Do you have a job interview coming up that you’re nervous and excited about in equal measure? Then keep reading to find out how you can give yourself a huge advantage during the interview process. 

This goes far beyond arriving on time, dressing appropriately and being polite, which should all go without saying. Instead, this blog focuses on the importance of research before interviews and how you should do it. 

Researching employers is one of the easiest ways to stand out as a candidate during the hiring process. Even if the first time you heard of the company was the day you sent in your application, you still have ample opportunity to educate yourself about what they do, the industry they’re in and most importantly, what they look for in a new hire. 

To help you prepare for your upcoming interview, this week’s blog looks at fou things you can do to ensure you’re doing everything you can to stand out from the crowd.

1. Visit the company website

Your first step should be to go to the company website. From the early stages, it’s important to have a high-level understanding of who they are, what they do, what kind of customers they work with and how they position themselves.

During this process, you should make note of what interests you about this particular company. Whether they’re extremely mission-driven about a cause you care about, you align closely with their values or they’re a startup in a really fast-growing sector, the information on the company website will help shape your understanding of the organisation and what they look for in an employee.

Anything found here will give you a good foundation for the first interview (and any following ones) you’ll have with the company where you will inevitably be asked some version of “what do you know about us?” or “why do you want to work here?”.

2. Research recent company news

This is a relatively short but important step. When preparing for an interview as a graduate, it’s crucial to be up-to-speed on the company’s latest news. While many will either have a page on their website for recent announcements or social media pages and blogs where they provide updates, you should always look to go a layer deeper. 

As you conduct company research, use resources such as Google News so you can get a sense of what is happening at the company. These stories can include events such as opening a new office, launching a new product, recent rounds of fundraising or if they’ve acquired another business.

While there will invariably be more information available for larger companies, if you look hard enough you should still be able to find articles and stories on smaller ones as well. 

Your goal in this research, for each of your target companies, is to find something that’s happened recently that you can ask about in the interview. For example, you could ask, “I read you recently acquired a competitor, can you tell me more about that?”

Most job seekers ask boring and generic questions in interviews. So if you can ask a question about something that’s happened recently, they’ll be impressed that you’ve not only gone to the extra effort to find out what’s going on at the company but you’re curious about what the implications of it are. 

3. Familiarise yourself with your interviewers

At each stage throughout the process, you’ll know ahead of time who you’re going to be speaking with. Once you get their name, look them up on LinkedIn to get an idea of their background and previous experience.

By getting a sense of the university they went to, what they studied and their previous roles, you’ll have plenty of ammunition to connect with them by having a meaningful conversation.

Additionally, by knowing their educational background, what previous roles they’ve worked in and how long they’ve been with their current company, you’ll be able to ask great questions about their career so far. 

4. Read Employee Reviews

Who better to hear what it is like to work somewhere than people who already have? Sites like  Glassdoor are fantastic resources where you can read reviews from both current and past employees. 

These reviews will give you insights into the pros and cons of working there, how the company operates and the culture. This should not only help you prepare great answers to questions about why you want to work there, but it will also help you identify any red flags. Either way, the information will be integral when it comes to making your final decision.  

Additionally, you can also find information here including salary benchmarks, reviews of company benefits and insights into the interview process that won’t be easily found on a visit to their website.