Why researching the company is so important for job interview success

This article is all about the important topic of researching the company you’re interviewing with, why to research the company, and how to actually go about it and what results you should expect. So why must we research the company? For a start you’ll look unprepared in the interview if you don’t carry out proper research. You must also ask good questions at the end of the interview, which we’ll cover in-depth in another article. Asking good questions can only come from knowing about the company, which means research!

Why is research so important?

Imagine a scenario, a very likely one, where the employer says to you, ‘What do you know about us? What do you know about our company and what we’re doing?’ If you didn’t do your research, how do you think that looks to the interviewer? It looks like you’re not bothered. Who do you think they’re going to offer the job to? The person who looks like they’re not bothered or the person who comes in having fully researched the company? They’ll know exactly what’s been going on, they will have a finger on the pulse having looked at news articles, they’ll know the latest hires at the company, they’ll know the direction of the company. That’s the person who will be offered the role. This article will help to make sure that the person is you.

What sort of research should you do?

An obvious place to start is the company website. You need to go on there in some depth and look at all of the main areas such as the career section, the news section and the ‘about us’ section, where you can look at the board members and other key people at the company. It could be that you see a member of staff on there that you know, and that’s an area of common interest that you can use in the interview. We’ll be writing another article about this soon. It’s really important, where possible, to find common ground with the interviewer because people like to hire people that they feel comfortable with. If you can find common ground with the interviewer, then that’s going to go in your favour.

As well as looking at the main areas of the company website, you’re also looking for any snippets of information that you will be able to use in the interview, whether it’s a news item that’s caught your attention or something else that you can use. All of these things must be noted down on a template, which we’ll come onto shortly.

You should be looking up general news stories about the company as well. You can find these on any search engine by typing the company name and then clicking on ‘news’. You’ll then see a number of news stories about that company. Hopefully most will be positive. If you do find that there’s negative news, be careful about using that in the interview, you don’t want to upset the interviewer. Equally, it could be that if you find there’s loads of negative news you don’t want to go to the interview in the first place or you don’t want to apply to that company. Research should be done as early as possible, ideally before you apply, but certainly when you’ve been called in for interview.

There are other websites where you can find good information such as Glassdoor. On there you’ll find reviews from employees and ex-employees. There’ll be ratings and average salary levels, which are really good information to capture on your template. If there are negative reviews, you’ve got to take those with a pinch of salt because it could be someone who’s a bit disgruntled who’s gone on there and decided to have a bit of a rant. Of course, negative reviews might be valid, but take these in context. You may find that there’s a theme to some of the comments. For example, it might be that lots of people mention working really long hours. If you frame it in the right way then you could work that question into your interview. Of course you must do this in a non-confrontational way, so you’re not making it obvious that you know that lots people are complaining about working hours. It’s important to ask about these types of things if they’re important to you. If you’re someone who’s not into long hours or staying late then maybe it’s not the job for you. You’ve got to get the job that’s right for you and you need to explore these things in the interview in the right way.

What results should you expect from your research?

Firstly, you’re going to be much more informed. You should be able to build a full picture of the company so you can ask those all-important questions towards the end of the interview. You should end up with a template full of the latest news, perhaps their most recent business wins or contract wins, who’s joined the company, who’s left the company and any new products they’re bringing to the market. Through Glassdoor and other similar websites you’ll be able to build good insight from the actual employees of that company also. So, at the end of your research you should end up much better informed going into the interview and, with the ultimate outcome in mind, you will look more credible in front of the interviewer. The end goal of all of your research is to be the most impressive candidate on the day and to get the job. That’s what it’s all about.

How should do you go about capturing your research?

In our ‘Ultimate Interview Course’ we have templates that you can download and use, but equally you can put together a simple template for yourself with different boxes for each section. For example, you should have one for company website news items, one for ‘movers and shakers’, or in other words, who’s joined the company recently and who’s left. You should also have sections for any big wins, employee feedback and other important information that you find. It isn’t necessary to take this template into the interview with you, but it is critical that you use it as one of your preparation sheets. You also need to research the person you are interviewing with and look in detail at the job specification. We also provide templates for those areas of research in our course.

Take responsibility, get a template and get it done!

The final, and most important message in this article is to take responsibility. It is only down to you and it’s your responsibility to prepare properly for your interview. if you haven’t done it, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage to all the other candidates. If you do the research properly, you’ll single yourself out for the right reasons, being prepared, being credible and asking good questions.

You can only do that if you’ve done your research and that means taking responsibility. So remember, for your next interview take responsibility, get a template and get it done! If you have any comments, we’d love to hear them below. Thanks for reading and good luck for your interview!