How to Research a Company Before a Job Interview

Find out the essential steps on how to research companies before your job interview. Uncover valuable insights into company culture, employees, and more to ace your next interview by understanding the company you're applying to.

November 4, 2023

How to research a company before going for an interview
Author
Shashank Kothari
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During the challenging pandemic period, many people faced job losses. A quarter of working adults, as noted by the Pew Research Center, experienced either personal or household job loss due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, as the situation gradually eases, there's a surge in job opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings have risen to 9.6 million, a 5.8% increase from the prior report. Companies are hiring again, and job seekers are going through many job interviews.

Researching a company before an interview has become pivotal in this competitive landscape. Understanding the organization you're applying to can significantly impact your success. It's not just about getting a job; it's about finding the right fit for your career. By researching a company's background, culture, and work environment, you gain crucial insights that can help you stand out during the interview process.

This proactive approach lets you align your skills and experiences with the company's values and goals. It demonstrates to the potential employer that you are genuinely interested in contributing to their success. Researching a company empowers you to ask insightful questions and showcase how you can be a valuable addition to the team. But how can you do some research about a company? Read on to find out.

How to Research a Company Before an Interview

Researching a company before an interview is essential to show your interest in the company and to prepare yourself for the interview. Here is how to research about a company before a job interview:

Start by Researching the Company’s Website

Begin your company research by checking out the company’s website. The first step when checking the company’s website is to look into the “About Us” or “Our Story” section. Here, you can uncover the company's history – how it began, its milestones, and the path it has traveled. This section often shares the company's founding story and growth. Understanding this backstory gives you a glimpse into the company's roots and evolution.

Moreover, you'll find the company's mission and values outlined on its website. The mission statement guides the company's direction, highlighting its overarching goal. The values, however, reflect the principles the company upholds. Learning about these aspects helps you understand the company's ethos and what it prioritizes.

The products or services section provides an overview of what the company offers its customers. Whether it's innovative tech solutions, health services, or sustainable products, this section unveils everything. Understanding these products or services can demonstrate your interest and alignment with what the company focuses on.

Company blogs or news sections often share the latest happenings, achievements, and plans. This area is a window into the company's current activities, projects, and initiatives. It shows you're up-to-date and genuinely interested in the company's progress.

Check Them Out on Their Social Media Pages

Apple’s official X page showing the verification tick
Apple’s official X page showing the verification tick. Source: X

As you explore job opportunities, checking their social media platforms is a brilliant move to connect with the companies you're eyeing. Platforms like LinkedIn, X, Facebook, and Instagram often host a company's official presence. Engaging with these pages gives you invaluable insights and can set you apart during the interview process.

Connecting with a company's social media is just like peering into its daily life. It gives you a glimpse of their world. These platforms act as windows into the company's current news, achievements, and events. Moreover, you can unveil their culture, employee engagement, and community contributions.

You can also discover valuable nuggets like employee spotlights, company events, charitable initiatives, and a peek behind the scenes. Understanding a company's culture via these platforms can help tailor your interview responses to fit their values and vibe.

Connecting with a company on social media shows an active interest in its activities and growth. Following their page and engaging with their content—liking, sharing, or commenting on their posts—can make you stand out, signaling genuine enthusiasm for the company.

How can you ensure you're following the official company page? Look for verification ticks or badges on platforms like X, Facebook, and Instagram. On LinkedIn, 'Verified' marks confirm the authenticity of the company page. Another way is to visit the company's official website and find direct links to their social media handles.

A study published by the Journal of Career Development, titled "Social Media as a Place to See and Be Seen: Exploring Factors Affecting Job Attainment via Social Media," confirmed that job seekers can actively look up companies on social media platforms and can get unsolicited offers from them. These platforms are legitimate tools for finding job opportunities and connecting with recruiters. So, dive into the digital world and connect with the companies you're interested in to enhance your job hunt.

