Research in preparation for a job interview means finding out everything you can about the employer and the job. You can look up the employer online to read about what they do. You can also do an online search for the job title to find out about similar jobs.
Doing your research will boost your confidence and help you ask good questions during the interview. Employers are usually impressed with potential employees doing this research – it shows you’re serious about wanting a job with them.
The benefits of researching a job interview
Researching a potential employer before a job interview has lots of benefits. It can help you:
- know something about the employer
- think of answers to common interview questions <LINK What are some common interview questions>
- think of questions for the employer
- show you have initiative and enthusiasm.
Research is also a good way to find out about an employer’s values. Values are the core principles that guide the employer’s actions.
If you’re going to work for an employer, it’s important that their values fit with yours. Knowing what their values are can help you decide whether you’ll take the job or not, if it’s offered to you.
What to research before a job interview
Some things you can find out about an employer before a job interview include:
- what they do
- who their customers are
- who their competitors are
- where they’re located, and whether they have more than one location
- the name of the Chief Executive Officer or head of the organisation
- what their values are (sometimes called vision and mission)
- recent press releases or news reports.
Finding out what people are saying online about the employer can also be useful. You can search for:
- customer reviews
- employee reviews
- social media mentions.
Now you know what you’re looking for, here are some ways to find it.
Ways to research before a job interview
Research the employer’s website
The employer’s website is a good place to start. Many company or organisation websites have an ‘About’ page that tell you all the key facts about them.
You’ll usually be able to find out about their mission and vision on the ‘About’ page. This will tell you about their values. You’ll also be able to find out about what they do, how they do it, and where they’re located.
Check to see if there are any press releases or media releases on the employer’s website. This will tell you what they’ve been doing recently.
Research news items about the employer
You can find out if the employer has been in the news lately by typing ‘news’ and the employer’s name into a search engine.
Researching news items gives you other people’s views of the employer. This can sometimes be more useful than the employer’s own views about themselves.
Research reviews and social media mentions
Search review sites like Yelp to get an idea of the employer’s reputation. You can also search social media mentions with a site like Social Mention to find out what people are saying about the employer right now.
Employee review sites like Glass Door and Seek’s Company Reviews also list employee reviews of companies. Keep in mind that these reviews only show one side of the story. An unhappy and anonymous ex-employee may just be trying to get even with the employer with a bad review.
Research similar employers
You can also research similar organisations or businesses to understand the wider market. Do an online search to find out about other companies or organisations that offer a similar product or service. Then you could research those companies using the methods outlined above.
Research similar position descriptions
A position description or job description is a list of all the duties that someone performs in their job. A good way to find out what’s involved in the job you’re going for is to find similar position descriptions.
Do an online search for the job title. This should return position descriptions of similar job vacancies.
This may also give you an idea about how much pay people in similar jobs receive. You can use this information when negotiating your wages. Our how to negotiate for what you want at work page for more information on negotiation skills for the workplace.
Pick up the phone and talk to someone
Small businesses might not have much of a web presence. If possible, you might think about calling and asking to talk to someone at the business.
Tell them you’re coming in for a job interview, and you’d like to ask a few questions about what they do. You can ask them any of the things in the ‘What to research before a job interview’ section above.
Research the employer’s annual report
If you’re going for a corporate job, it might be worth browsing the employer’s annual report. Larger employers put out an annual report each year that states the organisation’s financial situation. Many employers also use their annual report as a chance to talk about the work they’ve done that year. There’ll usually be information on the company’s leadership team in the annual report.
Go and visit the employer
If it’s a retail or hospitality business, or another type of organisation with a space that’s open to the public, you could go and have a look around. You could ask the staff what it’s like to work there. You could ask them if they have any tips for getting a job with the employer.
How much research to do before a job interview?
The ideas on this page are just to get you started. You don’t have to do all of them.
Our suggestion is that you should spend around four hours preparing for a job interview, including research.
How to use your job interview research
Use your research to prepare answers for interview questions. You can do this by showing you understand:
- what the job involves, and then demonstrating how you have the experience to do it well
- what the employer does, and then demonstrating how you can meet a need they have
- some of the problems the employer might face, and then demonstrating how you can help solve them
- what their values are, and then demonstrating that they match your own.
‘Demonstrating’ means to use examples from your own experience to show how you have put something into practice in the past.
Research can help you decide if you want the job
If you’re offered the job, remember that your research could also help you decide if you really want to work for this employer. It’s better to know this now, rather than in six months.