You finally received an invitation to interview after putting in a billion applications for a job.
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Studies show that the average number of people who apply for any given job is 118, but sadly only a small 20% of those applicants get an interview. Luckily, you made the cut, but now it is time to show the recruiter how awesome you are and why they should choose you over the other applicants.
So how can you get an edge over your competition? You've already made copies of your resume, you've practiced your elevator pitch, and you've sharpened your skills on answering basic interview questions like 'what are you strengths and weaknesses?' or 'what value can you bring to this position?' You've even bought fancy business cards to pass out at the end of the interview. You feel as if you are beyond prepared and are ready to impress the interviewer, but you forgot one important thing: you forgot to research the company!
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If you are like many people that I have interviewed, remembering to research the company before the interview is not second nature. If I received a dollar every time I interviewed someone that barely knew about my company, I promise I would be as rich as Oprah.
Researching the company will give you a competitive edge over other applicants. Even more, when you learn how to conduct company research and use the information to your advantage, you will definitely stand out.
Taking the time to find information on the company's past, present, and future will not only make you look better, but it will help you make the right decision when selecting your next company.
[Tweet "Just as the company is interviewing you, you should also be interviewing the company. "]
You should get to know as much as you can so that you are able to make an informed and educated decision. You want to make sure that you are picking the best company that will not only dish out your paycheck, but will also have a positive impact on your professional and personal development. Honestly, before I even apply to a job, I research the company. Why waste time completing an application, writing a cover letter, and interviewing if the company isn't the best fit for you? If you are lucky and get past the interview stage without knowing much about the company, it will be horrible if you start working and realize that your values and the company's are not aligned.
You would be amazed at how many people I have hired that have done insufficient research on my company. I have hired people that have asked me months after working what is our vacation and sick time policy. This shows me that 1). They didn't do their research in the beginning (most companies have the full benefits package listed with the job description) and 2). They didn't read the employee handbook or pay attention during new hire training (but this is another story).
While your resume has helped you get the interview, it is time for you to show up and show out! Before you interview with another company, make sure you know at least these 5 things. #ThankMeLater
1) Basic company history
Who is the CEO/President? Where are their headquarters? Is this an old company or a start-up? How did they start? Finding out the information to all of these questions and more will help you get a better understanding of the company you aspire to work for, and the people in charge in the organization. You can find this information by going to their website, or by just doing a simple Google search. In addition, when I look up company history, I like to try to find any information on where they are headed in terms of financial growth and goals. On Yahoo Finance, you can find financial statements and other important information on a company if the company is public. In addition, when you search for the company's name in Yahoo Finance, you will be able to see any recent news on the company.
Another good place to find company information is on Glassdoor and Indeed. When you search for a company's name on Glassdoor Indeed, you can read reviews from real employees and salary information (if this information is posted by employees).
2) Clients, products, and services
I know you are probably thinking that this is an obvious, but trust me it is not obvious to everyone. Do a basic Google search, or look on the company's site and figure out what the company does, what they sell, and if there is any information on future products and services. As a hiring manager, it is a huge turn-off when I interview candidates and they don't know anything about the service and product that my company has to offer. I don't think it's necessary to memorize every little detail on each product or service, but you should at least know the basics.
3) Their mission, vision, and values
The term company culture has become very big over the past few years, and it is one thing that most companies are serious about when looking for new people to join their team. Even though you may look really good on paper and are experienced in certain skills, if you don't "fit in" with the company and what they value, you won't be hired.
The easiest way to learn about a company and what they value is to look on their website. Most companies have an "About" page on their site that discusses the mission, vision, and values. Also, I recommend doing a thorough search on the company's career page as well. On most career pages, you can learn more about the company's benefits, values, professional development opportunities, and information on what it's like to work there. I have also seen on some career pages where they will list interview tips when interviewing with their company.
[Tweet "Even though you may look good on paper, you may not "fit in" with the company and their values."]
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Another way you can learn more about a company and their company culture is to find them on social media (if they have one). If you want to figure out if the company has a social media page, go on each social media network and type in their name. Three of my favorite social media sites for company information is Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. I have found that most companies are really active on Twitter, and this is a cool way to gauge the company's culture and to get news. LinkedIn is a good tool to use because it will allows you to not only see more information, but you can also see if you have any connections that already work at the company. YouTube is a great source as well because you can really get a good idea of the company culture if they have videos. With some companies, you can watch videos from the employees and interviews that the company has done.
4) Company awards and press mentions
I interviewed with a company a few years ago and when they asked me the infamous 'why do you want to work here' question, I impressed the interviewer and my response was well-received. Prior to the interview, I found really good information on the company and their future plans. I cannot remember my answer verbatim, but my response to their question discussed the company's value and future plans, and how my values were aligned to both.
To find this information you can either look on the company's website, or on Google. If you choose to use Google or another search engine, click on "news" at the top of the page to find recent press releases and news.
5) Basic information on the interviewer
Normally when you are invited to an interview, the HR or Recruiting Coordinator will give you the name of the person that you are interviewing with. My advice for this is simple: don't forget their name. I recently interviewed someone who forgot my name even though I was the person that conducted the initial phone screen and invited them to interview in person with me. When they arr]=1ved at our office for the interview with me, I was at the front because we were short staffed. When the interviewee arrived, she told me that she was here for an interview, but she couldn't remember who it was with. This was definitely a red flag and turn-off! When you go to your interview, you should always remember the name of who you are meeting with - this is just as important as remembering the location of the interview.
Do your research on a company before you commit (or even better before you submit an application). Working for a new company is like establishing a romantic relationship. You won't start a new relationship with someone until you stalk their Instagram12`vbfds` and Twitter, and search around for information to make sure that they are legit, so you should do the same for your future employer. Don't be so quick to accept the first job offer that comes your way before doing your research.
What other things do you look for when researching a company, or do you have any other tips on finding company information?
Drop a comment below and let us know!
Catch more tips for your job hunt and career growth by visiting our Workin' Girl section!