Has anyone ever told you to ‘look before you leap?’ Well, it happens to be good advice, especially when you’re applying for jobs and internships right out of college. Going into an interview blind, without any knowledge about the company you are applying to, can seriously shatter your chances of landing that job. You want to go in knowing, at the very least, who you will be interviewing with (do some LinkedIn stalking if you have to), which department you are applying to, and what actually goes on in that department. You can’t expect to waltz in there with your head in the clouds, asking the interviewer questions that prove you have zero knowledge of what they actually do at their company. Instead, impress them with your understanding of their company’s foundation, mission, statistics, current affairs, and improvement efforts. We’re breaking down how to research a company before your interview.
Below is a list of resources that you can use to decode all of the information about the company you’re interviewing with so you can go in ready and prepared with clever AND relevant talking points:
1.) Library Databases: Most colleges and universities have great resources at the library that are free for students to use. For example, the Standard Rate & Data Service (SRDS) is a popular database for finding audience metrics, contact info, and general info on many companies you might be applying to. LexisNexis is another resource that’s home to a plethora of business news and media articles about any company in particular. Don’t forget to ask your librarians to lend you a hand with navigating these databases!
2.) Read Business Articles: Sounds boring right? Wrong. Reading business articles from publications like the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Business can actually be just as fascinating and fun as reading any other type of article. Business articles cover a variety of topics; from exciting innovations that might inspire you, to dramatic corporate changes like hostile takeovers, fierce competition, and leadership changes—these articles will keep you in the know about your dream company and its environment.
3.) Read Annual Reports: An annual report is essentially a long document that a company puts out every year that accounts for all the business they have done (Balance Sheets & Income Statements), their current affairs, and future projections of how they’ll achieve their goals. This is a bit different than reading independent business articles because annual reports are obviously biased in favor of the companies that put them together. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t skim through them. It’s possible that the media missed a few areas that the companies themselves highlight in great detail in their annual reports
4.) Do a SWOT Analysis: SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It refers to a four-paneled chart that allows you to organize these areas for a company. Most annual reports contain a SWOT analysis that you can look at and compare with the media’s version as well. The strengths and weaknesses of a company are important to know, but as an interviewee, it would behoove you to recognize the company’s threats as well. You then can emphasize how YOU can help the company overcome them while, realistically, reaching the goals they desire.
Another benefit of doing extra research into a company? You might realize that they aren’t really for you. There’s also the chance that another department might be a better fit for your skills and interests. Regardless, you will have the power to gain a solid understanding of any company through these resources and methods.
Written by Guest Blogger, Dan H. of Emerson College
How’s your job hunt going? Be sure to share your favorite tips and tricks for snagging the job with us @BNCollege.