How to Prepare for an Interview - Doing Company Research

Company Research

The foundation for successfully preparing for an interview is to research the organization you are seeking employment with. It can be argued that you should perform this research prior to trying to secure an interview so that you focus on those opportunities that best suit you. But in any case, there are three reasons that you must do this step thoroughly;

  1. To answer the question: Do I really want to work there?
  2. This research is the basis for formulating thought provoking questions to ask.
  3. The information you gather will help you plan to position yourself as the best candidate for the job.

There are potentially many ways to find out information on a company, but here we will focus on three of the most productive;

  • On-line resources. In many cases you can find a tremendous amount of information about a company using the internet. But if you are seeking employment with a small privately held organization you may need to rely on other sources. Good sources of on-line information are:

  • The company's website - This is how they want to be perceived.
  • Financial websites like Google Finance, Yahoo Finance, Money Central and The Wall Street Journal On-line will provide financial information as well as the latest new stories about the company. Here you can see how others are perceiving the company.
  • Linked-In. This business social networking site can point you to contacts that can help you with your research. You should consider joining if you are not yet a member.

  • Industry publications and business directories. There are many valuable directories that are expensive to own or access on-line. But most are available at your local library. Ask a research librarian to help identify which resources would help you the most in your job search. An example is the Corporate Yellow Pages. This book lists the leaders of the organization and their backgrounds. Much can be learned from this type of research.

  • Contacts. While this takes more effort, if you can talk with someone who has a relationship with the company you will uncover valuable information not available to most other candidates. Try to identify current or former employees, suppliers or others who have had contact with the company or its representatives. Your network or a social networking site like Linked-In can help you identify the people to talk with.

What to Search For

Now that you know where to look, let's identify what to search for;

  • Company strengths/weaknesses - Financial, sales, products and people
  • Industry trends - Where does the company fit in the industry
  • Identify competitors strengths/weaknesses
  • Current strategies and initiatives
  • Company culture

Based on what you find or don't find you can formulate questions to demonstrate your preparedness and fill in the answers to things that you want to know more about.

The reason that this research technique works is that most people put in minimal preparation and are in react mode during the interview. Those that take the time to prepare will clearly stand out above the rest.


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