Interviewing – Research the Organization

Once the interview is set, it’s time to begin some in-depth research on the organization.

The number one complaint we hear from recruiters across all industries and functions is that candidates usually have not done enough research about the organization.

Employers typically expect you to know quite a bit, and why shouldn’t they? By applying for their position and accepting an interview, you are saying you want to work with them. Why? If you don’t know anything about them then your desire to work there is based only on being employed in general.

You should expect to be questioned on what, specifically, about the organization is interesting to you. Try to find something really specific to them. Answers like “because you are an industry leader” or “I’ve always wanted to work in this industry” are poor choices. That can be true of lots of companies. Why do you want them, specifically? Not sure? That’s where the research comes into play.

First, re-read the job description itself. Be sure you understand what the main duties are and look for things (tasks or skills) that they mention more than once. The more something is mentioned, the more likely it is that that is a critical element to the job. We will talk more about this in the chapter on predicting questions.

Next, move on to the organization website. It will be expected that you know any information that can be found easily on the website. This is also a great way to formulate some questions for the company to use at the end of the interview, but we will talk about that later.

Check out the company page on LinkedIn. This allows you to view information the company has provided about itself, but also to see people who work there. Do an advanced search and look for people from your school (college, high school, or even fraternities/sororities, clubs, etc.) who work at the company. Check out what they do and their career path. If you know the name of the person you will interview with, look them up on LinkedIn as well. Cross-reference our alumni on LinkedIn as well.

Google the organization. Do this when you first get the invitation to interview (if you haven’t already done it prior to applying) and get a feel for recent news involving the company. What have they been up to? New programs or products? Opening new offices? Repeat this step on the day of your interview. If some big news story breaks about that company, you need to know it before you walk in the door for the interview.

Google the industry overall. Understand who the organization’s competitors are and where they stand compared to them. What new trends are there (specifically if there are any that might relate to your potential job)?

Finally, get a feel for salary levels. It’s unlikely that salary will come up at the very first interview, but it could. You should always wait until an offer is made until you bring it up, but they may have different ideas. A quick visit to sites like can give you some insight into salary ranges for the job you are interviewing for and a few rungs up the ladder as well for reference.

If you have enough time between when you are invited and when are scheduled to interview, you might also consider trying to conduct an informational interview with a current or former employee of the organization. If you can’t find anyone to connect with for this purpose, the career center may be able to help.