So you’ve been requested to attend an interview… what next? Conducting thorough pre-interview research is absolutely one of the best ways that you can stand out in a competitive market. By following some (or ideally all!) of the suggestions outlined below you will find yourself able to present the most positive and well-prepared account of yourself.
1. Company website and careers site
This first one is fairly obvious, but I’m talking about going further than clicking on the ‘About Us’ tab and calling it a day. What’s the company’s mission statement and strategic direction for the mid to long-term? Who’s their target market and exactly what products / services do they provide? Businesses of a certain size are also likely to have a careers site that will detail the EVP, development opportunities for employees and what makes the company a great place to work. Make sure you brush up on this information at the very least!
2. In the news
If you’re looking for more of an objective view of the company (and I use that word cautiously!) make sure you find out why the business has recently been in the press. Sources like the Financial Times and Forbes will be able to provide detail on recent deals, investment, acquisitions, financial performance and any scandals that are worth being aware of!
3. Company Annual Reports
If you’ve still got a thirst for the financials, check out the company accounts. Many larger businesses will have their Annual Reports available for download on their website; this information is accessible for anyone to browse and provides a great indication of how healthy a company is. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that Annual Reports are generally published for shareholders and potential investors with positively framed information, so it’s important to balance your research with other sources.
4. The wider industry and competitors
Taking a broader approach to your research will absolutely set you aside from other candidates at interview stage. Find out who the company’s key competitors are and what differentiates one from the other. It’s also well worth doing some further research into the industry where the company operates – look at overall industry buoyancy and key headlines in the news.
5. Social Media
Social media’s a fairly broad avenue to explore when it comes to pre-interview research; however there are a few quick wins to take advantage of. Check out your interviewer’s professional online profile: how long have they been at the company, what’s their background, have you got any shared connections etc? It’s also important to visit the company’s social pages / profiles to see the type of content they are publishing and the style of communication they adopt. Finally, what are their followers / fans saying about them online?
6. Use your recruitment agency
Recruitment agencies can provide a unique insight into the style, history and culture of a business. If you’re interviewing via an agency ensure you make the most of their client relationship and take advantage of the knowledge they hold.
The Trip Advisor of the recruitment world; use glassdoor.co.uk to find out how the business is perceived from a candidate and employee perspective. How do people rate the: work/life balance, culture and values, senior management etc? What’s more, you might even find a sneaky list of previous interview questions that a kind candidate has posted!
8. Awards and accolades
Whilst it’s great to be able to demonstrate an extended knowledge of the business by highlighting that you’re aware of industry accolades; the employer certainly won’t mind reminiscing the successes. Massage their ego by emphasising these fantastic achievements and tie it in to why working for such a business appeals to you as a candidate.
9. Who do you know?
Hearing it from the horse’s mouth is always best. Reach out to your personal and professional networks to see if you know anyone who works (or worked) at the business. Speak to these individuals to get the inside scoop on company culture, internal projects and what it’s actually like to work there.
10. Google Maps
And finally, an obvious but important tip! Make sure you find out exactly where the company is located on the map and where possible do a ‘dummy run’ of your journey to avoid any unnecessary hold-ups or confusion on the day.
If you’re able to tackle three or four of the research avenues listed above you will be in a far better position to absolutely nail your next interview. What’s more, the additional time you’ve spent preparing will enable you to construct some really interesting questions for your interviewer (over and above the standard ‘What does a typical day in the role look like?’). So, I guess the final thing to say is good luck!