If you’re searching for a new opportunity, one of the most important activities you must do is research the company you’re applying at. Ideally, you want to do this before you even apply, but some people will wait until they’re scheduled for an interview.
Doing your company research is essential. Recruiters and hiring managers place importance on how prepared a candidate is for their interview. In an article for Fast Company, Criteria Corp CEO Josh Millet said one of his favorite interview questions is “How did you prepare for this interview?” His logic is if a candidate prepares well for an interview, it demonstrates a genuine interest in the company and an ability to focus on details.
It’s not hard to research an organization, but it can be time consuming. Here are five things to consider when you need to do company research:
1. Check out the organization’s website. This might seem obvious but it’s amazing how many people don’t do it. Find out about the company’s products and services. Review the “About” page, including who’s on the leadership team. Also look at the newsroom page for recent articles about the company and news releases.
2. Look at the company’s social media accounts. If you’re not following the company on social media, consider doing so. See how often the company posts information, what it posts and who it interacts with. Many large employers have career pages you can follow. Also look at the company’s YouTube videos to see what it’s publishing.
3. Do a Google search for the company. Review the first couple of pages to see what shows up. If the company has a Yelp or Trip Advisor account, see what customers are saying about them. Also, when reviewing the Google search, click on the “News” tab to see what’s been aggregated.
4. Read what people are saying on Glassdoor and Indeed. Speaking of reviews, Glassdoor and Indeed give candidates and employees an opportunity to post reviews about the company. While this step is pretty obvious, consider not making it the first thing on your research to-do list. Develop your own opinions first, then go read other people’s reviews.
5. Talk to current and past employees. Search your LinkedIn connections to see if you know any past or current employees. If you have any questions after completing steps 1-4, see if you can ask an employee for his or her thoughts. Individuals who have first-hand knowledge could offer a different perspective.
While company research might be primarily used for a job search, there are other reasons to do it. You might want to know a little more before you support an initiative the company is proposing, or you might want to learn more about a manufacturer before making a major purchase. Regardless of the reason, it never hurts to know more about an organization you’re planning to be affiliated with in some way.
One sure way to disappoint a company during the interview process is to sound like you didn’t do any research about them before showing up. And you can’t fake it. Companies will know you didn’t take the time. So, plan to invest the time and research the company. Your career will thank you for it.