Interview advice
By Gemma Morris
11th November 2014

You wouldn't dream of going to a job interview without first preparing to speak about your qualifications and aspirations – at least we hope you wouldn't! But don’t forget the other side of the coin either – learning about the company you’re potentially going to join.

It’s essential you invest some time in researching the company before you meet them. If you go to an interview ill-equipped to talk about the business, at best you’ll appear unprepared, but even worse, you could come across as indifferent. If the search comes down to two candidates who are equally qualified, but one had expressed keen interest in the company, and the other seemed disinterested, it’s an easy guess as to who gets the job.

Simply put, researching a company before going to a job interview is just as important as working on your CV. This isn't about a cursory glance at the ‘About Us’ section of their website, that’s taken as given. The key is to take time to formulate some thoughtful questions about the company and your possible place within it.

If you've learned about a new product launch or an expansion, for example, you may want to ask about the role data management is expected to play in the company’s future. If it’s a fairly small, entrepreneurial company, take the time to understand the brand story and how they've managed their information to date; if it’s a large corporation, try to get some sense of both past history and new developments. Make an impression by demonstrating an avid interest and a bit of initiative.

With that in mind, here are some sources for learning more about the company you’re applying to.

  1. Start with the company website.

It may seem obvious, but do have an in-depth look around to discover more about their history, mission statement, recent news and press releases, and management profiles – whatever is available. If the site includes a blog section, read through it to learn more about the topics that matter to them – whether they be sustainability initiatives, corporate social responsibility, technology developments, you’ll get a sense of what’s important. We know a few candidates who’ve signed up to receive email newsletters and earned brownie points for commenting on the content in them.

  1. Next, look at social media.

If the company has a Twitter feed or a Facebook page, scroll through for a quick look at what the company shares with its followers and how successful it is at gathering social media fans. This could give you an insight into the scale and type of data you may be working with. The public face of the brand lets you know what’s new and noteworthy, and gives you a sense of what the company’s “voice” is through its customer engagement. Depending on the type of company, they may have an Instagram or Pinterest page as well. And of course, be sure to check their LinkedIn page or groups they’re active in – you may even have some connections in common.

  1. And on that note: network.

If you know someone who already works there, or has done in the past, they can be a very useful source of insider information that isn't publically available. If not, your recruiter may be able to put you in touch with someone else they've placed at the company.

  1. Mystery shop.

Whatever the product or service offered by the company, it’s a great idea to buy it or at least experience what it feels like to be one of their customers. That could mean visiting a shop, shopping online or calling to make an enquiry. Information Management professionals who can show this sort of customer-centric approach often receive glowing praise when we follow up after the interview.

With a bit of upfront effort, you can show a potential employer that you have all the initiative and enthusiasm they’re looking for. 

What have you found useful in an interview setting in terms of familiarising yourself with a company? How have you been able to work findings from your research seamlessly into the conversation? We’d love to hear from you.

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