Hit Them up on Search Engines to See Some News About Them

Search engine look up of Apple
Searching a company in Google. Source: Google

Using search engines to look for information about companies is an excellent tool for job seekers. Search engines act as filters for the vast sea of information available on the Internet. They help users swiftly locate valuable and relevant data without sifting through countless irrelevant web pages. 

When you're on the hunt for information about a company, search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo are your companions. Typing in the company name along with keywords like "news," "latest updates," or "company developments" can yield a wealth of information. The results will show news articles, press releases, and even blog posts about the company.

You might discover recent accolades the company has received, any controversies they've been involved in, new product launches, community involvement, or even their plans. Besides news, you may see employee reviews, Glassdoor ratings, or industry insights that shed light on the company’s reputation and performance.

Larry Page, co-founder of Google, said, "The ultimate search engine... would understand exactly what you mean and give back exactly what you want." Though search engines might not be that perfect, they do offer a vast array of information that can be highly beneficial for job seekers.

Apart from the regular search results, you can check out the “News” section or the “Blogs” section to access more recent and varied content about the company. Additionally, visiting the company's official website and exploring its press or media section can provide direct and authentic news releases.

Using search engines to gather information about companies adds a layer to your research. It provides you with updated and diverse perspectives that might not be directly available on the company's website or social media. This knowledge equips you to tailor your interview responses and ask insightful questions, showcasing your proactive approach to understanding the company thoroughly.

Check the Company on Employees’ Review Websites

How employees review websites is essential
How vital are employee review websites to the employee and the employers? Source: Glassdoor

Exploring employee review websites provides a vital glimpse into a company's work environment, shared by past and current employees. Platforms like Glassdoor, Indeed, and Kununu offer many insights through authentic employee experiences.

Apple profile on Glassdoor
Apple profile on Glassdoor. Source: Glassdoor

Glassdoor stands out as one of the most popular employee review platforms. Simply visit the Glassdoor website and type the company's name in the search bar. There, you'll discover authentic reviews, ratings, and even insights into salaries shared by employees themselves.

It is crucial to check these websites because these platforms give firsthand perspectives from people who've worked at the company. It sheds light on various aspects like company culture, management style, work-life balance, growth opportunities, and overall employee satisfaction.

These insights help you to make the best possible decisions regarding potential employers. Understanding the company through the lens of its employees can empower you to tailor your interview questions and responses. It can help you showcase your grasp of the company’s strengths and potential areas for improvement.

According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 61% of job seekers say that reading company reviews is an essential factor in their decision-making process when applying for a job. Additionally, a study conducted by Glassdoor found that job seekers who read company reviews are more likely to apply for a job at that company. It also shows that those who encounter negative reviews tend to ask more questions about the company culture during the interview process. They aim to understand the company's working environment better.

Exploring these employee review websites plays a pivotal role in your job-seeking journey. They offer a comprehensive understanding of what it’s like to work within a company, assisting you in making the best decisions and potentially avoiding unpleasant work environments. Through these insights, you gain an insider’s view that can significantly shape your job application process and interview preparation.

Look for Their Competition and Competitors

Checking up a company's rivals is a crucial step in understanding the business landscape. It is vital as it shows you've gone beyond the surface in your research. This knowledge helps show your awareness of the industry's challenges, opportunities and how the company positions itself within this landscape. By exploring the company's competitors, you get insights into the market trends, their strategies, and their unique selling points.

Searching for the top Apple competitors using the prompt “top companies in [industry].”
Looking for the top Apple competitors. Source: Google

To look up a company's competition, start with a simple online search using search engines like Google or Bing. Type in the company's name followed by terms like "competitors," "industry rivals," or "top companies in [industry]." This can bring up articles, reports, or lists that highlight the key players in the same field.

During the interview, showcasing your understanding of the company's competitive environment can make you stand out. By comparing and contrasting the company with its competitors, you can highlight what makes it unique or identify areas where it might improve. This exhibits your industry knowledge and also demonstrates your proactive approach to understanding the company's place in the market.

Understanding the company's competition provides a well-rounded perspective, aiding in showcasing your proactive approach and genuine interest in the company during the interview. It reflects a deeper understanding and awareness, setting you apart from other candidates and potentially leaving a lasting impression on your interviewers.

