As a job seeker, you're often told how essential it is that you research the company before a job interview. But what exactly should you be looking for? Here are five things you should know about a company before you arrive for the interview.
1. The quick facts
Nothing's more embarrassing – or a surer deal breaker – than simply not knowing the basic facts about a company and the position by the time you reach the interview.
It may be hard to believe, but many hiring managers will tell you that sometimes candidates come in and aren't even sure of the name of the company. Basic facts like the industry and scope of their business, how the position you're interviewing for fits into the corporate structure and, of course, the name of the company are all crucial to your success in the interview.
2. The skills they want
Your main ultimate goal in a job interview is to convince the interviewer that you are the best candidate for the position. To do this, you need to have a good idea of what they would consider an ideal candidate and highlight the ways you fit that bill.
Sometimes you'll get lucky and the employer will literally include a "qualities of an ideal candidate" section in the job posting, but even if that's not the case, you can still piece it together. Carefully read and reread the posting, particularly the typical duties and responsibilities. Ask yourself which of your skills and experiences match up with these, and how you can articulate that connection to the interviewer.
3. The company culture
Being the best fit goes beyond just having the necessary skills and experience. In fact, one of the biggest benefits of a face-to-face interview is the interviewer can get a better feel for your personality and how well you'd fit in with the company culture.
Employers know that culture can be a huge selling point for potential job candidates, so finding info on a company's culture shouldn't be difficult. You can often find an overview in the "About Us" section of a company's website. Their mission statement and core values are often available there as well. Corporate social media accounts can be a good indicator of the culture as well.
Of course, the messages on these channels are often controlled by the company itself. If you want a less filtered point of view, check out employer-rating sites like Glassdoor, or find current employees on social media.
4. Recent news
Employers like candidates who are eager to hit the ground running, so coming in with an understanding of industry conditions, recent moves or changes made by the company and other relevant events is a great way to show the interviewer that you're serious about the position.
A simple web news search for the company is a good place to start, although for some companies this may not turn up much. You should also look on the company's website for a "Press Room" or "News" section, where you can often find press releases put out by the company.
What sets this company apart from its competitors? Companies are often eager to showcase what makes them unique or superior, so again, finding this information shouldn't be difficult. But rather than simply parroting their own messaging back to them, a committed job seeker will take it one step further.
Identify some of the company's chief competitors and research them in much the same way you've research the company you're interviewing with. Weigh the claims the company makes against the claims of their competitors, and come to your own conclusions. What differences do you notice?
A genuine interest in the position is one of the most important things employers are looking for in job candidates. Coming to the interview with a solid working knowledge of the company, it's industry and the requirements of the position is a great way to set yourself apart and up your chances of getting hired.
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