Congratulations! You have a face-to-face interview lined up in a couple of days. In this job market, if you have a live interview scheduled you’ve probably already successfully completed a phone interview and a couple of pre-assessments. Before you meet your next prospective employer, you need to do your homework. Think “CSI” or “Person of Interest.” You need to have as much background on the Company, its culture and mission and even your interviewer, if possible, as you can.
1. Review the company’s website. The “About Us” tab will have some history about the company and its mission and values. The Media tab will have the latest news and press releases. Take a look at their “Careers” tab and read all the information you can. I had an interview for a company and found on their Careers tab that they offered the same type of benefit plans that I introduced at a company I worked for. That gave me a great talking point and connection to that company in my phone interview.
2. Search LinkedIn. Various searches on LinkedIn will give you company information with the latest posts from the company and employees. Do a search to find connections you have in that company and send a message asking for information that can help in your interview. What’s the company really like? What are the plusses and minuses of working there?
3. Set up a Google Alert. Go to Google.com/alerts and set up an alert for news of that company. You’ll get the latest news sent to your email address. A great to keep up on the latest company news. You may get some important information on your phone on your way to the interview or while waiting in the lobby.
4. Observe the employees – If you’ll be working for a large company that has a dedicated location, you can go to that location in the morning when employees are arriving or in the evening when they leave. This tip works if you want to find out how employees dress at that company to help decide what to wear for the interview.
5. Shop the store. I once had an interview with a large retailer. As part of my research, I visited the store several times to observe the workplace atmosphere and engage with some of the employees. Every workplace has a mood and “feel” to it. What is your gut telling you about the company? Do the employees look happy, engaged and energetic? Are they clustered in groups talking with each other and ignoring the customers? Are their conversations upbeat or do you hear complaints about the company and managers?
All this research can help you decide whether the job and company are right for you. Pick out some positive observations to share and make a list of questions to ask during the interview. I was always impressed when an applicant did his homework and knew something about the company. I felt they didn’t just want any job but was interested in the company and what it had to offer. Poor fit with the company culture is the top reason employees leave a company within the first 90 days. Take the time to do some research before your interview. It can help you make the most of your interview and come to a good career decision.