6 ways you must research a company before an interview

You’ve been invited in for an interview at a company you’re jazzed about. The opportunity is a perfect fit for your experience and expertise, and the pay is on par with your salary expectations. You’ve laid out your power outfit and you’re ready to woo them — but if you haven’t spent time researching the company, you’re missing the mark. While studying up on a company used to only mean glancing over their website, these days, there are plenty of other avenues that hold important information. As career expert Wendi Weiner explains, the internet is a playground for helpful insight that could put you a step above other candidates who don’t do their due diligence. Not only will you be prepared for anything they toss your way but you will definitely come across as uber-prepared when you can reference your research. Here, a guide on how to truly prep:  

Google, Google, and Google some more

If you’ve been single in the digital age or ever matched with a could-be partner online, you know how search engines are for your anxiety. With a few quick terms, you can figure out plenty about people, places and of course, businesses. That’s why Weiner advises Googling your potential employer and reading through the first five pages of results. “You want to know how the company is poised online as well as what others say about the company,” she explains. “Seek out as much info and investigative research as possible to see what’s out there about the company.” Keep track of your progress and bookmark what’s most interesting, so you can study before you head into the interview.

Check out the latest news

Given media is mass-produced, there is a solid chance your possible future employer has found themselves in the news. This is especially true for trendy start-ups who want to attract — and retain — top talent. Being part of the conversation around trends and insights within their industry is an effective and smart way to lure in new generations of professionals. In fact, those stories are likely targeted toward you, as a job seeker. That’s why industrial-organizational psychology practitioner Amy Cooper Hakim, Ph.D. suggests, well, reading the content! “Search for any recent news articles or segments that feature executives within the organization. Come to the interview prepared to share what you liked most about the interview or article and how it resonates with your work ethic, work-related goals, or experience,” she explains. “If the CEO was recently featured on the news to discuss expansion efforts, let the recruiter know that you saw that news piece. Then, share why the piece resonated with you and how hiring you would help with that company goal.”

Interview yourself.

When you’re scouting through Google’s results, head of content at Humu, Liz Fosslien says you can get a sense of what executives might throw your way during an interview Just take their corporate ‘values’ page, where they highlight what they stand for and what their goals are for the community they serve. From here, identify four to five questions you could easily see them asking… and then come up with answers. “This kind of pre-interview research and practice can make life a lot easier for your future self — and can help you feel less frazzled in the moment,” she shares.

Research the competition

A smart leader knows about their employees. About the state of their business About how they’re tracking toward their goals. And… exactly what the competition is measuring up. That’s why Hakim suggests educating yourself on what everyone in the space is doing. “Come to the interview prepared to ask questions about how the organization is different from the competition. If you notice something particularly appealing about the company as it compares to the competition, share this,” Hakim shares. “Mention industry best practices to show knowledge of the field and to demonstrate the added value that you bring to the table.”

Look at their social media and blogs.

Nearly all businesses — no matter how large or small — have a social media presence these days. And for those companies that are savvy about search engine optimization or desire an outlet to showcase their perspective and values, a corporate blog is a must. Weiner suggests taking the time to dig through what they’re posting, read their articles and ask yourself some introspective questions. “Does it align with your own style and work culture? What is the tone or voice of the blog and social media and does it correlate with your own style?,” she recommends. 

By understanding their approach, you can better understand if it’s a place you would feel comfortable, happy and inspired to be part of. Often times, how they discuss outside matters gives a clue to the internal dialogue, too. “Look at how the company discusses its employees and look to whether they share news and good about the work they are doing in the industry as well as the community,” she adds.

Research potential coworkers

Want to work with people you get along with? Those who motivate you to perform to your highest standard? And be part of an organization that contributes to the greater good with a supportive community? Most professionals do — and that’s why it’s mandatory to research your potential coworkers, according to the CEO and founder of ABS Staffing Solutions, Ariel Schur. “One of the most difficult parts of job hunting and interviewing is it’s hard to predict what a company’s culture will be like, and while there is no sure-fire way to know ahead of time whether you’ll like it,” she explains. By digging into the social media accounts of people who work for the company already, you may find an inside look at what it’s like to be part of the team.