?
- How will your performance be measured?
- What opportunities are available for future advancement?
- What are the responsibilities and duties involved in the job?
- What type of benefits package is offered, and are they fully company paid or is some of the cost
shared by the employee?
- Are you capable of performing the job?
- Do you have the relevant work experience?
- Do the organizations goals and culture match your requirements?
- Will the job challenge you?
- Can you see future progression in line with your career aspirations?
- Will the role motivate you?
Questions regarding the company:
- What is the company culture like?
- What are some basic goals and objectives of the company?
- Is the company growing or planning to open new offices, locations, or facilities?
- Is the department growing? Will there be new growth opportunities in the future?
- What products and services does the company sell?
- Is the company growing or downsizing?
How does the company perform relative to its competitors?