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Why (And How) To Research A Company Before You Interview

Choosing an MBA Specialization

Congratulations on landing a job interview! Take a minute to bask in the glow of confidence that comes with knowing your skills and experience have interested an employer to the point where they’d want to meet you in person.

Then get ready to show them you’re not just capable of performing in the job opportunity they’re offering, but genuinely interested in being hired by their company. Every job interviewee should take time to perform research about the organization they’re interviewing with. It could make the difference between “We’ll call you”, and “When can you start?” that much smaller.

Why Do Research?

Performing research about a company before you interview—or even before you apply—helps you relate your experience and skills to the specific mission of that company as well as to the job opening they’re advertising. You can then answer questions and give detailed examples showing how your past experience connects to work currently happening at the company.

It can also save you time: with enough research under your belt, you should be able to spend your interview talking more in-depth about the role, rather than listening to the interviewer rattle off basic information about what the company does.

Finally, performing research about a company shows interviewers that you are genuinely interested in the opportunity they’re offering. Most people like where they work, and if you seem enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their organization, they’re probably going to be more inclined to like the idea of you working there.

A Word Of Caution: If you’re a problem-solver, it can be tempting to bring up things you’ve found out in your research during the interview to discuss how you would have handled it differently. Don’t do this unless specifically asked to. It can come across as negative or critical and cost you your chance at the job opportunity.

What To Know Before You Interview

Obviously, the first port of call for most research nowadays is an Internet search engine such as Google. You can immediately pull up a company’s website, along with news articles, reviews, and other information. Here are the key things you’ll want to find out before the interview:

What The Company Does: Never, ever walk into an interview without being able to sum up the company’s central mission in a short phrase. Whether the company interviewing you manages investment portfolios for retirees or designs clothes for mass-market retailers, you should do enough research to know their main purpose for existing.

Key Personnel: Most company websites will have an “about us” section that offers biographies of key executives or managers. Take time to look through this information so that you’re familiar with important names and have a general idea of how the company is organized before you interview.

The Company’s Size And Status: If the company is publicly traded, they need to produce quarterly financial statements for public viewing. While it isn’t necessary to be able to talk in detail about their most recent quarterly report, financial statements can tell you a lot about a business’s size, scope, and operations.

Key Products and Services: Be able to name the company’s main products or services, especially if the role you are competing for is at all involved with making, selling, or managing them. Checking out the press section of a company’s website can also tell you about the latest products and services the company is rolling out.

Issues In The Industry: Once you have basic facts about the company nailed down, start learning a little more about current events in the company’s industry. This is easily done by looking up trade journals or business news articles about the industry sector. You can also find out names of key competitors or major clients the company works with.

What If You Can’t Find Anything?

If you’re interviewing with a smaller company, a school, or other organization that doesn’t have an enormous web presence, don’t sweat. You should express at the interview that you’re eager to learn more about the company, and tell the interviewer that you tried to look for more information. While researching a company before you interview can help you prepare responses to questions, being able to demonstrate interest and enthusiasm also goes a long way.

This article is presented by American InterContinental University, a provider of career-focused degree programs. Students can also study on our Virtual Campus at AIU Online. Find out more at http://www.aiuniv.edu.

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