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How to research a company before an interview
So you've found yourself in that limbo between arranging the interview and actually meeting the company and the feeling of accomplishment at getting this far may leave you tempted to just sit back and relax. Don't.
The preparation before a job interview is just as important as the actual date and swatting up on your potential employers beforehand could give you an edge over other candidates. Demonstrating knowledge of the company or industry will make you stand out from the rest while also implying your strong research skills. This was once an arduous task of library visits and telephone directories, but thanks to the digital age, researching a company before an interview is easier than ever; if you know where to look.
The first and most obvious place to visit is the company website. You may think that researching a company requires little more than landing on the homepage but to get the most out of your fact finding mission you'll have to delve beyond this. The website should give you access to the company's history, mission statement and what service they provide, so it pays to move around the site a bit.
Not everyone has one, but increasingly, businesses are increasing their online presence by writing blogs. This could be a goldmine for information and give you an insight into the company voice and what topics are currently relevant to them. This is also likely to contain general industry information which can help back up your own knowledge.
To keep up with the increasingly digital masses, the majority of companies have moved into the realms of social media. This means that most businesses can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and even platforms like instagram. Due to the nature of social media, finding these accounts can indicate how the company communicates with their audience and what kind of image they try to portray.
Closely linked to social media (pardon the pun) is that professional stalwart LinkedIn. The likelihood is that companies and their employees will be on the social network of the business world. Using LinkedIn will allow you to see what connections you have to the company (you should already have a LinkedIn profile) and explore their staff to see what kind of people they like to hire. You can also try and glean some information about your interview to see if you have some similar ground that you can touch upon.
While it may produce nothing, typing the company name into a news site or an aggregator like Google News, could throw up some interesting stories about your potential employers. Small businesses are less likely to have made the news, but just scouring for any market relatable information that you can demonstrate in the interview will imply a knowledge of the industry and impress the interviewer.
While learning as much about your potential employers is both useful and commendable, the interview isn't a test of how much information you can regurgitate at a time. The interviewer is more interested in what you can offer the company, but using some carefully selected data to support your answers will both impress the interviewer and give you that edge over other, less informed candidates.