What Should You Know About a Company Before an Interview?
To help you prepare for your next job interview, we’ve gathered insights from industry experts, including CEOs, HR managers, and career coaches. From assessing company health and changes to envisioning yourself in the company’s future, here are 12 essential things you should know about a company before stepping into the interview room.
- Assess Company Health and Changes
- Comprehend Company’s Core Identity
- Investigate Employee Tenure Length
- Stay Informed on Recent News
- Master the Job Description and Updates
- Learn the Company’s History and Vision
- Understand Industry Landscape and Competitors
- Know the Company’s Leadership
- Research Company Values and Mission
- Align Career Goals With Company Vision
- Think About Your Role in the Industry
- Envision Yourself in the Company’s Future
Assess Company Health and Changes
Aside from general information such as a company’s products or services, its mission and values, and work culture, candidates should always research the company’s recent news and activity. This includes monitoring general company health, such as their IPO status and growth prospects, or any significant developments like a product launch, a shuffle in management, or signs of mergers, acquisitions, or restructuring.
Understanding the company’s health and any upcoming changes can provide valuable insights into the potential impact on the role you’re applying for. If a company is undergoing a merger, it may show potential organizational changes, shifts in responsibilities, or new opportunities for growth. Similarly, if there’s a restructuring in progress, it’s important to assess how it may affect the team or department you’d be working with.
Comprehend Company’s Core Identity
Every successful company has a unique value proposition that can be summed up by stating what problem they solve, who they solve it for, and how they do it differently than other businesses offering similar products or services.
This core identity influences every other aspect of the organization, including what skills and traits they need in employees. Understanding this before you go into the interview allows you to tailor your answers to match, not just explaining why you’re a strong candidate, but what makes you ideally suited to this specific role.
Investigate Employee Tenure Length
When joining a company with high staff turnover, it can be tempting to believe that we are resilient compared to previous employees, and thus the same will not happen to us.
In reality, however, those former employees all held the same mentality and still left the organization early. It is much safer to consider high turnover as an early warning sign that something could be wrong with the organization itself, rather than its people.
Prospective employees should always investigate the average tenure length of employees at this company, which can be easily done through LinkedIn or Glassdoor. If you discover that employees rarely stay long at this company, heed this warning carefully as it could be symptomatic of serious issues.
Stay Informed on Recent News
Before your interview, make sure you do a quick search to see if/when the company has recently been in the news.
You will probably learn some beneficial information that you can incorporate into your conversation. For example, if there’s been an acquisition in the last year, you’ll be able to talk about that with your interviewer (and not be surprised if it comes up).
Or, maybe there’s a new marketing campaign that just launched. Offer your congratulations. You’ll quickly prove that you did your research before the interview.
Master the Job Description and Updates
Before an interview, it’s essential for candidates to gather information about the company they’re interviewing with, especially the job description and requirements. Thoroughly review the job description to understand the specific requirements and responsibilities of the role.
Familiarize yourself with the skills, qualifications, and experience they are seeking. This knowledge enables you to tailor your responses to highlight your relevant experience and demonstrate how you can contribute to the company’s goals.
Stay updated on any recent company announcements, product launches, or initiatives. This shows your proactive approach and genuine interest in the company’s requirements. It also allows you to ask insightful questions during the interview and showcase your enthusiasm for their current projects.
Founder, The Dadapreneur Blog
Learn the Company’s History and Vision
Going way back in your research can make it look like you know everything about a company, even if you just scanned its history on LinkedIn. All excellent companies have a founding story, and it usually includes some forward-thinking goals that they have yet to reach. By referencing these long-term dreams, you’ll look like someone who can help the team expand to meet their big ideas.
Most candidates focus on what the company is doing today, and while that’s a great start when interview prepping, going back a little further will convince the hiring manager you’ve been watching this business since the start and are invested in its growth.
Understand Industry Landscape and Competitors
Want to truly excel at your interview and show your potential? Then understand the company’s competitors and industry landscape to showcase what you can bring to the table. By researching key competitors and staying informed about industry trends, you can signal your knowledge and ability to contribute meaningfully.
Begin by analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, and market positioning of competitors to gain insights into what sets the company apart. Familiarize yourself with industry challenges and emerging opportunities to showcase your strategic thinking and problem-solving skills.
This research will enable you to showcase your understanding of the broader business environment and position yourself as a candidate who can navigate industry dynamics, helping the company maintain its competitive edge in a rapidly evolving market.
Know the Company’s Leadership
I like to know who owns the company and the executive leadership team. Many companies list the leadership team on their website. You can also discover who works for the company from a search of the company on LinkedIn.
Depending on which state the company was organized in, you can look to the governing body (the Corporation Commission or Secretary of State) to find out the company’s owners and directors.
Research Company Values and Mission
Before an interview, candidates should delve deeper into the company’s values and mission to gain an understanding of the company’s cultural DNA. Candidates should explore the company’s website and external platforms, such as social media, employee reviews, and even industry forums.
By doing so, candidates can gain insights into the company’s working environment, employee satisfaction, and overall reputation within the industry. By understanding a company’s cultural DNA, candidates can align their own values and career aspirations with the organization’s ethos.
This deeper understanding enables candidates to ask thoughtful and tailored questions during the interview process, demonstrating their genuine interest in the company and their ability to align their skills and goals with the organization’s objectives. Gaining a holistic understanding of the company you’re interviewing with can be overlooked, but will provide candidates with a competitive edge.
Align Your Career Goals With Company Vision
A job seeker should understand a company’s values before an interview. These values show what a company finds important and how it works. If a company shares its values online, the job seeker should take time to read them. This can help the person fit in better if they get the job.
Understanding a company’s mission and goals is also key. This will help a candidate align their personal career goals with the company’s vision.
If a company’s goals and your personal career ambitions match, it could be a great place for you to grow and succeed. You will contribute effectively and find personal satisfaction in your role. So, do your homework on the company’s goals as well before the interview.
Think About Your Role in the Industry
Learn about the industry and how your role can have a part in the expansion of the company’s services as the broader industry develops.
This shows a level of commercial awareness and that you’re already thinking long term, and are envisioning how your role can develop with the industry itself.
Envision Yourself in the Company’s Future
Competitive industries working in a tight hiring environment have the luxury of focusing only on top talent. They’re thinking long-term, and only moving on workers with vision.
So, before heading into an interview, take some time to consider where the entire industry is heading, how it relates to this employer, and how you might lead in any upcoming transitions. If there is a contract or project on the horizon, mention it; you’ll show you’re invested in the company’s future.
Most candidates will go in with a knowledge of what the company has accomplished. While this is a great start, it’s far more valuable to talk about where the business is going and the role you’ll play in its advancement.
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