What to Look for When Researching a Company

When researching a company, here are some key aspects to focus on:

1. Company Values

Examples of what a company’s core values are
Examples of what a company’s core values are. Source: Google

A company's values are the core beliefs that guide its actions and decisions. They reflect what the company prioritizes and guides its behavior. For example, values like integrity, teamwork, diversity, or innovation highlight what a company cherishes and stands for.

The mission and vision statement of Tesla
Tesla’s vision and mission statements. Source: Business Model Analyst

For instance, Tesla's mission statement is “To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy.” This means the company is committed to hastening the global move toward sustainable energy. They prioritize innovation and environmental responsibility, aiming to offer accessible, eco-conscious solutions for a cleaner, greener world. Now if you are asked about the core value of the company in an interview, you can say this, and you will be 100% correct. 

Also, aligning your own values with those of the company is vital to ensuring a good fit and job satisfaction. Understanding a company's values aids in interview preparation. When your values align with theirs, it showcases your enthusiasm and compatibility with their ethos, potentially making you a more desirable candidate. These values reflect the company's identity and can often be the driving force behind its decisions and actions.

2. Financial Health

Good vs bad financial health
The difference between sound financial and bad financial health. Source: Wall Street Mojo

A company's financial health shows how well it manages its money and resources. It reflects if the company is making profits, growing, and managing its debts well. Positive signs of financial health include steady revenue growth, manageable debt, and healthy profits.

When researching a company, checking its financial health is essential. You can find this information in the company's annual reports, financial statements, or investor relations section on their website. Understanding a company's financial health helps you assess its stability, growth potential, and ability to withstand economic challenges.

Examining a company's financial health provides insights into its economic stability and the security of the workplace it offers. It also influences the company's future prospects and your job security. For instance, a company with a solid financial position will likely offer stability, growth opportunities, and potentially better employee benefits. Understanding the financial health of a company is crucial for making the best possible decisions about job opportunities and career paths.

3. Employee Benefits

Advantages of employee benefits
Advantages of employee benefits. Source: Question Pro

A company's employee benefits are additional advantages or perks beyond the salary that employees receive. These benefits can include health insurance, retirement plans like 401(k), paid time off, parental leave, wellness programs, and education assistance, among others.

When researching a company, you can often find details about these benefits in the "Careers" or "Jobs" section on the company's website. Understanding the benefits a company offers is vital because it greatly impacts your overall job satisfaction and well-being. For instance, if a company provides comprehensive health insurance, generous vacation time, or investment in employee development, it can positively influence your job contentment and work-life balance.

Research conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) emphasizes the significance of employment benefits. According to the results obtained from the research, 92% of employees view benefits as vital for their job satisfaction. Knowing the benefits a company provides impacts your happiness, productivity, and retention on the job.

4. Company Culture

Qualities of a great organizational culture
The qualities of a good company culture. Source: Achievers

A company's culture refers to its collective values, beliefs, behaviors, and working environment. It's like the company's personality, reflecting how things are done and how people interact. For example, a company with an innovative culture might encourage risk-taking and creativity, while another with a collaborative culture emphasizes teamwork and mutual support.

When researching a company, you can often find insights about the culture on the company's website, particularly in sections like "About Us," "Mission," or "Culture." Assessing the culture helps you determine if it aligns with your own work style and values. A positive cultural fit can contribute significantly to job satisfaction and your overall well-being at work.

Research conducted by Achievers highlights the importance of company culture. It's one of the top indicators of employee satisfaction, with nearly two-thirds of employees citing it as a critical reason for staying in their jobs. A good cultural fit positively impacts your happiness at work and often leads to higher job retention.

5. Hiring Manager

A hiring manager or human resources (HR) manager is the person responsible for recruiting, interviewing, and hiring employees. Knowing who the HR manager is when researching a company is essential as they often play a pivotal role in the hiring process and in setting workplace policies.

