How to research an employer for a job interview
Are you preparing for a job interview? Find out why you need to research your potential employer, and the three areas you need to focus on.
In a competitive job market you need to seek every opportunity to give yourself the edge over other candidates. From ensuring your LinkedIn profile is written properly, to making sure you understand how to construct a professional CV and cover letter, you need to treat looking for a job almost as a job in itself and invest proper time and effort in it.
And if you’re successful in being invited for a job interview, you can’t relax your efforts. To give yourself the highest chance of conducting a successful, confident interview it’s essential you prepare properly. And this includes researching the employer.
Why it’s important to research an employer
While you certainly need to talk about yourself and your achievements in an interview, you also need to prepare for the questions you may be asked. A lack of knowledge about the company you say you want to work for, or being stuck for answers when asked reasonable questions won’t make a positive impression.
In a job interview, employers or recruiters tend to focus on a few common questions when sorting through the most promising applicants. And a popular question to ask is what attracted you to the company, or your reasons for working there.
When answering these types of questions you need to demonstrate a good knowledge of the company, and be able to back up your reasons with a well considered rationale, ideally with facts or details about the company.
Good places to start your research include:
- The company website and social media platforms.
- A Google search of the company name.
- Industry blogs, news sites and magazines.
- Professional contacts who work there or know someone who does.
Three things you need to research before a job interview
So what specifically should you focus on when investigating a company? What details are you like to need or are most likely to make a positive impression in an interview?
To save you time trying to gather every last piece of information about the company, here are the top three things we recommend you research for a job interview.
1) Mission and values
Start your research by spending at least 30 minutes browsing the company’s website. And, according to Monster.com, their mission statement is a good starting point. This is usually a comprehensive outline of their values, and it can generally be found in the About Us section.
Ask yourself how the position you applied for relates to that mission statement. However, you don’t want to simply recite their mission back to them in your interview. Instead you need to guide the conversation in such a way that it becomes evident that you are in tune with their overall philosophy.
2) Company culture
Once you’ve absorbed the company’s mission statement and values, it’s time to find out about their company culture.
How is the atmosphere in their offices? How do interpersonal relationships between employees unfold there? You should be able to pick up clues for this somewhere online, if not on their website.
Different corporations aim to present themselves to the world in separate ways, and you need to be in tune with the specific method of your future place of work. For example, you won’tseem fit for a job with the Harrods Group if your demeanor doesn’t exude the same class and elegance its entire legacy stands for.
3) Recent achievements
Finally, you’ll need to ensure you’re up to date on the company’s most recent achievements – ready to drop them in subtly when you’re answering questions in your interview.
So, for example, if you are interviewing for a position in consumer electronics engineering with the McLaren Technology Group, it’s a good idea to find out what they’ve done over the course of the last five years that was notable in their field.
A company such as McLaren will deal with many different products and departments, so you need to focus on accomplishments that fit your particular area of interest. And while it’s important to thoroughly research industry news, don’t go too far back in time. Awards they won when you were in preschool probably won’t be relevant now.
Prepare for a successful job interview
A well-planned investigation into a company will give you a big head start at a job interview. You’ll show your interviewer that you understand the business and their values, and are genuinely enthusiastic about joining them.
Having some basic knowledge and facts up your sleeve can enable you to stand out in a field of otherwise similar candidates, and can make the difference between securing the role or being passed over for someone else.
Read more tips for a successful job interview
You can read more job interview advice in these articles:
- How to prepare for a successful job interview
- How to answer the 10 most difficult job interview questions
- A simple formula for explaining your career gap in a job interview
- How to follow up after a job interview
Scott Lawson is an HR manager devoted to his career. During his five-year work span Scott developed a taste for writing and helping others. This materialised into a website called JobApplicationWorld, that aims to help people tackle the hiring process.
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