Homework: Research Company and its Competitors Before the Job Interview
Congratulations! You’ve landed an interview with a company interested in hiring you.
Now your research begins – or at least it should. And here’s what we suggest digging into and why.
The best place to start
Take a deep dive into the company’s website and explore its web presence.
It helps to know as much about your potential employer as possible. In most cases, internet searches and company websites offer a plethora of information about a company, so you’ll be prepared to thoughtfully ask and respond to questions.
But a cursory search of the “About Us” section is only a starting point. Check out the entire site. In particular, pay attention to a company’s mission statement and core values. Reflect on how your own experience aligns with what the company is seeking in its new hire. For example, if outstanding customer service is listed, perhaps you have an anecdote about your past experience that illustrates that.
Know who the CEO is, and research other key players and their backgrounds in the organization. Company bios might be available on the site, or at the very least, names that you can plug into a LinkedIn search. Don’t feel shy about looking up the profile of the interviewer. The interviewer will know you cared enough to do your homework. Bonus: You might discover you have a connection in common or you share something — an alma mater or hometown. Finding common ground builds rapport during an interview.
Finally, make sure to review the “Careers” section. Find out what other positions are available. Review the job description so you can anticipate questions about how you meet the criteria. Be prepared with relevant examples.
Employers look for new hires who fit easily into company culture. You might be able to get a sense of that from the website, or even better, explore a company’s social media footprint, including Facebook, Twitter and a YouTube channel if there is one. Look for photos of company events. Learn what charitable endeavors matter. Be sure to read blog posts (like this one) to get a feel for communication.
Search Google for news stories on the company. If a new product was introduced, make sure you’re up to speed on the details. You might find nothing, but it never hurts to check.
Size up the opponent
Understand a company’s competitors, too. Consider typing the company name into similarweb.com. Scroll to the bottom to view similar sites. You can also review the company’s LinkedIn page and Twitter feed to see who the company follows.
Be able to identify the competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Understanding the full scope of the industry you want to work in will inform your answers. Be prepared with a full answer on why you want to work for a specific company over its competitors.
It helps to understand how healthy the company is, too. Many companies have an investor relations section on their websites that provides an archive of annual reports.
Not every company has a web presence. That would be something to bring up during the interview. If it’s a startup, go to Crunchbase.com, which can also give you investors, acquisitions and other marketplace research.
You’ve aced your research, so already you have a leg up. That should help your confidence. A word of caution. While it helps to understand everything about a company before the first interview question, you want to only address what’s relevant. Don’t go off message to show all the research you’ve done.