How to Research a Company For a Job

Man researching on laptop

Preparing to apply for a job is like preparing for the SAT. Before you take the exam, you probably already have most of the skills you need to do well. However, studying what’s on the test can help you know what to expect and to use that information to better prepare.

Researching a company before an interview is a lot like studying for a test. Knowing the right answers can help you ace your interview and distinguish yourself as the most qualified candidate. It can also help you make sure the job is right for you.

Why Research a Company Before an Interview?

Have you ever given a movie a review for material you never actually watched? That same principle applies when you attend a job interview without having researched the company beforehand. Having a little background information can do a lot for your confidence. Being informed can pay dividends!

Whether you’re applying for insurance jobs, or a position with a market research firm or IT position, doing your homework before interviewing with a company sends the right messages to employers. Hiring managers aren’t looking to hire just anyone. They want the most qualified candidate they can find. Showing you have background knowledge demonstrates an authentic interest in the position and immediately sets you apart from less-informed candidates.

Researching a company before the interview can improve the quality of your conversation with the person interviewing you. It lets you develop a better sense of whether the company is right for you -- and if you’re right for the company. For instance, reading up on goals, plans, and initiatives that are important to the company (from either a cultural or business perspective) can help you offer up topical points of conversation, current market events, and even projects you’ve worked on that closely align with their values. This can help make you a stand-out candidate during an interview.

Researching a company for a job can also help you identify red flags. You don’t want to end up working with a company that has a long history of egregious employee complaints. Conversely, an organization filled with wonderful employees may nevertheless be suffering from poor financial health. You don’t know until you’ve done your research and examined the company from multiple angles and with several reputable sources.

How to Research a Company Before The Interview

  • Size up their competition. You can tell a great deal about a company by looking at their competitors. It can give you a better idea of the industry as a whole and guide your search for information in the right direction. This information can be found easily via a quick browse through LinkedIn using the “Other Companies People Viewed” section.
  • Check out their social media profiles. Consider exploring a company’s social presence. Seeing how a company interacts with others on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or any other platform can give you a wealth of information. Are they responsive to complaints? Do they use a casual tone of voice? Does their page have very little engagement? Even reading a few retweeted news headlines or press releases can help give you material to use during an interview.
  • Talk to past or current employees. Company culture can be tough to research, but not impossible. Though there are many useful resources for researching companies for jobs, one of your best options is to find a past or current employee, and try to learn as much as you can.
  • Find out who will interview you. Take a moment to find who will be interviewing you. It’s tough to make a connection with someone when you know nothing about them, which is a problem you can solve by browsing their LinkedIn or Twitter profiles. This is usually possible by following an email address. However, if all else fails, a direct request for the name of the person who will conduct the interview can also work.

Tools to Use When Researching a Company

Social media is a window into a person’s life, and a window into the life of a company. Although you can find people and companies present on almost any social media platform, the information on LinkedIn is often some of the most helpful for researching companies for jobs. It can help you narrow your search along the lines of your interests and expertise, delivering content more relevant to your niche.

Learning about company culture without interviewing someone can be tough, but not impossible. Glassdoor can help you get a sense of the positive or negative things people have to say about a company online. Sometimes, it’s even possible to get a preview of potential interview questions.

Finally, it rarely hurts to ask friends and family what they know or have heard. This is especially true when considering how to research a job for a regional company. Between the collective knowledge and networking resources of your friends and family, you can learn quite a bit.

Preparing the Application

Researching a company before an interview is a multi-step process. But ultimately, if your preparedness comes across in your interview, it might just help land you a job.

Of course, being confident you’re headed in the right direction is just as important. Take a moment to try MyPath’s Career Wizard Quiz to see what job could be perfect for you.