10 Jan

What You Should Already Know about the Company before Your Interview

Posted by John Brandwagt

Some people think an interview is an appropriate time to ask questions about the company they’ve applied to work for. You should probably do some research before your interview.

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Hiring managers prefer to talk more about the role and your skills than company history. In fact, most expect you’ll have already done some research and have some background knowledge before the interview. If you haven’t, you may look ill-prepared or give the impression you don’t care.

Here are a few things you should know about the company you’ve applied to before you walk in for your interview.


A Little History

You probably don’t need to dig deep into the history of the company, but you should know some of the basics. When was the company founded? Where? Who founded it?

You may also discover how the company has changed over the years. A merger may have pushed the business in a new direction. The vision of the future, the mission statement, and the goals for the future may all have changed.

It’s unlikely you’ll need to know the street location of the company’s original building for your interview, but know if they have one or multiple locations, and where.


The Interviewer

Take a moment to research the person conducting your interview. Most companies give the names of the people you’ll be interviewed by prior to the meeting, so put the information to good use.

You don’t need to delve into elaborate histories here either. Take a look at LinkedIn profiles or biographies posted to the company’s website. You want to know how long this person has worked in the field and with this company, and what their responsibilities are.

Why do you want to know? It can make talking to your interviewers a little less daunting. Asking the interviewer about themselves is a great way to learn about them, their roles, and even about the company and the corporate culture too.


The Company’s Values

In addition to company history, many businesses’ websites have statements about company culture. This can include sections like “our mission” or “our beliefs.” The website may include information about company goals or a vision of the future. Corporate responsibility may include a company’s efforts on reducing environmental impact, working with communities and volunteerism, and prioritizing safety.

Take a look at the “our people” section if there is one. Some companies will profile key employees. Others may list everyone on staff (especially if the company is small and close-knit).

Information about the benefits of working there may also be posted. This provides key insight into the company’s values and ethics. How people are treated by a company can be very telling when it comes to discovering corporate culture.


Recent News

Has this company been in the news lately? If so, you should probably know about it. A major merger or acquisition could signal a bumpy transition ahead. It can also herald exciting new opportunities.

You should be armed with this information, although you may not bring it up in the interview. Negative stories are best avoided but you do want to know if the company is currently under scrutiny or involved in a scandal. A local news story about the company’s annual holiday food drive, however, is a great way to talk about corporate values and ethics.


The Role Itself

Take a look at the job description again. Conduct research about the job title and salary. You may come up with reviews from former employees on sites like Glassdoor. While you need to be careful about letting negative information colour your expectations, you may be able to glean more information about what’s expected in this role.

Arm yourself with the power of knowledge and truly impress your interviewer. Knowing something about the company will make you a stand-out candidate.


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Topics: IT Jobs

John Brandwagt

John is a Practice Leader at Inteqna. He’s been working in IT Search in Calgary since 1997. He works best with selective job seekers—those who excel at what they do and enjoy their current jobs. Since they don’t have time to look for themselves, he helps them find their dream jobs. From a client perspective, he helps organizations find the talent that will propel their business. John is involved in several of Calgary’s technical user groups and has held board roles in non-profit groups. He is a single dad of four boys who try to beat him at every physical activity from hiking to rugby.

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