If you have read any articles about interview preparation (and if you haven’t dig into our archives), they will almost always tell you to begin with a little research. We aren’t saying you have to go into great depth, but if you are meeting with a company for an interview, you should at very least have a good idea about what the company does, how they operate and a little about their company history. If you are worried and struggling a bit to prepare for an upcoming interview, channel your inner Sherlock and get investigating.
One of the great things about being permanently connected online is that we have buckets of information right at our fingertips. Searching online is one of the quickest and easiest ways to research a company you’re going to interview with, and the obvious place to start is their official website. Have a look around the site and try to get a feel for the company. Start by checking their ‘about’ page to understand how they position themselves.
Take a look at the careers page too, it will often talk about what it’s like to work there and give you an idea to their culture. Take a look at their blog, see what they are talking about to their customers and prospects. Just by looking at these few pages you will get a clear picture about who they are, what they do and how they think.
But don’t stop just yet. It’s also important to check out some unbiased sources from the internet aside from the company website. To get a bigger picture of the company, start off with a basic Google search. Try and find some recent news articles, see what they are ranking for and who is talking about them. If it’s relevant, take a dig into their finances or search for competitors by running some more advanced google search operators to find similar sites and which types of companies are linking to them. You don’t need to remember huge amounts but try to tailor what you research to the position you are applying for.
Another good tip is to find out information from current employees of the company you’re going to interview with. Check your LinkedIn account contacts and see if you know anyone working there or you have second and third degree connections that might connect you there. Pick up the phone, send them a message, offer to buy them a coffee and ask them for their opinion. Friends will most likely give you an honest idea about what it’s like to work there, as well as tips about how to act in the interview. Friends and contacts can be one of the best resources for really getting a truthful look into a company's inner workings.
Recruiters use social networks to find candidates all the time, but it can be a useful research tool for you, too. LinkedIn Company Pages are often very helpful as they provide short profiles with some simple but useful info about the company. It would be extra useful if you could find the profile of the person you’re interviewing with. Try and find out whether you two share any common ground (e.g. hobby or previous employer). This can help you engage with the interviewer and make yourself more memorable.
Facebook and Twitter can also be used to research the company. Take a look at the companies pages and profiles to see what they are sharing, it’s a good place to see what they find important to their audiences. Even Instagram can be a good place to look as often companies will post in office photos and you can see further into their company culture. See what kind of pictures they’re posting and have a look at the comments to check out people's responses.
When our candidates interview with a client, we always help them prepare as much as possible by providing them with basic information about the company and any recent developments such as an expansion into a new market. It’s always a good thing to go that extra mile when it comes to interview preparation and doing some research before hand will mean you can go to your interview more prepared, comfortable about who the company are and increase your chances to impress the interviewer.