Research the Employer
By thoroughly preparing to speak to a potential employer, you increase your chances of making a positive first impression. One of the most important steps involves researching the company.
Recruiters find it annoying to talk with a candidate who doesn't have any knowledge about the company. A favorite question asked is "Why are you interested in our organization?" If you don't know anything about the employer, you won't be able to answer the question intelligently.
Researching the organization also helps determine whether your goals and interests will fit within the corporate culture and environment. For example, some employers have a reputation for being conservative; if you cannot fit into this type of work environment, you know that talking to the recruiter would be a waste of time.
Organization Is the Key to Success
If time allows, it's wise to begin research weeks before your interview. You may find reams of information and you must be able to sort out the pertinent information and retain key facts. Or, it may be difficult to find information and some digging will be required.
If you are dealing with a number of different employers, it's smart to keep a file on each one. As you do more research, the file will help you keep facts organized, making preparation easier.
The information in each file should include articles from periodicals or newspapers, tips and comments from people with whom you have spoken, and annual reports. When it is time to prepare for the interview, you can organize the information in a way that will impress the recruiter during the interview.
It’s a mistake to assume that you know enough about the organization without doing any research. For example, you may know that Ralston Purina makes pet food, but are you aware that the company also makes batteries and industrial polymers? You may be talking with a subsidiary of a much larger company and not realize it if you don’t do your research.
Facts to Know About the Organization
- Size of organization in industry
- Potential growth
- Annual sales growth for past five years
- Complete product line or services
- Potential new products or services
- Geographical locations
- Location of corporate headquarters
- Number of plants, stores and outlets
- Organizational structure
- Type of training program
- Recent developments reported in the news
- Relocation policies
- Typical career path in your field
- Name and correct spelling of recruiter
- History of organization
Information Sources Available
Researching an organization can be done through a variety of sources. The primary sources should be annual reports, the company's Web site, and employment brochures. While these materials are prepared by the organization and include predominately positive information, they are a good starting place. All publicly held companies are required to report to their stockholders via annual reports. If the library does not have the necessary information, you can contact the organization directly. The Internet is also an excellent source for information.
The library should also have different business periodicals and newspapers. Robert G. Traxel, author of Manager's Guide to Successful Job Hunting, suggests using the following publications. These should be perused for articles, both about the company in question and also its competition.
- The Wall Street Journal
- Dun’s Review
- Business Week
- Trade publications
- Finance and business section of local newspaper
- News weeklies
There also are directories that can be useful sources. If these directories are not available at the library, check with local stock brokerage firms. The important thing is not to give up if you can't find the information at the library. Check with the reference department and ask for advice. If the library doesn't have the information you need, they can often refer you to an alternative source. Useful directories:
- Standard and Poor’s corporation records
- Dun and Bradstreet reference library
- Moody’s manuals
- Thomas’ Register of American Manufacturers
- Million Dollar Directory
- Ward’s Business Directory
- Specialized single-industry directories