How to research a company before an interview

Before going to your interview, make sure you prepare yourself by finding out as much as you can about the hiring organisation. Even a simple Google search should produce pages and pages of information, including mentions of the company in news articles. Don't forget to talk to your recruiter (if the job has been sourced through an agency), they should have a good deal they can share, as the organisation is their client.
Most businesses are now making use of social media sites and, as of mid 2012, with over 4.8m Facebook users and more than 1.5m LinkedIn users in South Africa, they're a good place to start. Most industries also have trade publications so have a read through these to gain knowledge about the industry and current trends and issues that they face.

Tips on researching a company before an interview:

  • Call the company/agency and request sales literature, annual reports, technical information, product brochures and so on.
  • Search online for the company website, spending time looking at financial information and gaining a good understanding of what the company does, and their goals and values.
  • If available, also access the press area of the website. This will give you articles from the media and insightful information about the company. It will also ensure you are aware of recent press releases involving the company.
  • If the company website does not have a press area, access information online through search engines. Alternatively, log on to media sites, such as The Financial Times website, and run a search on the company.
  • It's also important to research the people you'll be meeting, without doubt you should know their names and job titles, but it's often useful to know a little bit about their role in the company.

What to look for

Many companies produce a corporate responsibility report every year and also publish their annual report and accounts, so these are a good way of familiarising yourself with the company values and what financial situation the company is in. To effectively research a company before an interview you should take into account the role you're going for and what areas of the business will be most relevant to you.
If you can't access financial reports, see what's available from browsing the company website and have a chat with your consultant about how and what to research. It's important to look for this information, if the hiring manager asks what you think of the latest quarterly results, for instance, you'll be expected to give an answer that shows you a) know what they were and b) understand what they mean for the business.
For more advice on interviewing and searching for jobs, visit the Michael Page Career Advice section of our website.