How To Research A Company Before An Interview
Start With a Standard Wikipedia Search | Use Linkedin to Research on Key People & Their Connections | Social Media - Public Updates & News, Customer Sentiment | Corporate Website
If you are being interviewed for a job, it's always best to research the company before your big day. You can find all sorts of information on your interviewer (stalking hehe!), their boss, and their company.
This article is a guide to researching a company before an interview.
It will help you find relevant information on a given company and help you prepare by discussing some great resources for researching companies prior to an interview.
Start With a Standard Wikipedia Search
When researching a company, start with a standard Wikipedia search. Even though there will be a ton of information for notable and reputable companies, the important sections of the page are the "About" section and the "History" section.
The About section will tell you a lot about what a company does, but it will also give you information on the types of people within the organization which can be useful. If the company is a large one, expect to find a section for each division or subsection.
The History section will be a lot longer and more detailed because companies grow and change over time. The amount of information in this section will depend on the size and success of the company. Primarily, you would want to use this section to get insights into how a company has progressed over time. Remembering important dates and landmark events can impress your interviewer.
Use Linkedin to Research on Key People & Their Connections
Linkedin is a great resource to find more information on the important bigwigs within any company. Knowing the important stakeholders by name shows you have done your homework on the company's key executives.
Better still, if you can recognize them in the presence of your interviewer - greet them or go for a handshake - this shows that you are alert and on the ball.
Searching for a person can lead you to fresh, additional contacts that have worked at the same company or have similar backgrounds. This strategy may help you find valuable connections that could later help you during your interview process.
You can also lookup an HR contact or someone who has recently interviewed at the company to get useful preliminary information about how the hiring process works (and what types of questions might be asked!). Knowing how the interviewer potentially thinks can help you hop into their train of thought and sway them over to your side.
If you can't find any history or background information on a company, then it would be wise to avoid them because their history will not paint a pretty picture of how they work now.
Social Media - Public Updates & News
You can also use social media websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn to research companies prior to an interview. Staying updated on their latest product releases, media releases and company news will help you stay on top of your game. This will ensure you are able to create ideas that are current and up-to-date.
Further, use these topics as relevant discussion points in your job interview.
The ideas you build on top of the topics will demonstrate a well-prepared candidate that is adaptable, updated and has a significant interest in the company's dealings.
Social Media - Customer Sentiment
It's also a good idea to see what people are saying about the company on Twitter, particularly if the company has a corporate Twitter account. This way, you can monitor their customer service level by reading what gets posted to their account.
Pain points and plus points should both be understood and you should try to anticipate how you will solve these issues should you get hired. You can also use this information to highlight what you would do differently if hired.
The company's own website is another great resource for job seekers to prepare themselves ahead of an interview. This is because it can give you a ton of information about the company.
It will help you identify what the company does and how they do it. Further, if there are any press releases or media coverage, you should read them to understand the context of your target industry and memorise examples where possible. This way, you will be able to best tailor your interview responses to address what is currently happening within the company.
The last thing an interviewer wants is for an interviewee to show up unprepared or uninformed. Being ready to discuss the company shows the interviewers that you are focused and enthusiastic about the job. It will help you sell yourself as an ideal candidate for any role.
Google as a News Aggregator
Most interviewees likely do not have the time to monitor all local, national and international news on a company before an interview. Don't stress. Just use Google News as your aggregator!
News aggregators can be tapped to determine what people are saying about the company in the media.
Find articles that are written about them and read them to get a perspective on how they are being perceived in the media.
Additionally, search for any related articles in order to get a wider perspective on why they are being written about. Of course, you might want to filter out results of opinion pieces if you are trying to get an accurate picture of what is happening at your target company.
Don't get too focused on one news source.
If you find that the same story keeps getting referenced, then that's a good indicator that it's a hot news item and everyone is talking about it. In this case, the same article will likely get cited frequently in future interview questions.
Industry News & Publications
Finally, there are industry news and publications such as Venture Beat and Mashable that offer an overview of the business landscape.
These publications contain a lot of useful information about what's going on in the world of technology, which can be used to create engaging topics for discussion or to form ideas based on current trends.
You can find similar information on TechCrunch and The Next Web. These online communities will be good resources to get a broader perspective on the market and provide you with details on new developments at companies in your industry.