Internet sleuthing is a serious business. And if you’re in the business of becoming employed, you'll want to slip into the role of digital detective and Sherlock Holmes the businesses you're applying to.
Because out of the 33% of hiring managers who admit to dismissing a candidate within the first 90 seconds, 47% did so because he or she appeared to have little or no knowledge of the company. Conducting pre-interview research will not only prepare you for answering questions related to the organization, your experience and the position, it will also help you form informed questions of your own.
So, before you go onsite, here's how to sleuth online:
1. Look up company reviews and testimonials
A recent study by Glassdoor found a job seeker will read an average of six reviews about an organization before forming an opinion on it. Because no one knows what it’s like to work for a company better than those previously or currently employed, and a sites like Glassdoor feature this inside info. Reviews can be public or anonymous, and the site also offers an overall rating of the company.
You can also use Google's review function, and you can even dig deeper by checking the company's Facebook page and clicking the "Review" section on the left hand menu.
If the potential employer has a low Glassdoor score or negative reviews, you can use this type of evidence to ask questions about internal policies and procedures. To the hiring manager, it appears as though you’re demonstrating interest in the company, but also, you’re uncovering the type of expectations that come with the role.
2. Creep your potential co-workers
It’s an obvious but sometimes also the easiest step in your recon to overlook. But before you meet in person, set your sights on digitally getting to know your potential future boss, the hiring manager interviewing you and the managers you would be working with. You may uncover common LinkedIn connections, groups or industry networks.
However, what you don't want to do is get too personal. You may be tempted to check their Facebook, but don't mention that you did. Professional social research is one thing, but admitting to Facebook creeping can come across as just plain creepy.
3. Google the competition for differentiating factors
By understanding the industry, you’re demonstrating your knowledge of the market and what separates your potential employer from organizations that sell a similar product or service. If you know the players, it’s easy to plot talking points and demonstrate your knowledge in what their organization does (differently). And companies love when they're noticed for these differentiating factors.
4. Research the financials
You know what they say, money talks. And if there are any significant financial flags, it’s probably telling you that you need dig a little deeper or that you may need to walk away. Were there any recent department cuts, significant layoffs or stock plunges? Sure, every organization will experience ups and downs; startups can be high risk and large firms can fall prey to instabilities that can affect your role, but dig for financial info that will give you some insights into the income.
5. Get a feel for the company culture
People do business with people, and they do it with the ones they like—and this also applies to your co-workers. Likability is the #1 factor when it comes to being hired, so take a look at the company’s online presence and social media; doing so will give you an idea as to whether or not you want to work with these types of people on a daily basis. Are employees engaging and sharing company content on their social media accounts? Are they leaving raving reviews about what it's like to work there? You also need to keep your needs in mind. Are you into a startup culture but the company looks very corporate or vice versa? Finding out first will help you tailor your approach (and your interview outfit).
6. Search for press releases and news updates
Try to find any recent press releases or announcements about growth, product launches, partnerships or events. This type of information opens the door for conversations about how you can add further value. Social media platforms are also gold mines for discovering how the brand engages with its clients, customers and employees. Are there many brand and employee advocates shouting their praises or are there disgruntled trolls badmouthing the business?
Looking for a job can seem like a full-time job, but conducting the proper pre-interview research will help you land one. Are you working with a staffing agency to find your next great opportunity?