Don't Let Your Dog Eat Your Homework Print
Written by Abby Kohut   

Although you may believe right now that any job will do, I am here to tell you that thinking that way may lead to more trouble for you than you deserve. The last thing that you want to be doing a year from now is searching for a job because you made a hasty decision without doing your homework. To avoid these missteps, pretend you are a journalist writing an article about the company you will be interviewing with. Do the research beforehand and then ask questions during the interview to complete the story.

In the days of yore, we learned about companies from the library, the newspaper or from their annual report. Then Al Gore "invented" the Internet (just kidding) and the world was rich with vast amounts of information to be devoured. What a HUGE benefit that you need to take advantage of.

These are the top 7 things to research about a company as you prepare for your interview:

  1. Review the company's website from head to toe at a basic level.
  2. Look at their press release section – read the most current ones and any others that can help you learn about the health of the company. Prepare some questions about the things that you learn.
  3. Look at their benefits section – if the topic comes up during the interview you'll be able to ask more detailed questions rather than just "Do you offer tuition reimbursement?"
  4. If the company is a public company, look at the stock price and notice whether it is trending up or down. Ask questions about what you discover during the interview.
  5. Look at the career page if there is one. Notice the number of open jobs, the types of jobs and the levels. This may tell you the story about the company's turnover.
  6. Search on Google News to find recent articles about the company and ask about them during the interview.
  7. Search for your interviewer on Google and LinkedIn. Learn about their background, where they graduated from, what their hobbies are, etc. See if you have anything in common that can help you develop rapport.

If you have done all of this homework, I can guarantee that you will develop more intelligent questions than "What is the dress code?" or "What are the core hours?" or "How many vacation days do I get?" Good questions show your interviewer that you are carefully considering their job and not simply shopping for the best compensation package.

Here are some questions you might ask based on your research:

  1. What are the company's strengths and weaknesses compared to its competition?
  2. How important does upper management consider the function of this department/position?
  3. What is the organization's plan for the next five years, and how does this department fit in?
Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
Doing your homework before an interview is an essential part of your success. Knowing detailed information about the company will not only help you ask the right questions, but it will also help you understand if this is the ideal company for you to spend the next five years with. Most importantly, showing that you have done you homework demonstrates that you are truly interested in the company and it's products, which ultimately will help you land yourself a new job.