How To Research A Company Before Your Job Interview

How To Research A Company Before Your Job Interview

March 14 2019

Interviews have stages and structures that rarely change. Regardless of the level or type of role you are interviewing for, you are likely to be asked a question that resembles:

“What do you know about us”

What you actually know about the company is important but this is a question that is rarely answered well so represents an opportunity to stand out and the good news is – it is not that difficult to stand out!

Having interviewed literally hundreds of people for jobs, I can tell you that most answers start with something along the lines of:

“Well, I know you were founded in…”

Please, if you take anything from this article, do not start with when a company was founded!

It is repetitive, uninspiring and bland.

Really, it tells the interviewer that you have flicked through their website. Maybe went past the home page to the ‘About Us’ section but that’s about it and what you say after that will fall flat.

How To Research A Company

For any interview, when researching the company, follow these steps:

  1. Go through the website – clearly, this is a basic but go beyond the home page and ‘About Us’ section. Download marketing material, look at video / audio content, understand a company’s goals, values, etc.
  2. Understand their competitive environment – I always ask people who they think our main competitors are. It shows me they have gone beyond to do research and have some sense of our competitors. Be proactive, include competitors in your answer. Remember, depending on the company / industry, we are in a globally competitive environment so direct competitors can easily be based in other countries.
  3. Look for news – a simple Google search should produce some sort of news article or report not written by the company. Also search for key senior people in the company, not just the company name itself. For most companies, you will find something and referencing that in your answer or even at a later stage of the interview is impressive.
  4. Research your interviewers – ah LinkedIn, where would we be without you! Really easy to find your interviewers on LinkedIn so you can see their background. You don’t want to become a stalker but understanding someone’s background can lead to finding commonality. Commonality in experience, interests, education, etc. builds rapport which is hugely important in making a hiring decision. LinkedIn will also show you a connection path – ie: who are you both connected to. Again, commonality but you can also ask connections what someone is like or what a company is like to work with!
  5. Ask your network – to me, someone who answers this question mentioning that they took the time to meet a current or former employee, ranks high in terms of standing out. Making the effort to think about your network and finding someone who you could speak with is impressive. It not only speaks to your level of interest in a role / company but it shows a bit of lateral thinking and a degree of being happy to go above and beyond.

Nailing this question will not guarantee you the job but it will definitely put you on the right path. For an interviewer, going beyond the standard answers, makes you stand out.

The five steps listed are not hugely time-consuming but will make a big difference and can help throughout the interview, not just the “What do you know about us” question!

Paul Smyth

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