It can be easy to forget that a job interview should be a two-way street – not only is the employer trying to determine whether you fit their needs, but you should also be evaluating whether they fit yours.
Many job seekers don't view the interview this way, and as a result, put themselves at a disadvantage. After all, most companies research candidates online before hiring them – and even if they don't, you sent them an overview of relevant information about yourself – your resume.
Not only does researching an employer help even the playing field in the interview, but it also shows that you're committed to getting hired. Here are some key things you should know about a company before sitting down for an interview.
What do they do?
First and foremost, you should understand what the company does. It may sound obvious, but not being able to supply a clear answer to this question in an interview will severely hurt your chances of being hired.
The best way to find this information is often a combination of the company's website – where you can learn how they view what they do – and Wikipedia – where you can usually get a much more clearly worded, bare-bones definition.
What will you do?
Again, this may sound obvious, but not knowing what the job they're interviewing for entails is one of the biggest mistakes a candidate can make. Your goal in the interview is to demonstrate and explain what makes you the best candidate to carry out the duties of the position – how can you expect to successfully do that if you don't know what those duties entail?
What are their values?
Most interviewees will be able to explain what the company does, but you can really impress your interviewer by demonstrating an understanding of why they do it. This can usually be gleaned from the company's mission and values – both of which can typically be found on their website. This type of information is also usually found on their social media accounts and in interviews with company leadership.
Not only is this a great way to show your commitment to getting this job, but assessing a business's mission and values and how they align with your own personal values can be a great indicator of whether this company is a good fit for you.
What's new and noteworthy?
A company's function and mission are typically somewhat broad in scope and relatively unchanging. But what have they been up to recently to better achieve their goals? Are they offering any new products or services? Opening offices in new markets? Have they recently taken up a new cause or started any new initiatives?
This is all great information with which to arm yourself before entering an interview. It shows that you did more than a quick look at their homepage, and that you're genuinely interested in what they do as a company. Start by looking at the company's press room, where you can find information they've prepared for reporters and the media. A Google news search for the company or the names of company leaders can also provide useful information.
Who are the leaders?
As mentioned above, knowing a bit about the company's leadership team can be helpful in researching and preparing for an interview. Many corporate websites include brief bios on a number of their key leaders, and in some cases you can even find them on social media.
Depending on the size of the company and the position you're applying for, it's not unheard of for managers or executives to get involved in the hiring process.
Who is your interviewer?
As we mentioned, going into the interview, they already know a lot about you, so it can't hurt to find out what you can about them. Often, your interviewer will be the person to contact you to schedule the interview. However, if this isn't the case, ask your contact for the name of the person you should ask for when you arrive for the interview.
While knowing the interviewer's title and work history can potentially help you prepare for what kind of questions to expect, it's often more useful to simply get a feel for their personality. After all, employers often use interviews to gauge how well you'd fit with the team culture. Look for shared interests and other potential conversation topics that you can use to build a rapport.