Today’s interviewers expect you to know something about their company. It’s an indication to them that you’re interested in the position and the company. In fact, some interviewers will ask, “What do you know about our company?” If you haven’t done your research on the company, you’ve just shot yourself in the foot. On the other hand if you have, this is your invitation to showcase how your qualifications and expertise will allow you to drive and deliver on the company’s goals and objectives. So here’s a shortlist of tips:
1) Research the company’s size, industry position, market share, brand, growth rate and style, products/services, customer type(s), funding source (private equity, venture capital, or angle investors; family-owned/operated, etc.), and stability. Warning: Don’t depend on the recruiter’s information. I’ve heard too many cases where the company did not give the recruiter accurate information.
To find this information, review the company’s website, blog, press releases, podcasts, YouTube videos, white papers, and SEC reports. If you don’t find this information on the company website, you may be able to find it using these sites:
Press releases: http://www.highbeam.com/
White papers: http://whitepapers.bx.businessweek.com/
YouTube videos: http://www.youtube.com/
SEC reports: http://www.secinfo.com/
Additionally, “Follow” the company on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. More and more companies are embracing social media as part of their marketing strategy, so be sure to check all three sites.
2) Research members of the leadership team and the organizational structure of the company using your LinkedIn contacts, LinkedIn’s company search tool, or these sites: http://implu.com/; http://www.cogmap.com/.
3) Research the interviewer(s) using Google or LinkedIn. “Follow” the interviewer on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
4) Research your predecessor. Find out how long s/he was in the position, why s/he left the compny, and where s/he went.
5) Identify ways you will be able to contribute to the company. Be prepared to convey your value proposition as it applies to each specific position and company. Contact employees, vendors/suppliers, third-party consultants/advisors, and customers to gather information about problems you can solve for the company.
6) Create a customized interview portfolio that contains examples of your leadership style, contributions to previous employers (expand on bullets on your resume that align with each specific opportunity), value proposition, strategic initiatives you drove, impact you had on the company, and/or technical expertise. If you prefer an online portfolio, check out http://www.intrvue.com/html/home.php and include a link to your portfolio on your resume, cover letter, and other marketing materials.
7) Be prepared to give a presentation (Think: board presentation) on why you’re the perfect candidate, what accomplishments you can drive for the company, and what quantitative and qualitative impact you can have on the company. If you don’t have access to presentation software, you may want to check out www.wintheview.com. This is particularly effective when the interviewer doesn’t have an agenda for the interview.
8) Research the company’s culture. Speak with others who work at the company (no matter what level-shipping clerk to senior management). For example, companies owned by foreign companies may have a country-centric culture; technology companies often have a distinct culture; private equity- and venture capital-owned companies also have a unique culture. Some companies are fast-paced, innovative, ahead-of-the-curve and have a flat reporting structure while others are methodical, hierarchal, and risk adverse. Knowing this information will help you respond appropriately during your interview. You may find some help at http://www.glassdoor.com/.
9) Research salary information particularly if the company is located in a different state or region. Even if an executive search consultant has provided you with salary information, you need to research the salary range for that position in that geography so that you can negotiate the best salary for yourself. Payscale.com (http://www.payscale.com/) or Salary.com (http://www.salary.com/) can help you with this research.
10) Research the company’s benefits package. If you’re interviewing with a public company, you can find this information in their SEC filings. If it’s a private company or not-for-profit organization, you might find some information in the careers section of the company’s website. Often times the company lists their employee benefits in the position descriptions. Of course, as a senior-level executive, you can expect a more comprehensive benefits package, however this would provide you with a baseline.
While there’s no doubt, this IS a lot of work … knowledge is power … and it can set you apart from the other candidates who are being interviewed.
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