A little extra research could make all the difference when it comes to impressing your next employer.
You found the job listing, applied, and now you have the interview. Great! But before you don your sharpest professional outfit and head out the door, you need to di a little interview preparation. The interviewer has your resume and portfolio. It's up to you to even things up. You need to research the company that's interviewing you.
Why? Think of it this way. An interview isn't just about whether or not they like you, it's also about discovering if you are going to like the company. It needs to be a good match. Think about what matters most to you in your career. Are you looking for advancement opportunities? Do you appreciate working for a company that is locally focused? Perhaps stability is your number one factor. There are a lot of places online where you can find good information.
Doing your research on the company and coming up with interview questions to prepare for ahead of time also helps you drop a couple of insightful comments during your interview that could make you stand out above the competition. Here are some of the simplest ways to find what you want to know about your next employer.
The company basics
At the very least, you need to understand what they do. What products or services to they offer? Have they had any recent successes? In most cases, the company's own web page should give you most of this. Take a good look at their mission statement to get a feel for what's important to them.
The company vitals
Who are the key players in the company? How is their financial strength? Who's the competition?
The bigger the company, the easier this information will be to find. Some companies put it on their own web page. A quick search of Yahoo Finance or the Better Business Bureau can provide some good insight as well. During interview preparation, look for major red flags here such as multiple lawsuits, complaints, or bankruptcies.
The company in the news
Do a quick Google search for the company you're researching and click the “News” button at the top of the screen. This should bring up any recent news articles that mention them. Good or bad, you're bound to learn something useful. Then, take a quick tour of their social media pages, paying special attention to Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter. This is where they broadcast what they want the world to see. Did they just brag about a big project? That could be a useful conversation piece in the interview.
The company culture
This is a big one. It's important to find a company that embraces a workplace culture that fits your style. Do you prefer a buttoned-up, no-nonsense workplace or do you prefer the more laid back and casual atmosphere? A great place to learn more about how employees feel about their workplace is Glassdoor.com. This is where you should go to learn about the atmosphere, pay, and possibilities for advancement. You'll find a variety of reviews, possibly even from people working in the exact position you're trying to land.
The company representative interviewing you
During interview preparation, try to find out who will be interviewing you and glance at their Linkedin page or any info on the company website you can find. The trick to making use of this information is to keep it subtle. Don't say, “I saw on your Facebook page you were just at the Grand Canyon. I love the Grand Canyon!” Instead, if she asks about interests outside of work, mention that you like to travel and list the Grand Canyon as a spot on your list (but only if it's true). A little connection like that can make you a little more memorable to the interviewer.
Researching the company who has shown an interest in you is really nothing more than expressing your interest back. By walking into that interview knowing the interview questions to prepare for and having a good understanding of what the company does, how strong it is, and how it likes to operate, you can prove that you are serious about your interest in working with them. Remember, it's not just about landing a job, it's about landing a job with a company that you'll want to work for, for years to come.
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