Researching a Company
All right, you’ve got a job interview; now what steps do you take to prepare for it?
Understand the Job Position
Network and talk to people who have similar titles in and outside the company. Ask, “Why is this position valuable to the company?” Then take the answers and see how your skills match these requirements. Research is an important part of preparing for an interview, and the more important the interview, the more research is needed.
Understand the Company
Look up the company’s information on the Internet. Determine what they value and what their industry is like. In the interview you can clarify what you know and ask questions to gather more information.
Internet – When researching a company, start with its Web site. What’s on a company Web site?
Mission statements – This is a good source for key words to use in a power statement. Remember that it is not about what the company can do for you but what you can bring to meet the company’s goals.
Annual reports – These are clear, concise descriptions of the company and have specific details about profits, procedures, and philosophies. They are also a source for understanding company terminology.
Goods and services provided – Knowing what specific products the company supplies and their pricing helps you better understand the types of customers the company serves.
Customers – Knowing this gives you another idea of what the company provides, and if you have dealt with a client company, this could be a networking opportunity.
Frequently asked questions – Use these questions as a springboard for thinking of new questions for your interview.
Special programs the company sponsors – It is important to serve others while you are pursuing a job, and this will help you find service opportunities with the chance to talk with people who understand the industry.
Locations – If you know the layout of a specific city or geographic area where the company does business, it could help to mention it in an interview.
Lists of executives or owners – Look for these names on networking sites to learn about their priorities and the organizations they are connected to, such as a favorite charity.
In many locations, additional Web sites exist to help you learn more about specific companies or industries. Contact the nearest Church employment center or self-reliance center for a list of useful Web sites in your area.
If possible, talk to people who work for the company, their customers, and even their competitors. They are the best sources for the latest news and trends in the company. If you do not have any current contacts, one idea is to go to the company at the end of working hours and strike up a quick conversation with the employees. You want to know normal functions about a company: its successes, challenges, and who are its competitors and why. Show that you are someone honestly researching information so you can be prepared for your interview and not waste the company’s time.
Here are some questions to ask employees:
What do you like about the company?
What are some of the company’s successes?
What kind of a supervisor is Mr./Ms.______?
What are the challenges you see for the company?
Why is this position available? How many people have had this position lately?
Which companies does this company compete with in the market?
Other Research Sources
Here are some local resources for researching companies:
Business journals – These are printed publications that report on local businesses and local industries.
Chambers of commerce – This is a business federation made up of local, state, or nationwide companies.
Industry groups or trade groups – These are local organizations that support a particular trade or craft.