8 Ways to Research a Company Before an Interview
A successful interview begins well before you find yourself sitting across from a potential employer, putting your best self forward. It starts with a lot of hard work and time well-spent to research a company you’re interested in joining.
The good news is that, thanks to the Web, there’s a treasure trove of great information about most companies online. The exception, in business aviation, might be that there’s a dearth of material on flight departments run by high-net-worth individuals and families. But—not to worry—you can always engage your network behind the scenes to find out what you need to know.
The bottom line is that there’s no excuse to not be really knowledgeable about a company you’re thinking about going to work for, especially if it’s a publicly traded company.
Remember, as an interviewee, it’s your job to demonstrate your knowledge and commitment to help the company meet its goals and exceed its clients’ expectations. Convincing the interviewers that you can help them be successful in that endeavor ought to be your primary goal during the interview.
To assist you, below are eight effective tactics to not only help you sound smart and well-informed, but also to make sure that you’ll attract the interviewer’s interest.
First, however, here are a couple of links to recent API blogs that tackle the very subject of job interview preparation. This one focuses on preparing for a job interview and another offers some sure-fire ways to stand out during the hiring process.
And here are the resources to tap when you research a company:
1. Scour the company’s website
Checking out the company’s website is almost a no-brainer. Use it to try and learn what’s important to the company’s leadership team. Find out if they’re thought leaders in their industry. Do they effectively and succinctly address the nature of their business and tell you who their customers are?
You’ll also want to use the Web (and other resources) to research:
- Products / Services – How do they make their money? Are they well diversified? Are they a leader in their space? Are you interested in the product? Can you see yourself “getting behind it” and supporting it?
- Leadership Team – Who are the members of the senior leadership team? What about their education and background? Are they progressive and diverse?
- Values – Do the company’s values align with yours? After all, cultural fit is an essential component of the hiring process for both you and the employer.
- Clients/Customers – Who are their customers? Where are they located? Is it a regional, national or international presence?
- Social Responsibility – Being socially and environmentally conscious is a great way for employers to attract customers and build a positive reputation, but also it’s also important to attract and retain employees! What types of charitable initiatives are underway (e.g., volunteer projects and annual fundraisers)?
- Longevity – How long have they been in business?
- Media – How are they portrayed in articles, news clips, etc.?
- Blogs – Don’t forget to read through the company’s blog posts. Are they actively publishing fresh content or is their blog stale and out-of-date?
- Financials – Check out the investor relations Web page (if the company is public) to read their latest earnings report, annual report and financial statements. Is the company stable?
2. Google their competition
Be sure to research companies that directly compete with your target company. Get to know who their competitors are and compare what they’re doing online and elsewhere with the company you’d like to work for. And wouldn’t it be impressive to a prospective employer if, during an interview, you were able to rattle off a summary of what their competition is doing?
3. Check out Glassdoor.com
Another Web tool to use is this increasingly popular site, which describes itself as an anonymous workplace community that offers an insider’s look at salaries, employee reviews and interview questions. You’ll find a lot of complaining by past employees, but the site can also show both pros and cons for that company. You can also identify salary expectations and prepare for interviews by seeing actual interview questions that were posed to other job candidates.
4. Research their industry associations
NBAA’s member directory is a wealth of information for the business aviation industry. Is this employer a member and are they active within NBAA or other aviation organizations? Have they done interviews in industry publications? Do they give back to the industry by volunteering on committees?
If it’s a healthcare company or a financial company you’re interested in, for example, are they making strides in their vertical industry? Are they a leader in their trade?
5. Review their social media activity
- Are they active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, etc.?
- What are they posting about open jobs, customer service issues, product launches, etc.?
- How often do they communicate with their audiences?
- What’s the nature of their company culture? What do their management team’s LinkedIn profiles look like?
- Who do you know from the company that you’re already “linked in” with?
- Are your interviewers’ profiles on LinkedIn and what do they look like?
- What other positions are open?
- Are you “following” them to get updates on their news?
6. Talk to your friends, colleagues and aviation network members
What does your network of associates know about life at the company? Have any of them worked there in the past? Can any of them give you insights into the company’s culture?
7. Consult your API representative, if applicable
One of the best parts about working with an aviation recruiter, such as API, is that we’ll help align you with the company’s hiring objectives. It’s our job to do a deep dive into the hiring company’s culture before we send in our candidates, so we’ll help you be prepared to know what to expect.
8. Know the key stakeholders and decision makers
Before each interview, it’s important to know the key players (e.g., the people you’ll be meeting with). During the scheduling process, ask your recruiter and/or the HR rep to share you with the names, titles and tenure for each individual that you’ll be meeting with.
Bonus: See if you can find out their role in the hiring process (are they a facilitator, key influencer or a decision maker?). There may be many phases of interviews for each company, such as an initial phone screen with an HR representative, a one-on-one in-person interview with the hiring manager (your future boss), a meeting with a panel of leaders and/or a sit-down with the team that you’ll potentially be managing. Knowing the process and the players will demonstrate your attention to detail and commitment to the organization.
There are many others, of course, but these eight tactics are among the most fundamental, tried-and-proven methods available today.
Do you know some others that have worked for you? If so, we’d love to hear about them from you. Please reply in the comments section below . . . and happy researching!