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Interview Research - How Much Is Too Much?

23/10/2019 By Lily Senior

One of the most common interview questions is “So what do you know about our company”? if you haven’t done your homework, this question can strike fear into your heart. It’s not the best start to an interview to admit that actually you don’t know much other than how to get to the offices. But just how much preparation should you do for your interview?

News and Recent Events

Interviewers will expect candidates to be up to speed with the most recent news stories involving the organisation, whether that be a new product announcement, a change in managing director or a move into a new marketplace. This sort of information is really easy to find online. Filter your search results to focus on the last quarter for larger companies, the last year for smaller companies where there is less information. Try to focus on positive news rather than any negative stories you find online about the company and its employees. A good place to start is the press release or news section on the company’s own website.

Mission, Culture and Values

An interview is as much about assessing whether you are a good fit for the company in terms of personality as about whether you have the skills and experience needed. Most larger companies will have information on their website about their ethos and their values. If you know in advance what sort of personal qualities a company is looking for, you have time to think about the experience you have which can demonstrate those elements. Following a company on social media can also give an insight into a company’s “personality”.

Key Players

You’re not going to be expected to be able to recite the CVs of all the Board Members. Indeed, knowing too much about the senior management because you’re been stalking them on social media might come across as a bit weird. But if you’re applying for a job in payroll, you should really know who the HR director is. A larger company will have short biographies of key members of staff on their website.

Clients and Products

As a bare minimum, you should know what sort of products or services the company makes, and who their largest clients are. Don’t expect to be able to find sales figures or a detailed breakdown of finances as this is likely to be confidential. Most companies will publish case studies or issue press releases about projects they have been involved in to help with your research. Twitter can also be a good source of information about a company’s main focus at present.

Review Sites

Although it’s probably not something you’ll want to bring up at interview, sites like Glassdoor can give you the inside scoop on what it’s like to work at a company. Employees post details of their salaries and benefits which can be a useful benchmark when negotiating your own package. Reviews sites are often skewed towards the disgruntled employees though, so take everything you read with a pinch of salt.

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