HOW TO RESEARCH
There are numerous ways to find information on a company that you're interested in. The more that you can find out, the better position you will be in when it comes to applying or to a potential interview.
Keep notes of everything you find out and type them up neatly. It can also be a good idea to take notes with you on the day of an interview and to make sure you have read all of the information at least a few times.
Where to look
- Websites provide the bulk of company information. All major and mid-level companies and the vast majority of small organisations have websites from which a whole host of information can be gleaned. If you cannot find the website for the company, ensure you are typing its full name with the correct spelling and that it is not a subsidiary of a larger company that you are applying for.
- Information on competitors can be obtained by looking at exactly what the company you are applying for does. Look at its specific field and then type this into a search engine. Be careful that they are closely related as knowledge of irrelevant competition will make you look badly prepared if brought up in an interview.
- Get a general understanding of exactly what the job you are applying for is. Look at its definitions and make sure it is exactly what you thought it was before you applied.
- Look at the products and services available from the company that you have applied for. Familiarise yourself with what they do and ensure you have an answer for exactly how you can contribute to the company goals and targets.
- Libraries can provide a good source for background research on the job, the sector and possibly the company if it’s big enough.
- It is also worth noting that, nowadays, a huge number of companies, particularly those in the media, digital and creative sectors, have social network profiles. Using sites like Twitter and Facebook to follow a company’s activity can arm you with an array of up-to-date information which won’t necessarily be found on a company website.
What to research pending a job application
Below is some job hints and advice for what you can research pending your interview.
Conducting research prior to a job interview is not only a good idea, it’s expected. Employers will look to see that a potential employee has done some background work in preparation before the interview.
Doing research when job hunting shows that you are willing, capable and generally interested in the company you are applying to work for. Comprehensive research can make you stand out from the rest of the applicants, it gives you an edge and enables you to give a far more rounded answer.
During the interview, the questions you are asked will become a lot easier to answer if you have in-depth knowledge of the company you are applying to work for. Doing research will allow you to make connections between previous employment and the new role and adapt them into interview answers.
A difficult question when applying for a marketing firm: how do you see yourself contributing to our company? With research your answer could be: “Having read your company statement I have seen how you have been focusing recently on viral campaigns. In my previous employment I headed up a small team solely dedicated to this aspect of marketing. For your company I could help directly with your new drive to go viral and increase the brand awareness through this medium.”
The main areas of research for you to conduct before sending your covering letter, CV, application or interview include:
- The size of the company and the number of employees within it
- What the company does on a day to day and long term basis (if the company has subsidiary groups be sure to research these as well)
- The main aims and goals of the company and if possible some grasp on their success within their field
- Relevant competitors to the company
- The history of the company, including how and when it was founded and who the key personnel are,
departments within the business and which particular one you feel you will be most suited to. This in turn will help you to ask more specific questions, should you have any.
If possible, find out who will be interviewing you and search for them on the company website to find out background information on their specific role.