5 Things You Must Learn About the Company Before Your Job Interview


Arriving to an interview as a well-prepared candidate can give you a huge advantage over those who chose not to take the extra time to learn about the company. Here are some quick ideas on what you should know going into a job interview. (See also: Questions You Should Ask at Every Job Interview)

1. Basic Company History

How did they start? Who is the owner/CEO/President? Did they start the company? Why was the company started at all? All of this info will give you an idea on the motivations behind the company you hope to work for, the people who built it, and where it is headed. (See also: Joining an Excellent Startup Company)

2. Awards and Important Press Mentions

Companies love to promote anything positive that puts them in the spotlight, so press mentions and awards should be easy to find. While this can seem like fluff in your research, it can show you the values the company has, what it's most proud of, and who its target customer is. A press mention in a fashion magazine is significantly different from a mention in the business section of a large newspaper, for example. Learning what the company is most proud of will help you flesh out what you should be saying during your interview; should you focus on your business experience or your passion of environmentalism? Know the company's key values, and figure out how to promote those in your own background that you share.

3. Company Culture

Sometimes a true snapshot of culture can be particularly hard to find. The Mission and Values Statements may say one thing, but what is it like to actually work at this place? Finding out any information can help you decide if this is a culture that you would flourish in, or if it is your own personal nightmare. (See also: Become a Star Employee by Thinking Like an Entrepreneur)

4. Who Will Be Interviewing You

Most of the time this information will be given to you, and I would suggest you leave it at that. Googling your interviewer for information can only lead to a creepy "stalker" feeling, especially if you bring up anything you learned during the interview. Just be sure to know the basics: who they are, what their title is, and their email and phone number. (See also: Leave a Memorable Impression)

5. What the Company Does

This may seem like a ridiculous thing to point out, but one would be surprised at how often I've been asked this when interviewing candidates at my own company. Take the time to learn about the company, on even the most basic of levels, to show that you took the initiative. Putting no effort into the preparation of the interview will leave the interviewer feeling like you won't put any effort into the job, either, and will put you at a huge disadvantage against a candidate that took the extra hour to learn about the company ahead of time.

And, as an extra tip...while you're doing all of this research on the company online, make sure to check out the info there is about YOU online. Make sure anything about you is something you would be OK with an interviewer finding out. If there are some details you'd rather not have impact a job interview, take steps to take it out of public view.

Have you interviewed recently? What kind of research did you do to prepare?

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