Research is a very important pre-interview component of a successful job search, which can teach you a lot about your potential employer. Without researching the company, you might as well not attend the interview. Research, research, research.
You must never think of an interview as a one-way street. Research will arm you with a serious of questions you can ask the interviewers, and gives you crucial insights so you can gain an understanding of the corporate culture.
Start your research right away as you’re booking your interview with the human resources department. Learn as much as you can about the type of interview, the setting, and other details.
Once your interview is scheduled and you’re clear about the details, here are five places to research a potential employer:
Website and social media profiles
Start with information from the company itself – website, LinkedIn company page, Facebook page, and any other social media profiles. Browse the last several updates to get a sense of the public persona they’re trying to portray.
On LinkedIn, find company employees you may connect with via a mutual contact. Ask for an introduction so you can reach out and learn more about their experience with the company.
Search for the profiles of your interviewers and company executives. Learn as much as you can about their history, experience, and any mutual interests or contacts.
Hint: Search also for the company’s previous employees. They may be even more willing to dish the dirt on the company they left.
Around the web
Search Google for news, reviews, or other listings about the company, and then set up a Google Alert for ongoing updates by email. For financial news and earnings reports, use Globe Investor. Another good and emerging resource is Glassdoor which promises to let you see “what real employees have to say about any company,” along with salaries and job openings.
The parking lot
Upon arrival at the office where you will be interviewed, look around the parking lot and see if there are reserved spaces for the senior executives. This can tell you a story about the company’s hierarchy. Take that a step further and look at whether they offer reserved spaces for hybrid cars, or bike racks. What does that tell you about the company values and culture?
The reception area
How are you greeted when you arrive? Was it a friendly interaction? Casual? Formal? Were you offered a beverage?
Be a few minutes early so you can sit and observe as staff transition in and out of the reception area. How do they speak to each other? Do they acknowledge the receptionist each time they pass by?
How does the receptionist answer the phone? Engaged, with excitement, or are they on auto-pilot?
The interview room
Upon entry into the interview, be acutely aware of the interviewer’s body language. Do they want to be there? Is it a chore, or are they excited to meet you?
At an appropriate time during the discussion, ask about the company’s commitment to the health and wellness of its employees. Is there a gym or fitness centre? Are there showers for those who cycle to work? What types of foods are offered in the cafeteria and vending machines?
Gathering this data about the corporate culture, company history, their service or product offering, and other details will strengthen your preparedness to have a two-way dialogue during your job interview and make a stronger interpersonal connection.