There is one question which is asked at virtually every job interview and which if answered badly can leave a particularly poor impression with the interviewer. That question? The old chestnut – “What do you know about us?” Answering this with a “Not a lot” type response conveys a real lack of care, disinterest and complete lack of commitment. Not exactly qualities that an employer would be striving to acquire in a potential new recruit. Whilst of course preparing your answers for typical interview competency questions and the like is of course important too, don’t lose sight of spending some time undertaking some proper company research. This doesn’t have to be a difficult task, provided you do the right things. In need of a little guidance? Here are 5 Ways to Research a Company…
Visit the Company Website
Some of you may feel this is a pretty basic and standard thing to do; however surprisingly many candidates never do this, unless perhaps to confirm the location for their interview. A Company website can reveal all sorts of things – from details on products and services offered through to information on employees and staff profiles. Most companies these days, even the smallest ones, do have some sort of web presence – so use it. If there is a News section on the site or a company blog, read it – it might provide information on anything from recent award wins through to an insight into future plans.
Search on Social Media
Thanks to Social Networking sites, we now all have endless streams of new information at our disposal. For the purposes of researching a company, some sites are better than others. For example, with LinkedIn you can search for information on a company as well as any employees who have a profile. Their profiles may reveal information on job duties and typical tasks of their role as well as of course perhaps help you discover if you have any mutual or shared contacts, who may be able to help you get some ‘insider’ knowledge as it were. Look at Twitter also and see what other people are saying about the organisation. Check out Twitter Bios to see if current employees are tweeting and what is being said. This can really help you build up a better understanding of what the company culture is really like.
Check out the finances
Checking out the ‘money’ pages of the papers, company annual reports and statements is of course an essential way of finding out about a company’s performance from a financial point of view, especially for larger organisations. Also, look at what financial analysts and bloggers are saying as this can often also provide an insight into a company’s performance to date and expected future performance based on market factors and recent business decisions. One particularly useful site which has sprung up in recent years has been Duedil. This is an excellent free tool which openly provides business, accounting and director information on all businesses registered in the UK and Ireland. Although it’s an excellent tool for those in business to assess the performance of other businesses, it’s also a great resource for jobseekers when researching a company.
Browse the internet
Thanks to the internet, researching a company is easier now than it ever was. Simply do a search on Google and see what you find; search Google News articles for any mention of the company or organisation. Check out industry related websites or even competitors’ websites for up to date information on the sector itself. Also look at forums – even forums that may appear unrelated entirely. Simply doing a Google search on “Company Name” + “Forum” could bring up all sorts of results. You may find forums where disgruntled customers are complaining about some aspect or another but you may also find instances where a product or service is being praised or reviewed positively. All this information can help you build a fuller impression of the organisation when you are doing your research.
If you know someone who works in a company or even once did, it certainly would do no harm to bend their ear as it were. Ask questions about what the company is really like. Insight gained from someone who has actually worked there is invaluable – provided of course that they tell the truth! If they left in a perhaps less than savoury fashion, chances are you may not get the real story or truth. Websites such as Glassdoor are a great way of finding out about companies from current and past employees. Everything from salary information to the pros and the cons can be obtained pretty easily.
We hope you find these tips useful. Got any others you’d like to share? Why not let us know via the comments section below.