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3 Things You Must Research Before an Interview and Where to Find Them

3 Things You Must Research Before an Interview and Where to Find Them

Have you ever been in an interview and realized you know little about the company? That’s why it’s important to do intentional research before your interview! You’ll want to have as much knowledge about the company, its mission and its values, so you feel as confident as possible in the interview. In order to find ways you believe you could contribute to the company, you need to know what they do and what you can bring to the table. Ready to get started? Here are the 3 things you need to research and where you can find them:

Leadership

A great way to find out how a company or team works together is by learning about the leadership team. You want to understand the basics like names, job titles, and where they worked before. You’ll also want to check their career track—especially for team leaders. This can give insight into how they’ll run the team. For instance, if you have a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) who came from a business background, they may focus on Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) vs. a former engineer having an engineering first mindset where they focus on delivering quality product before it heads to market. Knowing some of leadership’s history can give you a hint about how the company may operate.

Mission Statement

A company’s mission statement is their direct commentary to the public about who they are and what they stand for. It is a key part of their website and one you shouldn’t skip. In a company’s mission statement, you can learn about what matters most to them and how they intend to serve their customers. You can learn what attributes are most important to them (i.e., respect, ethics, integrity, etc.), and decide if those align with your own.

Along with mission statements, most companies share their top commitments. These are often a response to important topics like diversity and inclusion (DEI), or environmental impact. They are often a promise about the quality of their products and services, and a snapshot of their values as a company. If you’re specifically looking for a DEI-focused company, this is a good indicator of their initiatives. Note anything you want to discuss further during your interview when the opportunity arises.

Industry and Competition

If you’re new to the industry, you’ll want to research direct competitors of the company. What does the industry look like and how does this company fit into it? You can even make notes about potential spaces the company could move into if you notice them. Knowing who the company competes with will help if it ends up being an interview question.

You should also look up current and forecasted trends. You need to know where the industry or technical trends are heading so you can explain the abilities you have that would help the company achieve its goals. For instance, if the company is ready to move from traditional applications to the cloud, which of your skills could contribute to this? Are they changing their development methodology to a version of Agile (Scrum, SAFE, etc.) approach? If so, what experience do you have with it? Come prepared with a few actionable suggestions from prior experience where you can add value to the organization.

Where to Look

Now you know what to look for, but where do you find reliable information? First, check the company’s website and social media channels. Review and understand recent posts and make notes on anything that stood out to you. For the latest news or updates, search Google News. Search on their clients, industry history, recent product launches, and even awards they’ve won! Use LinkedIn to find current and past employees, the company’s profile, and their competitors (scroll down to the “Other Companies People Have Viewed” section).

If you’re specifically looking for information from people that have previously worked for the company, check-in with your network.  Are you connected to former employees? If so, ask if they’d be willing to discuss their experience with you. You can ask about managers they worked with, the team atmosphere and work pace, their favorite (or least favorite) aspects of working there. If not, look into networking groups or job-specific forums like the GitHub Community Forum or the Microsoft C# forum. Reddit is also a wealth of information. Stick to specific sub-Reddits like software-based r/JavaScript or local industry-specific r/PDXTech to maximize your chances of finding the right information. You can also use Glassdoor or Comparably to see interview questions and reviews from current and former employees. However, be mindful when reviewing these as negative reviews can sometimes overshadow positive ones.

Once you’ve done the research, be sure you’re well-prepared to use it during your interview. Talk about projects you’ve heard about, products they’re making, and initiatives they’re spearheading. Then, correlate them to your interests or career track. This shows the hiring manager that you’ve taken the time to learn about their business and think about how well you’ll fit in.

Get tactical about your interview prep and practice these common but tough open-ended questions.

Andrew Elder

Andrew Elder

Lead Technical Recruiter