Researching a potential employer is crucial in any job interview as it enables you to talk compellingly about their business and what skills and knowledge you can bring to the table.
By knowing what products/services the business sells, the market it trades in and having an idea of its overall strategy, you're already demonstrating that you're interested in the job and have a willingness to learn.
‘It is important to know the company culture, key products and services, demographic, unique selling points and competitors,’ says Marcus Johnson, operating director at Michael Page Finance.
‘Make an effort to look through the company's website, news websites and corporate literature, as well as seeking out your interviewers on LinkedIn to ensure you have a perfectly clear idea of what you are interviewing for and who you are interviewing with.’
With the information from your research you are able to tailor your application to specific jobs and succinctly outline how your skills and experience meet the needs of a particular position and organization, and this will always help you to stand out.
Before any interview you should make sure you know all about the employer and any recent press announcements. The knowledge you gain will help you to ask thoughtful questions and speak about the organization, which shows your general interest and that you are keen about the job. Research allows you to gain insight into an organisation’s values, what they do and how your skills and experience might be valuable to the business.
Karen Young, director at Hays Accountancy & Finance, says: ‘A good starting point is checking the organisation’s website, which will provide a lot of the material you need. Recent articles about projects and contracts or announcements can usually be found here, as well as all the latest financial reports.
‘Usually you will find a careers section, which highlights opportunities within the organisation, and will often include a few testimonials from employees about what it’s like working there and the career paths available.’
As well as researching a potential employer and being confident enough to show that you have a full understanding of the wider business landscape, you should also research what is going on in the industry as a whole and be aware of who the employer’s main competitors are.
Know how they are owned – is it private ownership, are they backed by private equity or venture capital? What impact is this likely to have in terms of a job role with them? If they are listed on FTSE or AIM then make sure you are up to date with current share price and price movements – it pays dividends to be ahead of the game. Demonstrating commercial nous and integrity is only going to help make you stand out.
‘Researching any firm before committing to joining it is absolutely critical and not doing so means you’re essentially going in blind and unaware of what it’s really like to work there,’ says Joss Collins, a financial services specialist recruiter at Venn Group.
‘The worst-case scenario is that the reality is a long way off what you were promised by the interviewer and that you simply don’t “fit” within the organisation, which would mean continuing with a role you’re not suited to until you find a replacement.’
Phil Sheridan, UK managing director at Robert Half, adds: ‘Candidates who do their due diligence and take the time to research a potential employer will be able to better assess how to position themselves on their application – and in the interview. Gathering information about the company you want to work for can also help you to decide if the company culture, organisations goals and values are aligned with your own.’