The 5 Most Overlooked Job Interview Research Methods

Job Interview ResearchI love getting a phone call like the one I just had… a client called to say he had accepted a job offer!

We rewrote his resume and cover letter to accommodate the industry switch he wanted to make (even though he was only out of college a couple of years).

We thoroughly prepped for the interview process; focusing on research of the employer:

  • He dug into their web site
  • Checked out the interviewers on LinkedIn
  • Scanned the media for information on competitors in the area
  • Got a good sense of their business model and mission
  • Connected with a recruiter who happened to recruit in that market and had some inside scoop on the organization

He blew them away in the interview! Now, during his first few weeks on the job, he wants to “crush it” so he can continue to grow and advance in this new industry. A-mah-zing story!

They Can Tell, You Know

When I was recruiting, my team and I could always tell when someone had done their homework on the company or not.

If they didn’t do the research, they were out.

In retrospect, it’s regrettable we even had to waste an interview on someone who didn’t investigate us and our mission thoroughly. Unfortunately, testing for whether or not you did employer research is not a significant part of the screening process (maybe, someday, employers will catch on and start qualifying candidates BEFORE they offer them an interview… but I digress)

The point is: digging in and researching an employer better than the other candidates gives you a huge competitive advantage in an interview. It’s such an easy way to make inroads yet so many people go into interview unprepared. “Hoping for the best” is not a rational interview strategy.

There’s no excuse for not showing up prepared to talk about the organization you’re interviewing with, their key team members, the competition, their competitive advantage, and the biggest problems you are going to help them solve in your new role.

Research the High Tech Way

A couple of Stanford Grads felt so strongly about researching potential employers, they took it a step further and created LifeSwap. This tool matches job seekers with potential employees so that the jobseeker can get a glimpse of what it’s really like to work inside that company. Talk about your first hand company research! And, a win for both the organization and the potential employee as well.

Create Your Advantage | 5 Unique Employer Research Methods

If that inspires you to go “above and beyond” in your potential employer research, here are five ideas that take your basic research to a new level (one that very few candidates will reach!)

  1. Look for organization executives on LinkedIn; see if they have any media like company videos, slide decks, or other messages included on their profiles that can provide a deeper level of information
  2. Talk to a customer of the organization; ask them what works well, and what they see as opportunities for improvement
  3. Talk to a competitor of the organization; ask what they see as their competition’s strengths and weaknesses
  4. Engage in a transaction with the organization; if they have a product that’s affordable, buy it and then call customer care and see what kind of response they provide (this will tell you a lot about the organization’s culture and practices)
  5. Compliment or acknowledge the company on social media, and see how they respond; see how they deal with the public in public

These overlooked research methods will give you a deeper level of information. They will  ensure you have an engaging conversation during your interview. They will set you apart from your competition.

And YOU will have a much better idea if that organization is for you.

Try one of these research methods on a target employer… and let us know how it helps prepare you better and takes your pre-interview confidence to a whole new level.





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Degrees of Transition!



LeaAbout the Author: Lea McLeod helps recent grads and mid-careerists navigate the job search. And once you have a job, she’ll coach you to the brilliant performance of which you are capable! Her “Developing Patterns of Success” Workshop has been deployed to help thousands of college hires worldwide do just that. She blogs at Follow her on Facebook, and Twitter, too.



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