Top 6 Strategies on How to Research a Company for a Job Interview

The hiring process has become more in depth and more tedious than ever.  As a potential hire, you are expected to know the basic principles of the company’s business and the company’s vision, mission, and values.

The more you research the company the better your chances of interview success.

The research process shouldn’t only be about finding out what the employer wants, it should also be about what you want.  By doing your research on potential companies, you will start to see what it is you really want in a job or career.  Maybe you’ll find out that work-life balance is really important to you.  Well, through your research you can get an idea if the companies you are interested in value those types of things.

Maybe a company you thought was the perfect fit for you turns out to have a really demanding work schedule.  They may expect employees to start early and leave late.  Perhaps the work environment is competitive and results orientated, meaning that you need to put in a lot of extra time to gain an edge.  This company would not fit very well with your work-life balance goals.

This is something that can be found when you do your research on potential companies.  This will help you focus on the company that truly does fit you, your personality, and goals.  By matching yourself properly with the right company, you will make it easier on yourself to progress through your career and achieve your goals the way you want to achieve them.

So how do you begin researching a company?  Thanks to the internet, it has become easier than ever to do research on companies.  Most companies now have a website with lots of good information.  There are also public documents that can be attained through the internet made specifically to get an inside look to the company you are interested in.

I will be going through my top 6 sources for finding great information on companies and finding out if your are the right fit for their culture.

I will be using an example throughout the whole process.  This will help you see what information you need to look out for.  The company I will be using is Bank of Montreal (since many of you might be business or finance students, I thought it would make for a great example).

I will begin with the most obvious research resource…

#1. Company Website

The very first place you should look is the company’s website.   Just about every company has a website these days, and if they are a relatively big company, they probably have information for new hires.

You want to take a look at their vision, mission, and values.  You also want to browse around and get a sense of what they sell or what they do.  Find out what some of the positions are.  They may even have some videos or letters from employees that tell you what it is like to work for the company.

From the BMO website I found:

There is a tab on the main page that says “About BMO”.  So I clicked on that.  Here I get 4 sub-categories: 1) Career Opportunities (that’s useful), 2) Investor Relations (we’ll need this later), 3) Our Vision and Values (BINGO!), and 4) Contact Us.  So I clicked on “Our Vision and Values” to get more information.  This is what I got:

Vision: To be the bank that defines great customer experience.

Values: 1) Take Pride in what we do and where we work. 2) Keep Your Word never waver from our commitments to our customers and each other. 3) Embrace Diversity gain strength through our people and our perspectives. 4) Do the Right Thing demonstrate respect for all and earn trust through integrity of our actions. 5) Have Courage to Win focus on what makes us successful.

There was also information on their “Code of Conduct”, which will have a lot of information on how they handle issues in the workplace, and their “Corporate Sustainability Governance”.

Okay, we got some good information there… what else can we find?  With very little searching, I came across a link called “Employment Equity Narrative Report”.  I clicked on the link and… WOW a ton of great information!

This is a document that shows promotions across the different levels of the organization, career development and training provided for employees, information on the recruitment process, where they target hiring campaigns, more information on their values, and a bunch more useful stuff.  I bet if you just read this one document you would have a lot more knowledge than the average candidate.  But we don’t want to know more than the average candidate; we want to know more than the majority of candidates.  So let’s continue our search.

#2. Annual Reports

If the company you are interested in is a public company, you have a terrific resource at your fingertips.  The annual report gives detailed information on the company’s goals, values, strategy, and performance.  You can also get information on their financials and operating history.  Needless to say it is a plethora of useful information on a company.

You can find reports easy enough through online resources such as SEDAR, but I like to take an even simpler route.  Most public companies have an “Investor Relations” section on their website that has links to all the documents you need.

Remember when we clicked on “About BMO” and we came across an investor relations link?  Well let’s go check it out!

Yeah, this link has a lot of great information.   Just listen to some of the links that are listed on the left column: Who We Are, Financial Information, Annual Reports (hey we need that!), Videos, FAQs, News Releases.  This is all good information that will give you a peak into the company and give you an idea if you would fit.

I took a quick look at the 2011 annual report and found some good points of interest.  There’s a section on their strategy, a 5-year review of key figures, and other useful sections.  But the one area you need to take a look at is the MD&A or Management Discussion and Analysis.

In the MD&A you will find all the issues, risks, potential growth, strategies, and tons of other information that management for the company is currently interested in.  So give it a read and get yourself familiar with issues surrounding the company.

#3 LinkedIn (or Social Media)

When I first heard this advice I sort of rolled my eyes.  I thought that social media was for fun; it was a place to post pictures and start conversations with friends.  But the last part is exactly why it is a great tool to find out more about a company.

LinkedIn is a great tool to connect with professionals in your field.  Chances are that someone in your extended network works for the company you are interested in.  What I suggest doing is sending a message that explains that you are interested in the company and would like to know what it is like working there.  You could even set up a face-to-face meeting with the person.

Reach out to those people in your network.  After all, the work place is all about connections and networking.  By showing that you are already networking with employees from the company it only help in your search for a job!

#4.  GlassDooor.com

This website is awesome!  It gives you so much information about companies.  The information provided includes things like basic info on the company, awards given to the company, ranking of CEOs and other management, salary ranges for the different positions, and recent news concerning the company.  But one of the greatest features this site offers is interview details and ratings from people who have gone through the company.  What more could you ask!

Looking quickly at the BMO profile I see that they have won a Top 100 company Award, the CEO has an average rating of 3.2, there is salary information on 112 job titles, and some great reviews on working at BMO and a bunch of interview information from people who have gone through the process.

One thing about the site though, is that you have to sign up to get full access.  But it’s free and you can use Facebook to sign in.  Just a warning though, you will get emails sent to your inbox every week.  But it usually has job postings and information that is useful.

#5. PayScale.com

This site basically gives you information about average pay for certain jobs.  But you have the option to filter it in a lot of different ways.

You can filter by job, company, years experience, city, certification, and many others.  You can also get information on other benefits such as vacation time and bonuses.

This is a great tool to see if a job matches your expectations for salary.  It will also give you confidence when an interviewer asks you how much you are expected to be paid.  You will have a well researched and realistic range to base your amount on.

As an example with BMO, let’s say I am a new graduate with less than a year of experience.  I am looking for an entry level position and would like to make somewhere between $30,000 and $45,000 in my first year with the company.

I see that a “Financial Service Manager” makes on average between $34,000 and $52,000.  I see the average vacation is just under 3 weeks and the average bonus is just over $2500.  Looks like I may have a good match for a career starter!

#6.  Information Interview

This is one resource I have personally never used.  Actually, I only heard about it a couple months ago when my fiancé informed me about it.

An information interview is basically a meeting with human resources which gives you details on the job and what is expected of the job.  It is a great time to ask the company any questions you may have.  You can also get a good idea if you are a good fit with the company because chances are you will be given a tour of the company and you will meet some other employees.

It can also lead to job opportunities.  My fiancé’s last work place had someone come in for an information interview and ended up hiring her because they needed someone and didn’t have time to post an ad for the position.  It really can’t hurt to get out there and be seen by employers!

So there are my tips to help you research for potential employers.  You might not have to use all 6 resources to get the information you need, but for a job interview or career decision, you can never have too much information.

I hope this helps you in your journey and helps you find a great company that matches your personality and values.

Thanks for reading and good luck out there!

How do you research a company?  Do you have other great resources that I forgot to mention?  Have any of these methods worked for your job search?  Leave a comment below and share your experiences or thoughts!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: