How to Research a Company for an Interview

How to Research a Company for an Interview by Surface on Unsplash

To Impress at an Interview, You’ve Got to Do Your Research on the Company

Congratulations! If you’re reading this then you probably have an interview coming up and I’m going to help you ace it. Impressing interviewers is simple really, you just need to know your stuff. And to do that you need to take the time to research the company before the big interview.

But that’s easier said than done. Where do you start with research? What’s too little and what’s too much? How do you make sure you come across as informed and not creepy?

When I’m preparing for an interview I always try to cover these four research steps. This way, I know I’ve covered my ground and I’m set up for success.

Step 1 – Let’s Use LinkedIn

As soon as you get that magical interview invitation email, take a note of the person interviewing you. This is a vital piece of information – you can’t do your research without it! If your interviewer’s name wasn’t given to you, be sure to ask for it. This is a normal thing that applicants ask for, so don’t be worried.

Now that you’ve got that magical name, we’re going to open LinkedIn and find them. If you’re struggling, find the company’s page and go to their employees. You should be able to find your interviewer in that list if they’re an internal recruiter.

Now I want you to click on their profile and dive deep. I always start by looking at their education and work history (making a note of anything I could relate to) before deep diving into their activity. This is really where it’s at.

If they’re an active LinkedIn user, you should be able to get a sense of the industry news they care about. This is obviously really valuable for building up that essential rapport with your interviewer.

If your interview is being managed by an external recruiter, you can still try to find them on LinkedIn, but know that this step is a lot less vital. Instead, find someone (hopefully in the company) with the job you want (or one similar). Put your stalker pants on and check out their employment history, activity and education details. Take note of any similarities between them and yourself: they’ve already been successful, so mimicking them is always a good idea.

Step 2 – Take to Twitter

This is my favourite part of the stalk – ahem – I mean research. It’s also make or break. You could find out that your interviewer is a great person… or a horrible one. And on top of that, your interviewer could be really active on Twitter… or they could have an empty shell of a profile they made in 2015.

If you’re lucky and you can scroll through hundreds of tweets, slow down a second. A quick browse through the people they follow and recently engaged with can tell you a lot about a person.

But switching over to look at the posts they’ve liked is even more effective. Here you can really gauge their personality, interests and imagine talking with them.

This part of the research should also hopefully put you at ease. Your interviewer is just a normal person! Score!

But we’re not done yet.

3 – The Website Watch

Ok, now that we’ve seen a lot more than we feel comfortable with, let’s scale it back. Taking an honest trip to the company website can tell you a lot about how they work and what kind of person they’re looking for.

If their website is loud, unique and makes your computer fan whirr because it’s playing videos automatically on the main page, you’re probably looking at a young, creative company. This might mean that in your interview you should try to be your most bubbly self.

If their website is almost bare in its simplicity, you’re probably looking at a very traditional, professional company. So perhaps formal clothes, a handshake and structured interview are on the cards.

Now that you’ve got a feel for the company, dive in. Their website should be a treasure trove, so read their ‘About Us’ section, blog, testimonials and make an account with them if you can. If they have a product or software, get a free trial and test it out.

Get to know the company as a prospective co-worker but also as a customer. Take notes on what works well and what doesn’t, so if you’re asked any questions about improvements they can make you’re ready with an answer.

4 – Study Your Notes

And finally, keep on returning to your (hopefully detailed and very useful) notes in the run up to the interview.

I really hope that these company research tips help you ace your interview and get offered the job on the spot. But if things don’t work out for you, do you have a backup plan?

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