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Research the Company before Interviews

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Just as you must know yourself before you begin an interview, so too must you know your prospective employer.

Researching the company helps you tailor your responses to questions and gives you confidence. It shows the interviewer that you care about the company and want to make a well-informed decision, and it gives you fodder for posing impressive questions to the interviewer.

All of the information you gather will help you anticipate the company culture and gauge the expectations that they will have of you.

Research Company Mission

At a minimum, research the company's purpose and trajectory. Your interviewer will be convinced that you do not care much about the job, if you have to ask what the company does.

Look on the company Web site to discover how the company presents itself. Make sure you can articulate what the company's mission statement is. If the company has a tag line, memorize that too.

If available, request a copy of the company's annual report. For newsworthy companies, check media sources like newspapers and business magazines to find out where the company is going and what its challenges are.

Discover if they have any specific goals for the near future, like the production of new products or new partnerships. Talk with someone who works there or has worked there to find out whether the company fulfills its mission.

Research Company Market

If the company sells a product, who are their target customers? If the company provides a service, to whom is it rendered? What is the nature of the products or services? In addition, know the company's major competitors.

Research Company Structure

Besides identifying whether the company is small, medium, large, or enormous, also research its configuration. Is it a division of a larger company or owned by a parent company? Does it own other companies? What are its strategic alliances? Is it a local, national, or international company?

It is also useful to research at what stage of growth the company is. Have they recently grown or laid off employees? At what rate? Using your internet, media, and personal sources, uncover as much as you can about the internal workings of the company.

Research Company Financial Stability

Getting your hands on a share-holders report could be very illuminating as you determine what the company's earnings or losses are. Are their profits increasing or are they mired in debt? Is there another company funding them for a period of time at a loss?

Research Company Employee Relations and Benefits

Finally, you will benefit from knowing how the company treats its employees. Interviewing current or former employees will give you the information you need to determine whether you are likely to receive the kind of treatment you desire or require. How much of the company earnings are shared by employees? What are the salary ranges for various positions? Gaining this kind of information will help you assess a compensation packet that you can feasibly negotiate.

Don't forget to uncover the benefits package offered by the company when you consider the attractiveness of compensation. In addition to compensation, discover whether employees receive training or mentoring, how many hours a week the employees tend to work, and how long employees tend to stay at the company. Finally, you might check to see if any complaints have been filed against the company.

Research Interviewer's Background

Because it's a good idea to connect with your interviewer, it is helpful to discover as much as you can about him or her as well. Is he or she your prospective boss or someone screening applicants? If possible, discover what your interviewer is interested in and where he or she previously worked or went to college. Gather information that will help you to establish rapport.

Where to Research a Company

It's acceptable to conduct some of your company research during an interview, such as asking about benefits and your interviewer's background. But conduct the rest before you interview.

Some of these resources are mentioned above, but perhaps it's worth repeating them while including others.

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