To find out who the HR manager is, you can visit the company's website and look for the "Leadership," "Team," or "About Us" section. Sometimes, job postings also mention the HR contact person. Once you identify the HR manager, you will get to know what they're like by reviewing their LinkedIn profile or other professional networking sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, AngelList, etc. This will give you a sense of their background, experiences, and sometimes even their management style.

Getting to know the HR manager helps you understand the company's recruitment approach and values. For example, if the HR manager has a transparent and approachable style, it might indicate an open and communicative work environment. Understanding their background and experiences can also guide your interview preparation. It can help you tailor your responses and questions to align with the company's hiring expectations and culture.

Knowing who the HR manager is and understanding their style can offer a glimpse into the company's hiring processes and work environment. This insight can help you better prepare for interviews and understand the company's values, potentially contributing to your success in securing a job.

Importance of Researching a Company Before an Interview

Researching a company before an interview is crucial for several reasons. It helps you prepare more effectively, stand out among other candidates, and demonstrate your genuine interest in the company and the role you're pursuing. Let us talk more about these reasons:

Demonstrates Your Interest in the Job

Researching a company before an interview shows you're genuinely keen on the job. This interest makes you more memorable to the interviewer and displays your commitment. It helps you ask insightful questions and discuss how your skills match the company's needs. Ultimately, it sets you apart as a candidate who is genuinely invested in the job, increasing your chances of making a positive impression and landing the position.

Helps You Understand the Company’s Culture, Mission, and Values

Researching a company lets you grasp its culture, mission, and values. You learn about its personality, what it stands for, and how it does things. This info helps you figure out if you align with the company's vibe and work style. It guides you to see if your own values match theirs, making sure you fit in well. Understanding these aspects helps you prepare better for the interview and craft responses that connect with the company's goals. This preparation sets you up as a candidate who truly gets what the company stands for.

Helps You Prepare for the Interview

four steps of how to prepare for the interview
Researching the company is the number one way to prepare for an interview. Source: Slide Player

Researching before an interview readies you for the meeting. You probably get all the info you need to shine. You learn about the company, its goals, and what they look for in employees. This helps you prepare better answers and ask intelligent questions. Understanding the company's needs helps you tailor your responses, showing you're a perfect match. This preparation makes you feel more confident and ready to impress the interviewers with your knowledge.

Helps You Ask Relevant Questions

Researching before an interview helps you ask meaningful questions. For instance, you could inquire about the company's future goals, how they support employee growth, or how they handle challenges. Knowing their recent achievements or industry trends allows you to ask insightful questions, showing your genuine interest. This way, you dig deeper into topics that matter to you and the company. Asking relevant questions demonstrates your enthusiasm and understanding. It makes the interview more engaging and shows your keen interest in the job.

Helps You Uncover Red Flags

What an employer’s red flag is
What an employer’s red flag is. Source: Investopedia

Researching helps uncover potential issues, like red flags, before an interview. For instance, if a company has a high turnover rate or negative employee reviews, it might signal a problematic work environment. Understanding these signs makes you rethink if the job is right for you. It's a warning sign before you commit. Recognizing these issues before the interview helps you ask targeted questions about what you saw, aiming to address concerns or clarify uncertainties. This way, you can make a better decision about whether the job is the right fit for you.

Boost Your Interview Success Through Effective Research

Thorough research supercharges interview success. Understanding a company's culture, values, and goals helps you show genuine interest. It guides you in tailoring your responses, highlighting how your skills align with their needs. It also aids in asking smart, relevant questions, proving your eagerness and prep. 

Recognizing potential red flags early on gives you a chance to rethink if the job's right for you. This preparation boosts confidence, making you feel more ready and capable during the interview. Effective research isn't just about impressing; it's about finding the right fit for you. It's your weapon for interview success, helping you stand out and securing a job that suits you best.

Author
Shashank Kothari
F4P Contributor

My goal is to empower readers with insightful blogs that explore future trends, provide practical guidance, and spark curiosity. Together, let's navigate the path to personal and professional growth in an ever-changing world.

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