The organisation’s website should be your first port of call. It’s a treasure trove of information on what a company wants its customers to know, offering valuable information about the company’s aims and objectives, what it hopes to achieve, and how. Make a note of what you read, what’s the tone? What images have been chosen – modern, creative, fun, or perhaps more corporate? Tailor your approach with this is mind; is formality key or would something a little bit more creative be well-received?
Key considerations: Relevant pages - About Us, What We Do, Staff, News
2. Social media channels
Remember that the company’s choice of social media channels may be extensive or be focused entirely on one platform, commonly Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube... What does the company post/share? Are there any clear influencers, clients, partners, or competitors? Does the company interact with certain accounts frequently? As well as gathering information, this gives you the opportunity to get to know the organisation’s ‘personality’.
Key considerations: How has the company summarised itself? Click to like or follow
3. Recent news stories
A lot of companies have a news section on the website, but make sure to head to a search engine and look for any recent media coverage. What is the media saying about the organisation? Make a note of recent developments, including new products, services, recent appointments, and any charity or community work it’s been involved in. These are great talking points and enable you to ask engaging questions when the interviewer asks if there’s anything else you’d like to know. You might also find some sensitive issues you can then avoid talking about.
Key considerations: What does the company value? How does it operate? How does this match with your own preferences/priorities?
To take your research a little further, extend it to the company’s competitors. What does the market look like? Are there any direct competitors vying for the same customers? Is the company expanding into a new market at the moment? This will help you understand positioning in the market/sector, but also allow you to appreciate what makes them different and identify unique selling points (USPs). We can’t stress enough how valuable this commercial understanding is to your interviewer!
Key considerations: How is the company doing in relation to its competitors? Do you have any ideas to improve its performance?
5. Industry experts
Actively seek out more general industry news to build on your knowledge and understanding of the sector the organisation works in. Read up on trade news and find experts and leaders in that field on social media channels to keep up to date with the latest developments. Find relevant groups on LinkedIn and contribute to these; being able to talk about key issues and trends within the sector will give you a better understanding and build confidence for meeting face-to-face.
You won’t need all the information you read, but knowledge is power, and will put you in good stead to feel prepared ahead of the interview.
Key considerations: Aim to always be familiar with relevant topics in your field – it mightn’t be useful immediately, but you’ll benefit in the long run