The key to standing out in a job interview doesn’t just lie in showcasing your skills and experience. It’s also about demonstrating genuine interest and knowledge about the company you’re applying to. By conducting thorough research and taking the time to prepare insightful questions for your interviewer, you’re taking a proactive approach to your career.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of researching a company and how to prepare insightful questions that will leave a lasting impression on your interviewer.
How to do thorough online research on a company
1. Research the company’s official website
Start by exploring the company’s mission, vision, and values on its official website. Understanding their core principles will give you a better idea of their purpose, goals, and what they stand for. As Alex Alexiev, Career Consultant and Founder of Office Topics suggests, ‘Aligning your personal values with those of the company is a key step in demonstrating how you’d be a great cultural fit.’
The next step is to familiarize yourself with the company’s products or services. Look for information on their key offerings, target customers, and unique selling points so you can tailor your answers during the interview and show that you’ve done your homework.
Finally, learn about the company’s organizational structure and leadership team. The information you find will give you an insight into the company’s hierarchy and the people who drive its success. You’ll also gain an understanding of the decision-makers you might be working with or reporting to in your potential role.
2. Look at their social media accounts
Check the company’s social media profiles and search for recent news articles to stay updated on their latest achievements, product launches, or announcements. Your findings can provide valuable context for your interview and make your conversation more engaging.
Browse through employee review websites like Glassdoor to get a sense of their company culture and employee engagement initiatives. Look for information on their work environment, team-building activities, and employee testimonials. This will help you gauge if the company’s culture aligns with your own values and work preferences.
You can also look for information on the industry they operate in. Research the current trends, challenges, and opportunities in the market. This will help you showcase your industry knowledge and display your ability to think strategically during the interview.
3. Inspect the industry and perform a competitor analysis
Identify and understand the key trends shaping the industry, as well as potential growth areas. This way you can demonstrate your awareness of the market dynamics and your ability to contribute to the company’s growth.
Examine its main competitors and their strategies to get an idea of the competitive landscape and learn how the company differentiates itself from its rivals.
Take notes on what sets the company apart from its competitors, be it through innovation, customer service, or other unique selling points. Demonstrating your understanding of these differentiators will show your interviewer that you’re well-prepared and knowledgeable about the company’s position in the market.
4. Check for financial information and performance (if publicly available)
If the company is publicly traded, review its annual reports and financial statements to understand its financial health, market position, and growth trajectory. Evaluate the company’s stability and potential for future success.
Determine the company’s market position, growth rate, and overall performance in the industry. Examine the company’s future plans and investments, such as new product development, expansion into new markets, or strategic partnerships.
Your research will allow you to discuss the company’s achievements and future prospects with confidence during the interview.
10 essential questions to prepare for the interviewer (+1 bonus)
Typically, interviewers will provide an opportunity for you to ask questions at the end of the interview. However, it’s also acceptable to ask relevant questions throughout the conversation when they naturally arise.
Ensure that your questions are evenly spaced throughout the interview, without dominating the conversation. Strike a balance between asking questions and listening to the interviewer’s responses, while also providing thoughtful answers to their questions.
1. What are the expectations and responsibilities?
Prepare questions about the expectations and responsibilities of the role you’re applying for. Ask about the day-to-day tasks, goals, and priorities for the position to show your enthusiasm and readiness to contribute effectively to the team.
2. How are the team dynamics and collaboration?
Inquire about the team you’ll be working with, their dynamics, and how they collaborate. Understanding the team structure and culture will help you adapt more quickly to the work environment and contribute to a harmonious team atmosphere.
3. Are there opportunities for growth and career development?
Ask about the opportunities for professional growth and development within the role and the company. This demonstrates your commitment to continuous learning and your desire to excel in your career.
4. How are the company values put into practice?
Ask the interviewer how the company’s values are put into practice in their day-to-day operations and decision-making processes. This will give you a better understanding of how the company’s culture aligns with your personal values and beliefs.
5. Is there job flexibility?
Inquire about the company’s policies on work-life balance, flexibility, and remote work. This information will help you gauge whether the company’s approach aligns with your preferences and needs.
6. Are there any diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives?
Ask about the company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and how they foster an inclusive work environment. This demonstrates your commitment to creating a positive and supportive workplace for everyone.
7. What is the company’s position within the industry?
Ask about the company’s position within the industry and its strategies for maintaining or improving that position. This shows your awareness of the competitive landscape and your interest in contributing to the company’s success.
8. What are some future growth opportunities and challenges?
Inquire about the company’s plans for future growth and any challenges they foresee. This demonstrates your strategic thinking and your ability to look beyond the immediate role.
9. How do you adapt to market changes?
Ask about how the company innovates and adapts to changes in the market. This will show your interest in the company’s long-term success and your willingness to contribute to its evolution.
10. What are your favourite aspects of working at the company?
Inquire about the interviewer’s favourite aspects of working at the company. This can provide valuable insights into the company culture and environment from an employee’s perspective.
Bonus: Do you have any advice for a successful start in the role?
Ask the interviewer for their advice on how to succeed in the role and make a positive impact from day one. This shows your eagerness to learn and your commitment to being a valuable team member.
Acing a job interview is about more than showcasing your skills and experience; it’s about showing your genuine interest in the company, your alignment with its values, and your potential to contribute to its success.
By thoroughly researching the company and preparing insightful questions for your interviewer, you’ll position yourself as an engaged and proactive candidate who’s ready to make a positive impact.
As Tony Robbins says, “Success is 80% psychology and 20% mechanics”. With the right mindset, thorough preparation, and a genuine interest in the company, you’ll be well on your way to a successful interview and a fulfilling career.
Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge and strategies for conducting company research and how to prepare insightful questions, it’s time to put these tips into practice and take control of your career journey.