How to Research a Company Before an Interview

research a company

You got the interview! Now it’s time to shine. Check out these tips on how to research a company before a telecommute job interview so you can make an outstanding impression.

How to Research a Company Before an Interview

Congratulations on landing an interview! You’re one of the few who made it past the first round in the hiring process. According to Glassdoor, recruiters and employers receive about 250 resumés for each job they post. However, only about two percent of applicants receive an interview invitation. Feel proud that your application impressed the recruiter.

To seal the deal, you need to learn more about the company and identify what the organization seeks in an employee. You don’t want to fabricate a personality or mold yourself into someone you’re not, but you do want to evaluate whether the company aligns with your career path.

After your research, if all looks good and you believe you’d enjoy working for the organization, take advantage of your new knowledge to show the interviewer that you’re on board. Here are some ways you can research a company before an interview and increase your chances of landing the job.

Scrutinize the Company’s Job Posting

Virtual Vocations offers a free remote job database, where you can look up current remote positions and telecommute-friendly companies that are hiring. Use the filters to search for jobs related to your education, career level, and skills. When you find a good match, read through the job description in detail and click on the company profile link for overview information and more remote vacancies.

When scrutinizing a job post, notice whether the tone is friendly or formal. Does the description contain casual phrases like, ‘we like to work hard and play harder’? Or does it contain more business-like language such as, ‘we seek experienced professionals who adhere to regulations’? Based on the tone of the post, you can get an idea of how the staff communicates and whether you need to be super formal or business casual during the interview.

Also, pay attention to the organization of the post, as well as the grammar, punctuation, and thoroughness, which can give you clues as to how detail-oriented the company is and how much they value accuracy.

Finally, asses the post for its depiction of the position and what the company expects. Evaluate the post for reasonableness and specific duties and responsibilities. Such information can help you devise questions and demonstrate ways you can meet the company’s expectations. BambooHR emphasizes the importance of accurate job descriptions and provides employer best practices that you can use as a baseline during your evaluation.

Pro Tips:

  • Gather keywords from the job description but use them sparingly to avoid speaking meaningless, jargon-filled statements.
  • Brush up on industry knowledge, best practices, and trends related to the job requirements.
  • Prepare example scripts that explain your ability to fulfill each requirement. Whenever the interviewer asks you a question, leverage the job description to tie your experience to the company’s expectations.

Related: 12 Questions to Ask Employers During Virtual Interviews

Review the Company’s Website

The easiest way to learn about a company is to visit the website. While browsing, pay close attention to the following pages (note that page titles may vary):

  • About: Research the company’s values, mission statements, business objectives, and corporate responsibility strategy. If applicable, review the company’s history, locations, and leadership team profiles. (It’s always good to know the name of the CEO or President of the company.)
  • Careers: Look for information about inclusion, professional development, flexible schedules, or whatever is important to you. Read through any employee testimonials and profiles to get a sense for the personality type the company attracts and how employees typically communicate.
  • Products and Services: Scroll through the company’s products and services lists to learn what the company offers. Also, examine how the company markets its goods to get an idea of the target customer and how the company wants to be perceived.

Keep in mind, a website gives you general information about the company’s mission, products, and branding. It doesn’t tell you what daily life is like for your position or the internal structure of the departments and teams. You need to ask the interviewer for an example of a typical day to assess the workflow and operation.

Pro Tips:

  • Everyone loves a compliment, so look for company accomplishments or awards and acknowledge these achievements during the interview.
  • Gather interesting facts about the company and sprinkle them throughout your conversation to demonstrate that you’ve done your research.
  • Use the website content to think up questions for the interviewer that show your interest in the company’s processes and growth.

Scroll Through the Company’s Social Media

Businesses use social media to reinforce their brands and interact with the public. Therefore, turn to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds to gauge the company’s communication style, current news and events, and who the company associates with (based on the company’s shares, likes, and social media network). Use social media posts as talking points and ask questions about upcoming events and products.

Feel free to follow a feed and interact with a post or two to show interest and engagement. However, avoid going overboard by liking and sharing dozens of posts. Also, it’s poor taste to post anything related to your job interview on your personal pages or the company’s feeds. Keep your social media interactions just as professional as you would for phone and in-person conversations.

