Researching the company for which you’ll be interviewing is the most important part of your interview preparation. The best place to start in today’s world, naturally, is the company’s own web site. Why? Because that’s where you’ll find all the positive information and facts that the company wants you to know. And believe me, Hiring Managers love it when you know them.
If you’re interviewing at a public sector organization, the web site will be an absolute gold mine Since it’s all public information anyway, they put just about everything about their organization on their web site. You can, literally, become more knowledgeable than most of the employees who work in that agency if you do your homework thoroughly.
Public or private sector, here are the things you should look for on the web site.
• If you know the name of the hiring manager or any of the people with whom you will be interviewing, do a search for their names. Use the search box if it has one, or there is frequently an “About Us” link that may have the names you’re seeking. You just might be able to discover some information about them that you can use to establish rapport in the interview. If you don’t know the name of the Hiring Manager or anyone else with whom you’ll be interviewing, call the HR department. If you’re polite when asking and explain that you want to be sure that you get everyone’s name right, they will frequently be glad to tell you who will be on the interview panel. Believe it or not, the HR department WANTS you to do well and get the job because filing positions quickly makes them look good.
• Search for the name of the company’s key managers, executives, and the Board of Directors. These high level positions are usually named on the web site. Then, do a Google search on these names to see what you can learn about them. You’ll frequently discover some additional things about the company and its strategies.
• How long has the company been in business and what is its history?
• Is there a link for “press releases” or something similar? This is a great source for exactly the type of information that company wants you to know. Quoting something from a press release in your interview will really drive home that you did your homework.
• Has the organization been through a period of growth or expansion that may have impacted their operations or strategies?
• What is the primary market for the company and who are its customers? If it’s a government agency, which citizens does it serve?
• What are the objectives of the organization and its goals for the future? What are its biggest challenges?
• If there is a Board of Directors, who’s on it?
• How big is the organization now and how big does it want to be?
These are all things that can help you frame your answers in terms that are relevant to that specific company. If my next post I’ll cover several additional ways to research the company and the people who work for it.