Company research for a job interview

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Company research is essential to gain a broad understanding of the business you are seeking employment with. Every job, company and interviewer is different, so there are no clear rules on how much study is required.

However, there is no doubt, that the more you know about a business the better. Plus your company background study will enhance your confidence and hopefully impress the interviewer.

Why should I bother to do any research?

At your job interview you may be asked what you know about the company. It is a very common interview question, which you should be able to answer in some detail.

By asking a simple question like this the interviewer is assessing your ability to prepare for an event (in this case – your job interview). Background research requires motivation, time, planning and comprehension. Answering the question with a well researched answer will impress the interviewer and provide a level of your research skills and abilities.

Example

Question: "What do you know about this company?"

  1. "Erm . . . not much, I'd never heard of this company before today."
  2. "You manufacture circuit boards for computers and other electronic stuff."
  3. "You're an established business with over 2000 employees and have branches overseas in England and Germany. Your main products are circuit boards for the 'SG' range of graphics cards, which are made in partnership with Supersoft. etc. "

It is not difficult to see which answer would impress the interviewer. Breaking-up Answer 3 we can see a number of key elements which show some study has been done. The size and business locations are described together with detailed product knowledge and business partners.

Where can I find company information?

The best place to do your company research is on the Internet. If you are not on the Internet your local library should have computers which are connected. Libraries also give you access to allsorts of information on businesses, through magazines and journals, some offer searchable computer databases.

Please don't be discouraged by the time and effort needed for basic company research. It can be done in less than an hour, even quicker with practice.

Your first port-of-call should be google. Almost all companies have their own web site; this will probably give you all the information you need. Perform a search on the company name and see what results you get.

The company website could provide you with:













  • Company history
  • Directors
  • Products
  • Business partners
  • Recent changes
  • News
  • Vacancies
  • Brochures
  • Awards
  • Future projects

When researching a large company it is advisable to go a step further and use independent sources if possible. A good place to start is the BBC at www.bbc.co.uk, here you can search for any recent news stories which may not have found their way onto the companies' web site. Many newspapers are online too; some provide similar search facilities. Independent sources can also provide you with an objective view of the company, plus their competitors and position within the marketplace.

Senior position

If you are being interviewed for a relatively senior position your research should be broad enough to include other factors such as:

  • Corporate background
  • Current and target customers
  • Industry overview
  • Business market share
  • Competitors and competing products
  • Social / environmental responsibility
  • Stock prices
  • Financial information
  • Competitive advantages

Now do some research on the job you have applied for.

Modified: 04 November 2013

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