Hooray, you’ve landed an interview! Although you have the perfect power suit and have your interview answers down pat, you do need to thoroughly research the company before stepping foot in the office. You want to prove to your interviewer that you’re a dedicated, superstar candidate who diligently took the time to learn all about the company.
But where to start? Don’t worry, here’s a guide to getting the lowdown on the company and how to flaunt your knowledge to the interviewer.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user philsout.
1. Start with the basics: the company website
Your first stop should always be the company website. Here you’ll get the basics of what the company is all about – their history, values, mission, culture, previous work, product/service offerings, and the leadership at the company.
2. Stay on top of company news
Google search the company to find articles on their key achievements or anything catching headlines. Access their company news and press releases to keep up to date with the latest company happenings. If the company is making headlines for a particular event, you don’t want to seem blindsided and unknowledgeable about it. Instead, you want to seem well-informed and on top of the news.
3. Use social media to your advantage
I’m sure we’ve all used social media to procrastinate in the past—but now you can use social media to actually do your homework on a company! Look up all of the company’s social media accounts—their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Blogs, Google+. By perusing all of this, you will better understand the company’s voice, culture, and mission.
4. Know the industry
Apart from knowing the company, understand the industry as well. Understand what the big trends in the industry are at the moment and who the company’s competitors are. It’s useful to know the industry and the big players in the space. For example, the website Digiday compiles articles on Digital Media, Marketing and Advertising, so you can easily stay up to date on the digital marketing/advertising industry. Be sure to find some industry-specific website, blog, Twitter account, or RSS feed that covers your industry of interest to make sure you’re well versed.
5. Tap into your own network
Ask around to see if any friends or classmates have ever interviewed or worked at the company. This way, you’re get the first-hand details on how the interview might go and what it’s like to work there. If you don’t know anyone with a relationship to the company, use LinkedIn to find out. Try to find something in common with someone who already works there, like an employee who went to your college or someone who belongs to the same professional affiliation, and send them a message asking for a brief informational interview either by phone or over coffee to learn more about the company.
6. Use Glassdoor.com
This is a like Yelp for the corporate world. Glassdoor features first-hand ratings and reviews on the company and interview process from employees and interviewees. This is a great way to get the inside info, be better prepared for the interview, and understand what employees like (or don’t like) about the company.
7. Understand the job description
Take the time to truly understand the job position you’re interviewing for. Make sure to save the job description you applied to and underline the key words and qualifications pertinent to the role. If the given job description is sparse, you can search other similar job postings for just to get a better idea or even speak to people in that field. By getting a better understanding of what is needed for the role, you can deliver interview answers that speak to those essential credentials.
8. Know your interviewer
There is so much public information online these days, it won’t be too hard to find information on your interviewer. Look up more about their professional path and achievements, and even check to see if you have anything in common. If so, this can be a real conversation starter in the interview. For example, if you went to the same school or played the same college sport, that could easily break the ice and you’ll really establish a genuine connection with your interviewer!
9. Ask yourself, “How do I fit into the company and role?”
Now that you’ve learned all about the company, it’s time do some research on yourself. Take a moment to analyze if and how the company fits your values and your career goals. By being able to articulate why you want to work for this particular company, you show that you did your research and seriously thought about this. For example, if the company has a renowned training and career development program that you admire, you can say that you really value this in an organization and this is one of the reasons why you’re drawn to it.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user xianrendujia
10. Incorporate what you learned into your interview answers
This is your chance to show off your knowledge of any projects the company did or company-wide initiatives. Show you’re a big fan by stating, “I especially liked the XYZ campaign you did a few months ago.” You can even go into specifics about why you liked these projects or initiatives and how your experience can contribute to projects like these in the future.
11. Use your research to form interesting questions
Since you did so much research, you can stray away from generic, boring questions for your interviewer. Spice things up and intrigue your interviewer with more sophisticated questions like, “I see this company recently expanded into South America. How does this expansion affect this particular role? Does the company plan to expand into other markets as well?” By asking well-educated questions like these, you can showcase how genuinely interested and engaged you are.
12. Go above and beyond
If you really want to showcase your skills and get extra credit, go ahead and create a presentation or work sample for the interview. If you notice something that you can improve, go ahead and create a presentation on how you could improve it. Create a marketing plan, an ad campaign, design a sample website, build an app – these will all show that you can apply your skills to the specific job at hand.
When you’ve really done your homework on a company, it will naturally show through to an interviewer. This will prove that you’re valuing their time and you’re a hardworking, serious candidate that stands out from the pack. Make sure to reflect on why you want to work there, how it aligns with your career goals and values, and how your unique background prepared you for this role and how you can contribute to the organization. By being well-researched and prepared, you’ll feel more at ease and will wow your interviewer!
How do you research before the interview? Has doing your homework before the interview paid off for you? Share your own tips and tricks in the comments below!
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