I rarely run guest posts because I don’t have time to review them.  But when Nicole Davies of ShortCourseFinder proposed the topic of researching a company, I said “yes.”  It is ESSENTIAL that you research the company for which you want to work.  Nicole goes into why and how to do this effectively.

Photo Credit: theilr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: theilr via Compfight cc

You might have a certain image of your future career in your mind. You want to be an architect, a programmer, a psychotherapist or a chef. No matter your career path, gathering information on a potential employer not only helps you choose the best option, but also significantly increases your chances of getting the job. And yet not all candidates care enough to do the research. Whether you’re fresh out of college and looking forward to launching your career or you’re an established worker interested in a career transition, researching a company before a job interview will have a huge impact on your professional success.

Why bother?

 Even before the interview, looking up the company you’re applying to work for allows you to establish whether this really is the place you’d like to work. Compare the company with other entrepreneurs in the same branch of work. Check if the pay scale is adequate, opportunities for advancement are motivating and the general policy is ethical. Maybe there are other employers that provide better conditions or work in a field that you’re more interested in?

When you finish the interview, you don’t want the interviewer to say: “They might be alright”, you want them to shout out: “They’re the one!” This is why you not only have to prove that you’re a good worker, but also that you’re an essential ingredient in their organisation. Be prepared to have the subject of workplace culture appear during your interview. You might be asked what you know about the company, why you have chosen this particular company, what kind of work environment you feel most comfortable in, if you’re a team-player or not, what you expect from your new boss and your colleagues, etc. You want to be confident when it comes to questions like these, so preparation is key.

Where to find data?

The most obvious source is the internet. Check out forums, read ex-employees opinions and go through the company’s website. Some other sites that you might find useful are Glassdoor and Vault, which provide reviews. WetFeet and Hoovers also contain basic information on companies.

People are also an important source of information. Ask around amongst your friends, family or neighbours. It’s also a good idea to use Facebook or LinkedIn to source opinions and get a feel for company culture.

Finally there is the interview itself. It exists not only for the benefit of the employer, but also for the benefit of the potential employee as well. It is important to know the right answers, but also to ask the right questions. Remember that if you are not asking questions about the company during the interview, you are missing a huge opportunity to get a feel for things. You can ask things like: are they planning to expand, what they would expect from a person on your position, what your day to day schedule would look like or anything else you may be unsure about. Prepare a list of issues you would like to talk about with the interviewer, and don’t be afraid to ask them.

Here are some examples of questions that show your enthusiasm about the position, emphasize your professional approach and grant you an opportunity to learn more about the employer:

  • What experiences and skills are you looking for in prospective employees?
  • How do you define success for this position at the company?
  • What are the major challenges of the team and would I be given a chance to solve its problems?
  • Does the company offer training opportunities?
  • Could you tell me something about this new product or service that’s making the headlines right now?

And finally:

  • What are the next steps of the hiring process?

Nowadays, conducting research about your potential employer is not optional – it is essential. So do your research to find out not only if you are right for the job, but also if the job is right for you.


Nicole Davies works at ShortCourseFinder, a website providing a simple way to find and sign up for online short courses from Australia’s top providers. Main areas of her interest are the social media and the use of new technologies in classroom.