Pro Tips:

  • Though social media helps preserve the past, the present and future are where you, as a candidate, can add value and impact an organization. So, show your enthusiasm for the company’s direction and inquire about what’s coming next.
  • If you choose to follow or interact with a business’ social media feed, make sure your profile and pages represent you well. It’s likely that the interviewers already reviewed your LinkedIn and public profiles, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check your privacy settings, photos, and posts.
  • If possible, look up your interviewers on LinkedIn to learn more about their roles and history with the company. You can even look for common ground to create casual talking points and build rapport.

Related: How Important Is Social Media for Getting a Job?

Sample the Company’s Products or Services

If possible, demo the company’s products and services to see how they handle customer service, online interaction, and whether you actually like and believe in what the company offers. For example, if you’re interviewing with an information technology company, download a free trial of the software and play around with the features. If it’s not possible to demo or sample anything, read through related documentation, such as user guides, data sheets, and case studies so you’re at least familiar with the purpose and function of major products.

The more you already know about a company, the less work the interviewer has to do. So, the interviewer will likely be impressed and grateful that you already did the heavy lifting. Plus, you free up time to talk about other topics specifically related to your potential role.

Pro Tips:

  • Being a user of a product shows that you’re already dedicated to the company. It also shows that you understand the purpose of the product and have a glimpse of the company’s big-picture strategy.
  • Relate your skills directly to the company’s products and services to show that you can hit the ground running upon hire.

Read Company News

Look up news articles and press releases to see how others talk about the company and how organizational leaders talk about the future. Look for quotes from executives for insight into the company’s values and direction. Also, read through criticism and complaints to assess the full spectrum of people’s perceptions.

You may think you should avoid mentioning any negative press during the interview. However, Business Insider urges jobseekers to consider professionally addressing public criticism as a way to impress the interviewer and engage in meaningful conversation. Additionally, inquiring about negative information is helpful for you to evaluate the job as a great opportunity or a potential train wreck.

Pro Tips:

  • Leverage news articles and press releases to show how your skills, interests, and experience align with the company’s mission.
  • If you uncover negative information, consider crafting questions that address your concerns without attacking the company or its leadership. Expressing concern regarding the public’s perception of the organization and any known instability is valid and might even earn you brownie points, especially if you can counter the criticism with solution-oriented thinking.

More Ways to Investigate a Company

Need more input? Here are additional ways you can research a company before an interview:

  • Watch presentations from conferences, interviews with employees and leadership, and product demonstrations. You’ll learn more about how the company positions itself, and you’ll get to know a few individuals who the company appoints as public representatives.
  • Read through any annual or quarterly reports to gauge the company’s financial and market position. (This is especially useful for executive roles). For example, you can assess whether a company has consistent growth over the past few years and whether they seem stable enough to provide continued employment.
  • Identify direct competitors and how the company differentiates itself. Look for unique characteristics, communication styles, and features. Use this information to show that you understand the company’s strengths and how you can help continue their legacy.
  • Look up customer and employee reviews for common complaints and accolades. Take reviews with a grain of salt, of course, but use them to assess the company’s strengths and weaknesses and show how you can fill known gaps and support what the company already does well.

How to Leverage Virtual Vocations Before an Interview

Take full advantage of your Virtual Vocations membership during every step of your job search. Before an interview, go back to the telecommute job database and read through the job description thoroughly. You can also search for similar occupations and posts to see what other companies require. Then, click on the company link within the post to review the company overview, facts about the company’s remote jobs, and additional related information. Next, click on links to the company website, wiki page, and Better Business Bureau (BBB) page, as applicable.

Finally, check out our blog section related to telecommute job interviews for tips on how to communicate and impress employers.

As always, tell us about your experience! Let us know how your job search and interview process went. We love hearing stories of success, as well as pain points, from our members so that we can continuously support you throughout your telecommute career.

Do you have additional tips on how to research a company ahead of a job interviewConnect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn to tell us your advice or share your own job interview experiences. 

Photo Credit: iStock.com/PeopleImages


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