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There’s no great secret to performing well in a job interview – it relies heavily on employer research, preparation and good interview technique.
We’ve got you preparing your answers for some of the most common graduate job interview questions covered with our interview questions hub, but in order to succeed in a job interview, researching the employer is just as important.
So, we've put together our top tips for how to research a company for an interview, how to research a company online and how to research a role so you can successfully impress an employer with you answers.
Researching a company before your interview has a number of benefits to help you ace the interview. Interviews can be stressful and worrying, researching a company is a great way to help you feel more prepared and confident in your answers, helping you get in the write head-space for your interview.
As well as helping you to feel more prepared, it will also show that you understand the company, and that you are enthusiastic about the role. Showing you've done your research quickly shows to an employer you're serious about the role and interested in the business and what they stand for.
Researching a company and finding out their missions and company culture will also allow you to quickly see if it's a company you want to work for. It's important to interview at companies that really engage and excite you and not to accept a job at a company which doesn't fit your own requirements. This could lead to you leaving a company prematurely, so your research is crucial to working for a company that suits you.
Wondering how to research a company before applying for a job? Here are some of the key factors to find out from your research:
Now you know what you’re looking for, here’s how to research a company for a job interview:
The internet has made it easier than ever to research employers – so it’s worth taking the time to learn as much as you can about the company online.
Usually, you’ll easily be able to find out what the company does (their product or service), their history and major successes, recent news, and information about the team – try the home page, ‘About Us’ and ‘Meet The Team’ pages of the employer's website. Many company's display their mission statement here too, but if they don't, you might have to dig a little deeper!
Take note of recurring messages, themes or values that appear across the site.
Whether you notice a clear focus on company culture, or you come across lots of information on their ethical policy – these things will help to shape your understanding of the organisation, and what they look for in an employee. To get even further information about a company, including any previous company names or the CEO and Director's names, you could also use Companies House to conduct a bit of research.
It's then important to make note about what interests you in particular about this company, is it the fact they're a new start-up? Do they operate in a sector that you're really passionate about? Is there company culture on you want to work for? Think about these factors and keep them in your mind ready to discuss in your interview.
These days, the majority of companies are present on at least one social media platform -and often several. A Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram feed can give you great insight into what a company is like, as well as some of its key players.
Bear in mind that each social media platform is slightly different (you’re more likely to find information on the company’s clients on LinkedIn, and their culture on Instagram).
If you come across the company on social media while doing your research, ‘like’ or ‘follow’ their page to get updates on the latest news, and to see what they are posting or sharing. Mentioning in your interview you've seen their latest news from following them on their social media shows great initiative and can really impress an employer.
If you know who is going to be interviewing you, search their name on LinkedIn – and check their profile for information on their role, background and interests. If you come across any common interests, you can mention these in the interview to establish rapport with the employer... In this context you will not look like a social media stalker, simply a very proactive candidate!
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is polished and up-to-date before you begin following others who you want to impress. Check out our blog for 10 tips for creating a good LinkedIn profile.
Sites like Glassdoor, The Job Crowd and Crunchbase feature company profiles and reviews from previous employees, as well as business information such as investments, countries they are expanding to, and the number of employees at the company.
Researching what candidates in similar graduate jobs were asked in their interview will help you to prepare your answers – and similarly, their reviews can also give you further insight into the company culture and what to expect from their leadership.
Seeking information on the business will also give you an insight into its successes and defining moments (i.e. did the company recently receive a large amount of funding?) – which, if mentioned in your interview, will be highly impressive to the employer.
Your employer research does not stop there! Staying up to date on the organisation’s newest product or latest industry trends will not only help you to feel prepared, but can also be a great conversation starter in a graduate job interview.
Google and Google News can be a great place to access news, and doing a quick search will likely present you with information that may not appear on the company’s own website or social media profiles.
If you know that you can find news on the company in a specific location i.e. the Financial Times, TechUK or FinTech Weekly, make sure you’re up to scratch on all the latest happenings, so that you won’t be caught out if anything is mentioned in the job interview.
As well as researching the company you’re interviewing for, it’s also a good idea to look into the industry it sits within, and the organisation’s key competitors.
Carrying out competitor research will help to get you up to speed on current trends within the industry, to better understand the niche that the company fills, and what makes its product or service unique.
Once you have a good grasp of this, you’ll be able to use it to your advantage – to help yourself stand out from the crowd in your graduate job interview.
Researching the company is important, but you want to ensure all your research is going to make an impact by knowing how to best bring in your research to your answers.
You want to bring in your research when it's relevant, don't begin an interview by stating everything you know about the company, instead add in the facts you know when you're asked questions such as:
You can also bring in your research by asking the interviewer questions, such as "I understand you're currently working on x project, how is this going and will my role play a part in this?" or "I know you've recently gained X client, what kind of work will you be doing for them?".
Visit our blog for more top interview questions to ask the employer and how to answer the 'do you have any questions for me?' interview question.
Equally as important as researching a company and knowing how to research a business, is researching the role you're interviewing for. Researching the role will allow you to have a better understanding of what employers are looking for specifically and what to highlight in your interview answers to impress an employer.
If you're wondering how to impress interviewers and what things to say in an interview to impress, here's our helpful guide:
The job description is your best place to find all the key requirements, skills and tasks required of the role. Read over the description and highlight any of the most important skills employers are looking for, and bring these into your interview answers. So if an interviewer asks you questions such as "what is your understanding of the role?" you can easily comment on the day-to-day tasks of the role and what skills you'll need to demonstrate.
Check out our blog for more tips on decrypting the job description and finding out what employers are really asking for.
Another important document to look at is your CV. Read over your CV before the interview and try and match up how your education, experience and skills fit the requirements of the job and the key skills.
So when an interviewer asks you questions such as "why do you think you'd be a great fit for the role?", you can easily and confidently state how your previous skills/experience match X skill/requirment on the job description and give sound why are you the best person for the job examples.
If you're applying to a larger company, there will most likely be other employees who are in similar or the same role to the one you are applying for. It's useful to visit their profiles, see if they've shared any recent projects they're working on and what tasks they've carried out. This will help give you a feel for what the role involves and what you may be working on.
Before you go to interview for graduate jobs, it’s important to thoroughly research the company – to help yourself feel more prepared, and to indicate to the employer that you’re committed to the role, and knowledgeable about their business.