How to research companies for interviews

Know your employer

Research employer

Want to make it to the interview process and position yourself as a stand-out candidate? Make sure you thoroughly research the potential employer.

Thanks to the internet, finding the information you need is quick and easy. This is one reason that no candidate should show up to an interview without a decent understanding of the organization. And for work in librarianship and other information services, research is a fundamental skill. Yet, we find that many candidates don’t showcase that capability during the screening and interview process.

In addition to proving your ability to take initiative, researching an employer before interviewing or submitting your resume prepares you to sell yourself and show everyone involved in the hiring process that you are interested, motivated and prepared.

An interview is a conversation with consequences

A good interview flows like a conversation, with both parties contributing and asking questions throughout. It will be easier and more natural for you to make it conversational when you’ve armed yourself with as much knowledge on the organization as you can find.

Being able to articulate how your skill set and work ethic will benefit this potential employer helps them determine whether or not you’re the best fit for the position and for the company as a whole. Understanding the role you’re interviewing for and how it contributes to the success of the organization allows you to tailor your answers and prepare specific examples that demonstrate why you’re the person they should hire. Doing research beforehand also prepares you to ask informed questions when the interviewer inevitably asks if you have any.

Familiarizing yourself with the company’s culture is equally important. LAC Group recruiters know that just because a person can do the work does not mean they’re the right person. Like people, companies have different personalities, and finding the right culture fit is essential for long-term, mutual success. Knowing the traits that an organization values will prepare you to exhibit those qualities in your resume and your interview. Moreover, it helps you to determine if this a company you want to work for.

Research checklist

Researching a potential employer

Now that we’ve covered the reasons why you should research your employer, the following is what you should know:

1. Understand what the organization does

Have a good understanding of what the employer does. Whether it’s in government, law, education or business, every entity has products or services it provides or sells, along with clients and end-users that it services. This information adds context to the job description and helps you understand how to position yourself to add value. Additionally, being prepared with this knowledge tells the hiring manager that you are invested in this position and not simply looking to get hired as quickly as possible.

Find this information on: The employer’s website, social media

2. Mission, goals and values…what drives the company?

Most employer websites have an “About us” section where you’ll likely find the company’s missions, goals and values. This not only helps you customize your resume and cover letter, it will also help you gain an advantage in the interview by showing that the company’s values align with your own. In fact, some hiring managers will ask if you know the company’s core values in the interview. Understanding the company’s missions and values can also help you answer the question of why you’re interested in this particular company rather than its competitors.

Find this information on: ‘About us’ on website, Glassdoor, social media

3. Stay informed with recent news

When you prepare for an interview, take time to get acquainted with recent news such as leadership changes, new products or services, acquisitions or trends that may affect the company’s operations. Being able to discuss the competitive landscape gives you an understanding of where the company is headed and how you fit into the bigger picture. During the interview, you can also ask deeper, more insightful questions about the company’s long-term goals and how the role will support those goals.

Find this information on: Google search, social media, press releases, news section on website

4. Discover what it’s like to work there

After doing considerable research on the company, one question candidates may neglect is asking about the work culture. Work culture can make or break a job offer, depending on the fit to your personality, work ethics and career goals. A great place to get started is on Glassdoor, which features reviews—positive and negative—submitted by current and former employees. It also offers salary ranges, interview reviews and other information to give you a picture of the workplace dynamic. Additionally, more websites are focused on recruitment branding, with employee testimonials and other information to give you a sense of what it would be like to work there. This page on the LAC Group website is one example.

If you want to go a step further, find someone who works at the company and ask them to share their personal experience by leveraging your connections on LinkedIn with current employees or those who could introduce you to an employee.

Find this information on: Glassdoor, About us on website, LinkedIn

5. Know your interviewer

For an extra way to stand out, try to find out who will be interviewing you, which is sometimes revealed in the job posting or the recruiter can tell you. Otherwise, if you can find a way to reach HR, a polite, sincere call could get you the name or at least more information. If you get the name, look up the person on LinkedIn or the company’s website. Knowing his or her professional experience or education (maybe you’ll get lucky and discover you share an alma mater or previous employer) can enhance the interview and make you more memorable. Additionally, you can personalize your cover letter to earn some brownie points and make a more positive first impression. However, don’t delve too deeply or reveal too much, as that could cross a sensitive line and work against you.

Find this information on: Leadership page on website, LinkedIn

Make employer research a priority. It will help you stand out by allowing you to highlight the qualities being sought for the position. With more knowledge about your employer, you can more effectively communicate the value you can provide, express your enthusiasm and display confidence in your fit for the position.

Katy Davis

Katy Davis

Katy is responsible for supporting LibGig's recruiting department and recruiting for library and information management positions in the legal, federal, media, corporate, and academic sectors.
Katy Davis