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Do Your Homework

Part two in our series on preparing for a job interview.

In Part One, we covered the three things you can do before you get an interview on the calendar. Today, we are going to discuss how to do the right research to prepare for an interview. The goal is to be able to put your best foot forward in the interview and determine if the company will be the right fit for you.

Give yourself enough time to be prepared for the interview. Sometimes companies in their haste will put you at a disadvantage. You might be called out of the blue and expected to do a phone interview on the spot. They might call you and ask you to interview that day. It is perfectly acceptable to find a mutually convenient time to interview. At a minimum, you should give yourself 24 hours. If asking for that puts you out of the running for the job, you either were never going to get it in the first place, or it’s the kind of company you don’t want to work for in the first place.

Once you are scheduled for an interview, its time to do some research. For this exercise, we are assuming a for-profit company. Non-profits, government, or academia have somewhat different requirements and won’t be covered here. Here are the top ten places to go to do research before the interview:

  1. Company web page. Start here and crawl over everything. Know who they are, what they do, how they make money.

  2. Investor information. Publicly-traded companies have a lot of information available to investors. Which is valuable to you doing research. Start with the most recent annual report, especially the letter to the shareholders. While you don’t have to get too deep into the financials, knowing the basic stock trajectory should give you an idea on what’s going on with the company.

  3. Their career page. You might have applied there in the first place, but look at it from a macro perspective. Do they have dozens of openings? That could mean they are growing, or it could mean they have high turnover.

  4. Current events. Look for mentions of the company in the news over the past several years. Mergers, acquisitions, scandals, cover stories, press releases. Set up a Google News alert for the company. Something big might happen between the first and last interview you’ll want to know.

  5. Review sites like Glassdoor and These can be helpful but take what you read with a grain of salt. One disgruntled employee fired for cause can write a blistering review anonymously. However, if you read dozens that the CEO is a screamer, it might be a legit warning sign.

  6. LinkedIn. Try to look up the people you’ll be interviewing with to learn of their background and any commonality of networks, interests, schools, etc. Look up others that work for the company. You can get an idea of the type of people they hire. Anyone in your network work there? You might be able to talk to them ahead of time about advice on how to shine in the interview and what to expect. An advanced use of LinkedIn is to look at former employees. If you find dozens and dozens of former employees with short tenures, that could be a big red flag.

  7. Social Media accounts for the company. Check out any social accounts they might have. Usually they link to them on their main web page.

  8. Industry news and journals. Look for trends affecting their industry or information about them or their competitors.

  9. Competitor web pages. How do they stack up compared to the company you are interviewing with?

  10. Google them – you never know what might come up that will be useful to you. Even on the second page of search results.

What should you do with your research? Ideally, you will uncover how you can help them be successful. Whether by solving problems they might have, help them run better, take care of their customers, make or save them money.

Refrain from any awkward questions that might put the interviewers on the defensive (“So, I read on Glassdoor that the VP’s are known for harassing the interns…”) unless it directly pertains to the viability of the company (“Has the CEO’s indictment on fraud charges impacted sales?”) and the viability of the job.

Doing your homework (or not) shows them you are serious about getting the job and is an indicator of your potential work performance. It’s also a sign of respect for the interviewers that you value their time. Combining your knowledge of the company with a solid interview performance will get you on the path to an offer. As we said in Part One of this series, 90% of the time the offer goes to the candidate who is most prepared for the interview.

Thanks for reading. Our next post in this series will continue to explore how to prepare for an interview. Consider subscribing so you don’t miss it.

If you need help in your job search, we can help and would like to hear from you.

Feel free to comment below. If you like what you read, kindly consider sharing with your networks.

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