So you have seen a position advertised or heard about a career move that sounds interesting; your transferable skills, talents, strengths and experience match the organisation’s selection criteria; but you would definitely like to know more about the position, the organisation and its culture.
Employers seeking executives and high end professionals want to see that a potential candidate has demonstrated initiative by finding out about the company prior to the first meeting. This also gives you the advantage to ask insightful questions that relate not only to the position but to the company as well.
Whether you have a lot of time to research the company or a little, it definitely pays to dedicate some time to this process.
Here are five proactive strategies and tips to aid your due diligence in researching your potential employer of choice prior to the interview. Do this and you will really stand out in your interview. Be your own Executive Career Sleuth!
- The organisation’s website
This should be your starting point. Spend time going through each tab on the organisation’s website. Find out who its key people are; the organisation’s target markets; the purpose, vision, missions, values and goals of the organisation. If published, read the company’s annual report and certainly any media statements.
Scroll through the company’s social media platforms to find out what people are saying about the company and what it says about itself.
The company’s annual report is a good indication of the financial health of the organisation. If the company is a publicly listed company check out the Australian Stock Exchange website. How are the shares in the company performing?
- Google Search
Closely aligned to the organisation’s website see what other sites make reference to the organisation. Have either the organisation or any of its key people been mentioned in the media? Are there any published speeches delivered by a company executive? Look for key names and organisations associated with the organisation.
It could be that someone you or your network colleagues know sits on the Board of the organisation you are researching and you can find out more about it from that person.
A Google search will also identify any negative reports about the organisation. Read these as well. It will help you to decide if the company is really a place where you would like to work.
Below are sights to look for information about the organisation. Note that some provide useful information before requesting payment.
- seek.com.au – company profiles and recruiter profiles
- asx.com.au – Australian Stock Exchange
- abs.gov.au – Australian Bureau of Statistics
- brw.com.au – Business Review Weekly
- austrade.gov.au/asd – Austrade
- ibisworld.com.au – company research
- http://au.biz.yahoo.com/p/index_name.html – Australian and New Zealand finance company profiles
- http://asic.gov.au/ – Australian Securities and Investment Commission
Once you have established who the key people in the organisation are, look them up on LinkedIn. See if anyone you know is connected to that person. A LinkedIn search will also identify other employees of that organisation. Find out what roles they hold.
Do they know anyone that you do?
What roles have they held previously and with which organisations?
Do you know anyone from their previous employment?
Compile as much information as possible. It will help you understand the role and company before you get to the interview.
- Family, Friends, Colleagues
Don’t underestimate the power of your networks. You just never know who and what they may know. If you know anyone who currently works at the organisation you are applying to, call them and ask about the company. Do they like working there? What is the culture like? Depending on your relationship with them they may be willing to introduce you to the hiring manager.
And how about your referees? Do they know anything about the organisation?
- Customers, Suppliers, Competitors
Another tip is to seek out who the organisation’s customers are? This information is often available on the company’s website. Once again, do you know anyone in these companies who can give you information about the organisation that you are applying to?
Check to see who the organisation’s suppliers are. Is there anyone from this list you know? Are they willing to give you information about the organisation? You might find out if the organisation is reliable in paying its creditors. Suppliers will often let you know the organisation’s reputation in the marketplace.
Once you know the industry you will be able to surmise who is in direct competition with the organisation. This could help you in presenting a strategy that would put the organisation ahead of its competition.
Armed with all this detailed information, you can obtain a useful snapshot about the company’s market share, growth, who’s who, management style, history, financials, products and services, culture and values, strategy, employee relations, degree of security and degree of autonomy.
The bottom line is that while preparing for an interview uncover as much information as possible about the organisation so that you can better target your questions and answers in the interview.
Not everything will be able to be uncovered in a company search however you will be well on your way to being better prepared and confident during the interview.
To find out more visit http://executivecareermove.com.au/
Dr Edward Gifford
Master of Education (M.Ed.)
Master of Arts (M.A.)
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
Diploma in Education (Dip.Ed.)
Diploma of Management
Cert. IV Training and Assessment
Cert. IV Coaching for Life and Business
Advanced Certification in ACT
About the Author
Edward is a professionally trained coach specialising in executive, leadership and careers coaching, as well as workplace and personal coaching. He is also a business adviser and mentor. Edward’s consulting services focus on leadership development, career transition, strategic thinking, team building, workplace engagement and work-life integration. He is a business skills mentor and coach for Queensland Government. Edward has been coaching full time since 2001 and has over 3000 hours of personal, executive, careers and workplace coaching experience. Edward has also developed a comprehensive and very successful outplacement and career transition program for executives and senior professionals.