If you want to position yourself as a “stand out” candidate, make sure you extensively research your potential employer prior to your interview. Candidates who do their homework, know their interviewer and understand the needs of the company make the best impression. I recommend performing at least three hours of research and preparation for every one hour of interview time.
Here is some key information to look for when researching a company:
Are your experience and skills a match?
Review the company’s career page and job descriptions. What hard and soft skills is the company looking for in their employees? Reach out to past employees through LinkedIn and ask them about the company. What does the company value most in its employees. Make certain the fit is right for you.
Does the company have a competitive advantage in its industry?
Research the company’s competitors. Is the company an industry leader or an industry follower? What new products or services is the company bringing to market? Are the markets that the company serves expanding or contracting?
Review this information, as well as, any other basic information such as company history. You don’t really want to ask your interviewer a question about the company whose answer is front and center on the website.
LinkedIn is a great place to look up competitors. Go to the company page and scroll down to “Other Companies People Viewed.” Review the company’s competitors. You should be able to get a pretty good sense of who the other players are in the industry. Are they hiring?
Are you a fit for the company’s culture?
Make sure you honestly believe that you are a good fit for the company. Follow the company’s social media networks. Do you see yourself included in these posts in the future?
Check out Yelp.com, Manta.com, Careerbliss.com and the Better Business Bureau. How is the company is rated? Review Glassdoor.com to find out what positive or negative reviews that former employees posted about the company.
Check out the company’s financial health.
Navigate to the “Investor Relations” tab on the company’s website. Access their annual report and 10K report. These publications cover a wide range of financial that topics you won’t find elsewhere. Review areas such as company risks, new products and revenue revenues trends. Is the company stable and growing? If you are interviewing a startup, check out crunchbase.com. You can get funding information, recent hires, relevant press coverage and more.
Think like an investor. If you would not invest in this company, why would you want to work for it?
Review the company’s products, services and its clients.
Who are the company’s clients and what products and services are does the company offer? Do you personally use the company’s products? If not…why not?
Read through company blogs, white papers, case studies and more to give you an idea of their accomplishments.
Has the company recently been in the news?
You should always go into an interview having researched the company’s latest news and updates.
The company website should have a page dedicated to events and press releases. Check it out. Read the corporate blogs and research the company on Google. Is the company active in the community? What charitable organizations does it support? Perform this search on Google.com: (Company Name) business issues. What do you see?
LinkedIn is a good tool for picking up company news. Check its LinkedIn company page. You should download the profiles of the people you will be interviewing with and review the profiles prior to the interview.
Check out the company on Twitter and Facebook. Are the profiles professional or casual? Is there any recent activity? Remember any positive posts you find during your research to use during the interview.
Know your interviewer.
Research your interviewer on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Find out as much about your interviewer as possible and perhaps even some common interests.
Build trust with your interviewer by being genuinely interested in his or her background, interests and accomplishments. Remember, the final hiring decision will be made by a person not a company. People hire candidates they know, like and trust.
Be that candidate!
Ken Lazar, Principal
Ability Professional Network, LLC
Professional Sales Recruiters