How to Research a Potential Employer
When getting ready for an interview, it’s important to walk in knowing something about the hiring manager with whom you’ll speak. Just as important? Being knowledgeable about the company itself. While a cursory Google glance is better than nothing, there are many other avenues you should investigate when researching a potential employer.
The company’s website
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. The first and easiest step to take is checking out the company’s actual website. Granted, this only gives you the rosiest possible look at your potential employer, but that’s OK—for now. Check out their statements on things like workplace culture, diversity, their leadership team, potential benefits, and recent annual reports. If you read between the lines, you can oftentimes tell if they are walking the walk when it comes to making the office an enjoyable place to work—or if they’re just saying what people want to hear.
In the news
The next step is to search out any news coverage that involves the company. Whether it’s good, bad, or ugly, chances are you’ll easily be able to find what you need. If the company is too small to make waves in the national news, check out local online newspapers where they’re based. Maybe they’re in trouble financially. Maybe they’re beloved by the community for all the money they donate and volunteerism encourage. Whatever it is, seeing how the company is portrayed in the media can go a long way toward helping you determine what kind of workplace it will be.
Whether you love it or hate it, social media (in one form or another) can be a valuable research tool. Use it to your advantage! Check out the company’s LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. to find out what kind of presence they have. Go one step further, and if you know the person (or people) who will be interviewing you, check out their social media profiles too. You can often get a good idea of their individual career trajectories, especially through the more professional social media accounts.
If you already know someone who works at the company you’re considering, you have an easy “in” in terms of asking them what it’s like to work there. Voice specific concerns if you have them, and ask questions about issues that matter the most to you: Vacation time? Frequency of raises? Flexible schedule? Even if you don’t know someone who currently works at the company, don’t fret—that’s another way social media comes in handy. Don’t be afraid to reach out via professional social media pages (aka: not their personal Facebook or Instagram account) to ask an employee about their experiences. Just keep it professional, and only ask once. If you don’t get a response, move on.
While it’s extremely important to know about the company with which you’ll have your interview, it’s even better when you know about the industry. This requires checking out the company’s rivals and sizing them up compared to the competition. Doing so allows you to find out what’s the norm in the industry: How much PTO is typical? How many clients are on board? Not only that, but you’ll also find out information about industry trends or any big mergers that are in the works—all of which will help you have knowledgeable, clear discussions with your potential employer during the interview process.
Properly researching a potential employer helps you avoid the trap of accepting a job with a toxic office culture or that otherwise doesn’t fit your needs. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to find out all you want to know about a place before deciding to take the plunge. Make good use of those tools and you can enter your interview with eyes wide open.