How to Research a Company Before a Job Interview (the Ultimate Guide — Part 1)
Below is part 1 of a detailed summary of information and strategies from my digital workbook, “The Ultimate Job Interview Research Workbook.”
I conceived the idea while volunteering with low income women to help them prepare for job interviews — everyone knew they should research before a job interview, but they didn’t know exactly what or how.
I’ve made the premium digital version of this available 100% free to several organizations that support low income women and military veterans, but so far those efforts have gotten caught-up in red tape. Please contact me if you can make this happen.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
I. Pronunciations, Lingo & Jargon
IV. Organization of the Company
— End of topics covered in this post —
V. Products & Services
VI. The Industry: Competition, Trends & People
VII. Regulation & Unions
VIII. News & Press Releases
IX. Advertising, Sponsorships & Charitable Activities
X. Social Media
XII. People With Whom You’ll Be Interviewing
The math is simple: better preparation = better interviews = more success.
While not everything in this book will apply to the exact job you’re seeking, answering the questions will build your confidence and prepare you for any direction the interview takes.
Don’t feel obligated to write out everything you uncover in your research. Feel free to skip over anything you’re convinced has no value for a job you’re pursuing.
However, having a broad and deep understanding of the organization and its people shows enthusiasm, thoroughness and professionalism.
Think about that — instead of just saying you have those qualities, you’ll show them. They’ll shine through in your questions, answers and
confidence during the entire interview.
Note: I’ve cut and pasted the information below, without any of the the large spaces in which to write or type the answers. You’re welcome to copy and paste this post into a text document and add spacing, so it more useful to you (but please don’t sell or distribute it).
I. PRONUNCIATIONS, LINGO & JARGON
Learn the correct way to pronounce names and words that might come up in interviews, including brands, competitors, executives, and people with whom you’ll be interviewing.
If you have any doubt, check. Hard-to-pronounce words and names are often butchered, but your upfront effort here is an easy way to build confidence and outshine your competitors.
Search Google & YouTube by entering “pronounce” followed by the word or name in question. If you can’t find a reliable source elsewhere, call the company’s public relations person and ask.
Example call: “Good morning. My name is ____________. I have a job interview with your company next Friday and I’m calling to confirm the proper way to pronounce your President’s name. Could you help me please?”
Once you hear the person say it, repeat it back to them slowly and clearly to confirm. It might help to ask if it rhymes with a common word, to be sure you’re learning it correctly. And of course, be pleasant and polite — every interaction counts. Lastly, practice saying it aloud at least a dozen times, so it feels natural.
What is the company name? (confirm the correct spelling)
What does the company do? Give a clear and simple overview in one or two sentences.
How does the company bring in money? (e.g., non-profits might be from donations or grants)
Describe the company’s mission and core values. For most companies this is meaningless window dressing. But for some, their mission and values
are the very soul of the company and every decision is based on them.
For example, if you’re interviewing at Google, you should know their motto is “Don’t be evil,” their mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” and that there are “Ten things (they) know to be true” (http://bit.ly/google-ten-things).
Where to find? The “About” section of the company’s website.
What are the company’s most important or well known products, services or brands?
Describe the key benefits or qualities of this product, service or brand?
Such as reputation for top-notch quality, lowest cost option, great customer service, etc.
How is this product, service or brand positioned in the market? Is it a low-priced value, high-end premium, or somewhere in between?
Who is the primary target customer for this product, service or brand?
First, do they sell to other businesses, or to consumers? Second, try to identify the target customers’ characteristics. Short article on this topic: http://bit.ly/cust-profile
Where to search? Check the company’s website and blog. Also, search Google for the company or brand name + “target customer” OR “customer segments” OR “pricing strategy” OR “market segmentation” OR “segment strategy” OR “our customer.”
* Visit Careerasaurus.com/cs2 for our easy custom search on this topic.
How does the company sell to its customers? Do they use direct marketing, have an internal sales force, outside distribution partners, independent dealers, or something else?
Describe any key customers, suppliers, partners or materials needed in their business.
Where to find? The company’s website. Also, search Google for the company industry + suppliers OR risks OR materials. For public companies, the 10-K or S-1 reports are terrific resources (use the EDGAR database of public company filings at http://bit.ly/edgar-search).
Has the company bought or sold* any significant businesses? *This is known as merger and acquisition (“M&A”) activity. If yes, what was timing and what were the reasons for the transaction?
Where to find? Search Google for the company or brand name + “acquisitions” OR “acquired” OR “acquiring” OR “merger” OR “merging” OR “merged” OR “spin off” OR “spin-off” OR “spinning-off” OR “spun-off” OR “m&a” OR “divest” OR “divestiture” OR “divesting” OR “divested”
* Visit Careerasaurus.com/cs3 for our easy custom search on this topic.
Who founded the company?
When was the company founded?
Where was the company founded?
What’s the story of how the company was founded?
What is the origin or meaning of the company’s name?
What’s the story of how the company was founded?
IV. ORGANIZATION OF THE COMPANY
What type of entity is the company you’re interviewing with? Is it a corporation, a limited liability company (“LLC”), or something else? Learn more at: http://bit.ly/types-of-orgs
Where are its headquarters?
Where else does the company operate? (manufacturing, sales offices, etc.)
Who owns the company? Is the company you’re interviewing with a private company owned by a few individuals, a public company traded on a stock exchange, a subsidiary that’s 100% owned by another organization, a joint venture, or something else? Give details.
If the company (or parent company) is a public company, what is its stock symbol and where is it traded? A “public company” is one whose ownership (“stock”) can be bought and sold (“traded”) by the general public. Stocks are traded on different exchanges, such as the NYSE.
Where to find? The company’s website, or search Google Finance http://www.google.com/finance
If public, how has the company’s stock price changed over the last five years? Is it currently near it’s high, low or mid-point? Private companies aren’t traded publicly, so stock prices aren’t available.
Where to find? View charts at Google Finance http://www.google.com/finance
— End of Part 1 —
The next part of this series will begin with the company’s PRODUCTS & SERVICES.
The entire “Ultimate Job Interview Research Workbook,” in full detail, with all the spacing and the ability to type or paste your research is available at Careerasaurus.com (use offer code “medium” for 30% off).
Good luck in your job search!
Mark Gavagan is the founder of Enlightened Jobs