Things to do Before the interview – Research the company
Researching the Company
In this episode we’re going to be talking about the things to do before your interview and this is the first installment of that. This will actually go on for several episodes. In this one we’re going to talk about researching the company.
The question of course is why?
Why would you research a company before you go in? This is actually a pretty common mistake that a lot of jobseekers make. They don’t spend very much time in finding too much out about the company.
You need to find out what job you’re applying for. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people apply to me and actually have no idea what our company is about at all. I always find it peculiar that people who want to come to work really don’t know if they’re a good match or not.
What they’re looking for is a job, and that’s the wrong way to look at it, even though it’s true, you are looking for a job. What you’re really looking for is a solution to an employer’s problem. Tthat’s you, you are the solution to an employer’s problem. This entire series about job interviews and how to get the job is based on that, it’s predicated upon your ability to solve a problem for the employer.
So you’re going to investigate the company to find out if indeed you can. Why waste the interviewer’s time and more importantly why waste your time if you are not a good match, if you’re not a good solution for what it is that the employer wants.
I tried to hire an administrative assistant one time a short while ago. I had a fairly comprehensive list of things that the applicant needed to be able to do, and it was dismaying to me the number of applications I got that had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the job description. So you want to research the company because you want to be a good match. I’ll break that down. There are seven reasons.
Reason #1 – When you go in for the first time for a job interview, even before you send in the resume you’re going to do this research to find out if you’re a good match, because you want to make a great impression. Now, actually, this one subject is so comprehensive that I’m devoting the entire next episode to this one facet, how to make an outstanding impression. So I won’t spend much time on it here, but researching the company gives you the ability to make a great impression, because if you can’t make a great impression, I’m here to tell you, you’re not going to get the job. Therefore you want to find out what the company is about, what they’re looking for before you go in.
Reason #2, to learn what to wear. You do that by going to company websites, by looking at their LinkedIn page, by looking on their Facebook page and the like, and seeing what people are wearing at the company and company events. Why? Because you want to dress appropriately, not inappropriately. If it’s a formal company like the one pictured here on the left then you want to look so. If it’s more casual, in my part of the world where I live it’s more casual, and in other parts of the world, even in this country would be different, so you want to dress appropriately.
Reason #3, you want to demonstrate that you’re enthusiastic and that you’re paying attention. Because you’re going to talk in a job interview, you want to be able to speak intelligently about the company, about what it does, about what its intents are. So you’re going to take a look at the company, you’re going to look at the mission statement, you’re going to look at its vision statement, you’re going to try to discern and interpret the values of the company. When you bring those up, not artificially, but when they become the natural, organic part of the conversation, you are demonstrating that you’re enthusiastic and that you’re paying attention to who the company is and what it’s about.
Reason #4, You’re going to also look to determine how well your skills and talents match what the company is looking for. I started with this in the beginning. I have it here again in the middle, because this is really, really important. I owned a millwork company for a while on an island in the Caribbean. I have employed a number of people. I would put applications in the newspaper looking for an experienced seasoned talented cabinetmaker, and I would list out the abilities that the person needed to have. And I finally gave up because I never got anybody to apply based on those criteria at all. They would say “well, you know, I’m a handyman.” Well, a handyman is not a cabinetmaker, I’m here to tell you it’s not a cabinetmaker. And I interviewed people who said “Well, I’d like to learn woodworking.” They were not a match whatsoever, they wasted my time and they wasted their time. You want to determine how well your skills and talents match what the company is looking for, because it’ll come up in the interview. We’re going to talk about those things in a future episode of this series on job interviews. So this is really, really, really, really, really important.
Reason #5, you want to determine if you really want to work there for the next few years. You probably won’t stay there your entire career, but I hope you’re not looking for a job for a couple of weeks, or a month or two, you’re going to be there for a while. So you’re going to research the company to find out if this is the kind of place you really want to work at. If you’re maybe new in the job force, and you’re just starting a job, maybe you indeed will want a fast-moving, hard-driving, fast-paced company. But if you’re later in your career perhaps that’s not what you want. You want to look at the values of the company and see if that’s the right thing, if it’s a good fit for you. When you research the company it’s going to help you answer the question why do you want to work for us, because they’re going to ask you that. They will ask you why do you want to work for this company. So, again, we’re going to go through all these questions in future episodes of this series, but I’m focusing now on why you want to research the company because you’re going to have to be able to answer this question, why do you want to work for us and the response that you might give, which would be “because I need a job”, is not good enough. It’s not good enough.
Reason #6, when you research the company it provides you with the foundation for thoughtful questions. When the interviewer asks if you have any questions, they always do, it really gives you an advantage in a job interview if you can ask some thoughtful questions. Interviewers want to converse, they want to know if somebody’s listening, they want to know if they’re paying attention and they want to know if you have any questions. The question how much money am I going to make is not particularly the best question to lead off with. So you’re going to talk about certain things that you might have in mind, you should have in mind, about the job and about the company. Researching helps you find those things out.
So the question then is how do I research? Well there are six easy sources that you can go to. Of course, the first one is “the company I’m interviewing with.com”, that is if you’re interviewing for a certain company look them up on the Internet, they must have a business website. So you look them up, check it out, spend a little bit of time there looking through their pages, reading them, trying to understand the company.
Of course then there’s Google, which will give you the broader information that’s online about this company. And you want to look and see what’s going on with the company, so that you can be informed. Then you’re going to go to LinkedIn and look at their pages on LinkedIn. Then there’s a site not too many people know about called Glassdoor.com. This is not written by the company, this is not written by Google, this is not written by a PR firm, this site is written by people who work for the company. So this will give you an inside perspective from people who work there or who used to work there. Now, remember when you’re looking at glassdoor.com, you are going to find a little bitterness there from people who got canned by the company and for all you know they got canned for a good reason. People get laid off from jobs not because the boss is mean and they’re out to get him, but there’s almost always a good reason. So if you read somebody who’s just venting then you need to understand, well, they’re just venting. But Glassdoor is a good place, because it also gives you an idea of salaries and wages that are earned at that company, so you know when they ask you what you’re looking for in terms of a salary you have a ballpark that you’re able to play in and understand that, well, I’m in this area of what you’re looking for when it comes to salaries. And glassdoor.com is a great resource to go to.
And, of course, there’s Facebook. Find out what people are saying, find out what the company is saying on Facebook. Look at their business page and read the comments. And then, of course, the ubiquitous Twitter. Go to Twitter and become a follower of the company and if you can find officers via research at the company I’m interviewing with.com, or on Google or on LinkedIn, or even on Facebook, if you can find the names of certain people, see if you can follow them as well. Because you are not trying to dig up dirt, you’re trying to fit, you’re trying to be informed when you go in for your interview and Twitter is a great place to go.