I’ve written posts in the past that focused on some great ways to give yourself an advantage when going in for an interview. One of the things I stressed was how important it is to do research on the employer you are interviewing with. Skipping this step could wind up costing you the job before you even start. It’s critical for any job seeker (Yes, even my fellow freelancers!) to learn as much as possible about the company and employer before they go in for the interview.
Now, I’m not just talking about reading through the company pages. It’s a good thing to do, for sure, but there are some better ways to learn more specific details about the employer. Not only will this give you an idea of who you are working with, but it also shows you are able to take initiative, are detail-oriented, and know how to do independent research.
Check out this list of five ways to research an employer before going in for an interview:
#1: Read through the company’s website
This is an absolute must. You should read the About Pages, read about the staff, read through blog posts, and read anything available on the site. Doing this will give you some valuable insight into what the company’s culture is like, the type of work they do, and what their employees are like. It will also give you an overall feel of what the business’ voice is, especially if you read through the blogs.
For my fellow freelance writers: Reading through a company’s blog is really important. If you are going to be writing posts for their blog or site, you need to know what topics they have already covered, what their voice is, what points you can expand upon or approach from a different angle, and what they are missing. It will also give you some idea of what is required in their posts, such as internal and external links, images, quotes from sources, and more.
#2: Skim through business directory websites
Similarly, you can search through sites that have press releases, such as PRWeb. This will give you some information about the company’s history, and their present activity. Compare their past to how they are currently doing, read about some upcoming projects they are working on, and you will have some invaluable details about the progress the company has made during recent years.
Use this information during the interview, and you will most likely impress the hiring manager.
3. Take a look at Quora
Quora is a fantastic site that will give you the answer to pretty much any question. (Bloggers/writers: This site is a great source for post inspiration and keyword research.)
Head on over to Quora to see what it’s like to work at the company you are looking into. More likely than not, a previous employee will have written about the company. This can give you some great insight into what the company morale is like, what the employees are like, and the overall employee satisfaction. You will also probably find a ton of other information that you can also store away for future use.
Example: I searched for information regarding a major company I used to work for. Apparently, I am not the only one who loved working for them! I also found information from customers, such as what they like and dislike about the company and staff members. It was certainly interesting to read some of that feedback, especially since I was part of the company for so long.
4. Follow their LinkedIn, and other social media accounts
Social media gives you a pretty solid idea of what the company culture is like. Do they answer questions regularly? When they do answer questions, do they do so in a personable manner? Some companies seem cold and robotic on their social media accounts, whereas others seem much more human and approachable. The latter is more likely to have a growing social media community, since they answer their customers, carry on conversations, and keep engaged with their followers.
Many companies post current news updates about their companies on LinkedIn that are different from updates on Twitter or Facebook. This will give you some behind-the-scenes details that you could use during your interview. A hiring manager is far more likely to be impressed by a candidate who knows what is going on with the company than by someone who just knows what is on the first page of Google.
5. Go undercover
I know it’s not exactly a covert operation, but it’s so much more fun to refer to it as “going undercover” than it is to just say be a sort of 'secret shopper'!
If the company you work for is a chain, go to a different location than the one you are applying to. Be a customer, and see how you are treated. Do their employees greet you when you come in the door? Are they friendly? Do they ask questions?
If it’s a digital company, read through reviews from previous clients/customers. Read Glassdoor posts from previous employees.
If you know someone who has worked for the company you are interviewing with, ask them what they thought of the company. Did they like working there? Why or why not? What was their favorite thing? Their least favorite?
Researching an employer is one of the best ways to prepare for an interview. By following these tips, you’ll learn important details about the employer, which will impress the hiring manager who is conducting the interview. Just make sure you have an equally impressive resume!