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What to research before a job interview
Mary Lorenz | August 9, 2019
Want to nail your next job interview? Here’s what you need to know as you prepare.
Preparing for a job interview is more than just practicing common interview questions and choosing the right outfit – it’s also about researching the company and the role. When you take the time to research, not only will you get a better feel for what the company is looking for and how you will fit in, it will also help you stand out from the other candidates. Employers want someone who is familiar with the company, and they will be impressed that you went the extra mile and did your homework.
Here are some key things you should know about a company before sitting down for the job interview.
What does the company do?
It may sound obvious, but knowing what the company actually does is key. Hiring managers almost always ask what you know about the company in order to gauge your interest level and industry knowledge. If you don’t have a good answer to this question, it tells the hiring manager that you don’t really care about the company – you just want a job.
What will the job entail?
While the interview gives you a chance to learn more about the intricacies of the role, you should try to understand as much as you can about the role prior to the interview. This will give you a chance to find out where you can contribute and prepare to discuss why you would be the ideal person for this role.
What are the company’s values?
It’s not enough to know what the company does, but also why they do it. Not only will you learn more about the company and get information that will impress the hiring manager, but you will also see how it aligns with your own values and further assess whether or not this is the right company for you.
Who are the clients?
A big part of understanding the company – and your potential in it – is understanding the company’s customer base. Who uses the company’s products and services? What audience does the company market to? Showing you understand the company’s customers and their needs will further set you apart as a knowledgeable and enthusiastic candidate.
Most companies will list their notable clients on their website. You can also check the company’s blog, case studies and white papers to find out more.
What's new and noteworthy?
Most hiring managers will already expect you to have an initial understanding of what the company does, but if you show that you’re on top of news and trends, you’ll make an even bigger impression. Take the time to find out what the company has been up to lately, and you’ll get a better understanding of where the company is going and it’s place in the industry. For instance, is the company launching any new products or services? Has it received any recognition or awards recently? Has it received any other recent press that is worth noting?
Who are the leaders?
Knowing a bit about the company's leadership team can be helpful in researching and preparing for an interview. Not only is it one more way to show the interviewer you’ve done your research, but you’ll get more insight into the company’s values and culture. Plus, depending on the size of the company and the position for which you're interviewing, you may find yourself meeting with one of these leaders in person.
Who is your interviewer?
Having some background information on the person with whom you’ll be interviewing can potentially help you prepare for the kinds of questions to expect. Get the name and title of the person with whom you’ll be interviewing, then see if you have any common connections who can offer any insight into this person’s personality. Otherwise, you can do some old-fashioned internet research. Look for shared interests that can help you build a rapport. (Feel weird about Googling your interviewer? It might help to know that they’ve likely done a little intel on you.)
Where to research
The following resources can help you dig deeper and get the insight you need for your interview.
The company website: The company’s website is the obvious starting point to learn about what the company does, its mission and its values (usually found on its “About Us” page). Most companies also have a dedicated “Careers” section where you can learn about what it’s like to work there, the culture and the benefits. Check out the company press room to learn about new or upcoming product launches, awards received or other company news.
Social media: Browse the company’s social media pages for more up-to-date news and exciting happenings at the company. Seeing how the company interacts with fans and followers on social media can also help you get a closer look inside the culture and values.
Company review sites:Third-party sites allow current and former employees to rate and review the company. Learn more about what it’s like to work there and what you can expect from leadership.
Google news: Doing a Google news search for the company will help you find information the company might not necessarily post on social media or its website. You may also find interviews with leadership, which will give you further insight into the values of the company.
Infographic: Top 5 questions to ask in your next interview