Preparation is key to your job interview going well. You want to have all the right information at your fingertips and answer all the interviewer’s questions without hesitation. Knowing that you are well-prepared will also help you feel more confident going into the interview. Employers can also tell who has spent some time preparing and will inevitably favour those candidates.
Some people aren’t sure where to start with their job interview research, though. It can all seem a bit too much. Don’t worry. If you cover the following things, you will be in a strong position when it comes to the interview.
1. Learn about the company and its culture
First stop: the company’s website. Straight away, the style and tone of the website should give you some clues. Is it strait-laced or laid-back, for example?
Look for an “About” page. This will tell you how the company perceives itself (or, at least, wants to be perceived). A link to the “About” page can often be found in a website’s header or in its footer. If you can’t find it easily, try doing a Google search for “site:thecompanyyouwanttoworkat.com about” (without the quote marks).
As a side note, that Google tip is worth remembering. Using “site:example.com” as part of your query will only return results from that particular website. It’s handy any time you can’t find what you are looking for on a website.
Make sure you are familiar with what the company does, as well as its main products or services, information you should be able to find on its website.
It’s also worth sparing some time to find the company’s social media profiles. The tone and content of social posts can tell you a lot. As public-facing communications, these are a good indication of the company’s voice and culture.
2. Get an idea of the company’s financial situation
Many startups operate with only a short runway (the length of time they can keep going with their current finances). Ideally, you don’t want to join a company that is likely to fold next week. Try searching for the company’s name in combination with terms such as “funding” and “investment”.
You can also check out a company’s Crunchbase profile to see what their funding situation is.
If it has recently received funding, a startup is a more stable proposition. On top of that, it also means that investors think it will succeed. That vote of confidence is important.
3. Look into the person who will interview you
Hopefully, you at least have the name of the person who will conduct your interview. Take a look at their LinkedIn profile to see what their background is like and whether you have anything in common. A shared acquaintance, alma mater or interest is a great way to create a bond between the two of you.
If you are using Gmail, the Rapportive plugin is handy. It will automatically look for the LinkedIn profile of anyone who emails you, making them that much easier to find.
4. Figure out the company’s structure
You will understand your potential role better if you also know how it fits into the organisation as a whole. Finding the company’s LinkedIn page will give you an estimate of the company’s size, but more than that, you can look at everyone who works there by clicking on “See all” in the “How You’re Connected” section.
Seeing the different titles that employees have gives you an idea as to structure. You can also look for people whose titles suggest that you might be working with them if you get the job, meaning you will also have an idea of your team’s size and how you will fit into it.
5. Look for news about the company
Use Google’s news search feature to find out if the company has been in the press recently, whether for positive or negative reasons. If they recently announced an exciting new feature or expansion, it’s a great topic to bring up in the interview.
6. Find out what people think of the company
Most of what you have researched up to now is what employers want you to see. We’ve looked at places where they control the message. It’s very important to see if there is another side to the story. Try search the company’s name on Twitter to see what people are saying about them, if their customers are happy, etc. You can also type “to:twitterhandle” (without quotes) into Twitter’s search bar to see all tweets directed at a particular account.
Glassdoor and Kununu are also excellent resources. Search for a company to see people’s reviews of working there, as well as interview questions that have been asked in the past. As they say, forewarned is forearmed.
Taledo founder Mengühan suggests that you practice answering past questions in your own words, so that you will be ready if they come up again.
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