How to Research the Hiring Company (Part II)

In Wednesday’s post, we looked at why it’s important to research the hiring company before an in-person interview, and we laid out the exact information you’re looking for. Today, we’ll wrap up the topic by covering how and where to find the information you need.

Keep in mind that not all employers have the same online presence, so some of the following four areas won’t be as applicable as others. As always, please leave any questions or tips of your own in the comments below!

The Employer’s Website

How to Research the Hiring Company

Before interviewing with ZipRecruiter, I carefully read through each page under the “Learn More” tab. My research gave me a firmer understanding of what ZipRecruiter is all about, and I used this knowledge to guide my interview conversation.

Carefully read through the employer’s homepage and its About, Products, Press, and Team pages. Here’s what you’re looking for on each page:

  • About: What is the company’s history? What are its mission, philosophy, and goals?
  • Products: What does the company do, sell, or offer? What makes it unique? Who is its target audience?
  • Press: What’s new at the company? What are its recent accomplishments and announcements? What are others saying about it?
  • Team: Who are the key players at the company? What type of culture does it have? What do you have in common with current employees?

If the company doesn’t have a website or the site is sparse, then skim through the information they do have and rely more on the next three steps.

The Company Blog

How to Research the Hiring Company

The “Behind the Scenes” and “Just for Fun” sections of the ZipRecruiter blog shed light on its culture, whereas “Updates” shows the progression of the company since its start in 2010.

65% of companies reported having a blog in 2011, so there’s a good chance your hoped-for employer does. At the same time, it’s hard to say what you’ll find. Some company blogs focus on product updates, others on company culture, and still others on industry trends.

Each type of post offers a good opportunity for you to learn what’s important to the company and its employees. For example:

  • If the company just launched a new product, ask questions about your department’s involvement (“I saw that you just released product X. As a marketing coordinator, what would my role be in promoting the product?”)
  • If the company is big into philanthropy, work your volunteer experience into the conversation.

Social Networks

91% of hiring managers screen job applicants on social networks, and there is no reason you shouldn’t do the same. Here’s what to look for on the Big 3 social networks.

  • LinkedIn: Head to the company’s LinkedIn page, scan its updates and tabs, and look for people in your network and for fellow alumni. Depending on how large the company is, you might also see news mentions and employee stats (e.g. the most common skills of current employees).

Next, search for the hiring managers, scan their credentials, and look for mutual connections and other things you have in common (e.g. you were in the same fraternity, played the same sport, are from the same state, etc).

  • Facebook & Twitter: Look at what the company posts and what others are saying about it. Note how the company interacts with its online community, and thoughtfully reply to some of its updates (who knows, the hiring manager might notice your engagement).

If the company isn’t present on Facebook or Twitter, then look for the profiles of the CEO, president, VP of your department, and other relevant employees. Twitter profiles tend to be public and, since the introduction of Facebook subscriptions, many high-profile users have begun keeping a public feed. Pay attention to what they post about the company and their industry; these tidbits show you what’s important to them and will help guide your interview discussion.

Tip: Be mindful when interacting with someone’s personal Twitter or Facebook account. You’re not trying to be buddies with this person; you’re trying to get hired by them. Keep all comments professional and avoid loaded topics like politics and religion.

Search Engines

Head to Google (or Bing or whatever you use these days) and do a few searches:

  • “Company name” (ex: “ZipRecruiter”)
  • “CEO name” AND “company name” (ex: “Ian Siegel” AND “ZipRecruiter”)
  • “Hiring manager name” AND “company name”

Google has excellent options for filtering search results, including narrowing by type (check out web, news, and videos) and by date. For the latter, click “Show search tools” in the column to the left of your search results, then look at results from the past week or month to find the most up-to-date information.

Tip: Whether in text or video form, interviews with the company CEO, president, and other high level executives provide some of the most useful information that you’ll find.

Once you complete your research, think about how you can use it during the interview. Now that you know what’s important to the company, how should you tailor your responses to common interview questions? And how can you incorporate your findings into the questions you ask the interviewer?

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