What You Should Know About a Company Before You Interview
It goes without saying that you need to be well-prepared before going into an interview. Savvy job seekers understand this and make sure to wear the right attire, bring a list of questions to ask and know what types of questions to expect from the interviewer. Most importantly, you need to have done your homework and have pulled together information on the company, as knowing certain facts can help you make a big impression in many ways. But what information should you research?
Following is a list of the things you should know about a company before you step into that first interview. You can easily research this information by going to the company’s website, checking out company profiles on social media (particularly LinkedIn) and using search engines such as Google.
The Company Basics
Above all, you want to make sure you have the correct basic information --- the precise name of the company, its history and background (e.g., when it was founded, as well as past and current growth), its industry and the scope of its business, and how the position you are interviewing for fits into the organizational structure. This information should be found on the website but may also be included in a company description with the job listing.
Skills and Qualities the Company Seeks
You need to get a picture of the company’s ideal candidate for the position you are seeking. With that knowledge, you can emphasize what you offer that presents you as the best fit. You can get a good idea of their ideal candidate by closely reading the job posting, focusing on the responsibilities and duties it outlines, then determining which of your skills and experiences match up.
Company Culture, Mission and Values
You want to go beyond demonstrating you have the required skills and experience, and also demonstrate that you are a fit with the company’s culture and can relate to its mission and values. You can get a sense of company culture by going to the company website’s “About Us” section, which often also includes the company’s mission statement and core values. The company’s social media pages can complete the picture. To get an employee perspective on the company, you might want to check out employer review sites such as Glassdoor or find current or past employees to network with on social media.
What the Company Does
Employers want to know that you understand what they do, so it’s crucial that you are up to speed - at least in a general way - on what the company does and/or what it sells. You don’t need to know intricate details about its product and services, but you want to be able to articulate what they are. You also want to know who they sell or provide their products or services to. With this information, you can get an idea of the type of work you might be doing.
Recent Company News and Events
One way you can show that you are genuinely interested in working at a company is by going into the interview with knowledge about recent company events, moves or changes and current industry conditions. The company’s “News and Events” or “Press Room” on their website would list recent press releases and recent events at which the company presented or exhibited. An Internet search on company news would yield recent media coverage the company received.
The Company’s Competitors
Another way to show the company both your interest in the position and an understanding of its industry, is by pinpointing who the company’s main competitors are and researching them in the same way you researched the company. Try to determine what sets the company apart from its competitors - what makes them unique, better or different from other players in the industry. This information should be easy to find on company websites.
Key Company Executives
Knowing who the upper level managers are, especially the President, CEO and head of the department in which you want to work, will be crucial if their name comes up in the interview or you potentially meet them. You can find out who the key executives are by visiting the company website’s “About Us” section, which will likely have a list of upper management personnel with short bios. You can gather more information on these people by visiting their LinkedIn profiles.
Who Will Be Interviewing You
When you go to an interview, you could be meeting with one person at the company or a team of people, and the interviewee could be a member of the HR team or your future boss. When you are contacted for the interview, don’t be afraid to ask who you will be meeting with and their position. Even if you only get their name, you can look them up on LinkedIn to get more details on their role and their background, etc.
The Company’s Hiring Process
Ideally, when you go into an interview, you want to be aware of the steps and timeframes the company has for filling the position. This information will give you an idea of the number of interviews you may need to prepare for, the number of people or teams you will meet and how long the company will take to move from one round of interviews to the next and make its final decision. You may be able to get this information through the company’s human resources department or when initially contacted about scheduling an interview, but often you will learn this information during the first interview.
Going into an interview with complete knowledge of relevant information on the company, its industry and its people will show you have a genuine interest in the position you seek - one of the most important things employers look for in a job candidate. It’s one way to set yourself apart from other candidates and boost your chances of getting hired.
While the company information you gather will help show your interest, knowledge and preparation, it will also help you decide whether this is a company you would like to work for. You can determine not only whether you are the right fit for them but whether they are the right fit for you.
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