Before you interview, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. Research that company now.
Company and Other Web Sites. For starters, zoom to the company’s website and get right to the source. Many corporate sites have an “employment” or “careers” link especially for job seekers. Not only will you find current openings and application information, they all feature extensive information on the corporate culture and philosophies, plus plenty of details on their operations. Read everything from company philosophy to media releases to executive bios. So much to see, all in just a few clicks. It’s inexcusable not to know this information inside out.
To research the company outside of its Web Site, check out Hoovers.com , Vault.com , and Wetfeet.com . These sites have extensive information about companies and industries. For an executive look at the business world, and for a comprehensive view, visit ceoexpress.com . This handy site is short on visual appeal but rocks on content. You can always count on Yahoo! Simply type in a company name and Yahoo! can provide a profile, stock prices, and recent news about the company.
The Daily Paper. Since most smart people keep up with current events, interviewers often ask interviewees where they get their news. It’s absolutely crucial to read your city’s most respected newspaper each day while you’re job searching. Remember Tess McGill in Working Girl? The Melanie Griffith character earned a big promotion by clipping New York Post articles. Keep your eye out for companies in the news to see who’s doing well even in a downturn. Don’t forget to check out the Help Wanteds; even if it’s thinner by the week, this section is still full of available positions. It’s even smart to watch your favorite morning news program the day of the big interview to make sure you’re fully prepared to discuss current events.
What to Know about the Company
Once you’ve located several research sources, you need to know what to know. Basic facts you’ll have easy access to—and that employer will expect you to know—include the following:
- Size of the company (Do they have 50 employees or 5,000?)
- Nature of the products and/or services offered (Do they consult technology companies or manufacture glassware?)
- Target market (Are their clients other businesses or consumers? What characteristics do their customers have?)
- General company history (Have they been around 50 years or 5 months? Have they merged or been acquired by other companies?)
- Company competitors (Who are the leaders in their industry?)
- Specific information about various departments that your position would relate to (Marketing, IT, Accounting. Which departments are most profitable?)
- Company environment and culture (Cubicles and casual Fridays or buttoned-up blue suits?)
- Recent news about the company (Mergers? Layoffs? New products? Expansion to other countries?)
- Information from the company prospectus or annual report (public, private, profitable?)
If you’re lucky, in addition to these essentials you might even run across information that outlines the organization’s upcoming challenges and then be able to sell yourself on a problem-to-solution basis.
Research Your Interviewer. Go to Google.com to search for information about your interviewer. This will retrieve information about an individual’s publications, their industry recognition, speaking engagements and other activities. If the situation lends itself, ask the interviewer to confirm that she’s the same Jane Smith who was quoted in the recent L.A. Times article about new recruiting efforts in corporate America. If you’re right, you’ll have won the heart of the interviewer. If you’re wrong, she’ll at least find it interesting that you took the time to find out more about her. In addition to performing an Internet search you can also ask the company’s HR department for a bio or summary of the person you’re meeting.
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