Why Researching a Company Helps You Find the Right Job

By Kate Rodriguez

Share on: 

Experienced professionals know the importance of preparing for a job interview. A big part of this prep is researching the company – its mission, reputation, competition, leadership and financial health. Learning up on the organization allows you to talk about your skills in relation to their needs and ask insightful questions that show you’ve done your homework. In short, you do it to impress the hiring manager.

But there’s an equally good, less mentioned reason to dig deep into the company’s background. And that reason is job satisfaction. In a study by the Conference Board, just over 52 percent of workers said they were unhappy with their jobs. The Society of Human Resources Professional’s (SHRM) latest job satisfaction survey from 2014 indicates that 44 percent were likely or very likely to look for another position outside their organization in the next year. That so many Americans appear to dislike going to work every day speaks to a lot of unfulfilled expectations at the office. It shows, among other things, that jobseekers need to do everything they can to find positions that will satisfy them.

In an interview hiring managers will, naturally, talk up the company, the position and the management. They’ll pepper you with questions as they explore how well your experience matches the position description. All good – from their side. For your part, however, you need to focus not only on demonstrating your talent but also finding out how well this role and the organization fit your values and longer-term career plans. Targeted research -- call it reconnaissance – prepares you to find this out in the interview.

Here are a few areas you’ll want to research thoroughly so you can explore them in the interview:

What’s the Company Culture Really Like?

Many organizations boast about their fantastic workplace culture, often referring to their “work hard, play hard” environment, high level of respect among employees, and good communication between management and subordinates. Is it actually that way, though? Find out by thoroughly reading the “Life At…” and “Why Work for Us” sections and the blog on the company website. Then head over to Glassdoor.com and read reviews by real employees. Also check out Quora.com and LinkedIn corporate alumni groups for similar information, or post a question if you don’t find it.

Note discrepancies between what the company website touts and what you read on other sites. If you find red flags, you’ll want to raise them, carefully, in the interview. For example, you’ve read a number of comments that management does not like feedback from employees or ignores it. In your interview, pose the question: “I really value strong communication and idea-sharing among all levels of an organization. Anyone can have a great idea that moves the needle. How does the leadership team here facilitate that kind of culture?” Or ask if they have an anonymous feedback system, which are becoming increasingly popular in large firms like Amazon.

Do People Really Get Recognized for Their Performance?

The SHRM study points out that although 55 percent of respondents said that management recognition of their job performance was an important part of job satisfaction, only 24 percent reported being satisfied with this area in their current job. One of the main factors in lack of recognition is the lack of clearly defined expectations for the position. Larger companies will provide information about the systems they have in place to acknowledge top performers, such as award schemes. You’ll need to look elsewhere, however, for a fuller picture.

Again, Glassdoor and Quora are good bets to get a sense of how current workers feel about this topic. When the hiring manager discusses the expectations of the role you’re interviewing for, jump on the chance to explore how clearly the job responsibilities are outlined and what the key performance measurements are. Ask if there is a formal system for performance reviews, and if employees receive regular informal feedback.

Is the Salary As Competitive As They Say It Is?

Seasoned professionals looking for career opportunities within their industry will already have a handle on common salary levels. But if you are looking at outside your sector or function, or if you are considering positions in another part of the country, start at Salary.com or Payscale.com for reliable information on pay and benefits packages by role and location. Then search Glassdoor for what workers have to say on the subject. Having this data in your back pocket will serve you well in salary negotiations.

Are the Perks Actually There?

For many employees, workplace perks such as flextime, extended maternity leave, onsite childcare and internal mentoring are as important as the salary. Companies are notorious for playing up such benefits but falling short of delivering them. If any of these perks would seal the deal for you (or break it) when extended an offer, use research to prepare yourself for this topic in the interview.  

Glassdoor, Quora and LinkedIn corporate alumni groups are reliable places to find unabashed comments on what an organization’s perks are really like. Other useful information on benefits at your prospective company might appear in Working Mother’s “100 Best Companies”, on a Fortune or Forbes best company list (they publish various annual lists), and “The Best Small and Medium Workplaces in the U.S.” published by Greatplacestowork.com.

Asking about perks directly in an interview, especially in an early-round discussion, can work against you. Instead, use questions to discover indirectly how genuine the benefits are. Ask, for instance: “Could you share with me what a typical work-week looks like for this position?” or “’I’m always eager to learn more and challenge myself in new areas. Can you describe some of the professional development opportunities you offer?”

How Secure Is This Job, Really?

A hiring manager might not tell you the straight story about their firm’s financial situation and future outlook, especially if it relates to the role you’re interviewing for. If it’s a public company, read the annual report and listen to recordings of earnings reports to pick up a general sense of the organization’s health. In the case of a startup firm, check its listing on Crunchbase.com, which tracks startups and their investors. Hoovers.com will undoubtedly have some background on the company – they list over 85 million of them – and will list their main competitors, too, so you can compare financials.

For more hints, do a Google search to see if the company has been in the news lately and check the organization’s “Press” page for corresponding news releases. It might raise some concerns that you’ll want to clear up during the interview.  

When you find a position that keeps you happy, it’s a win for the company, too. Satisfied employees are likely to contribute more and remain in an organization longer. So there’s no need to feel selfish by placing your own interests first in the interview. By researching the company thoroughly, you equip yourself to ask more insightful questions and to know if the interviewer is being straight about what the company really has to offer you. It’s how you’ll discover if that job is the right one.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr/OTA Photos

What does our team do?

We won't just do social media strategies. Social Hire will work collaboratively with your team to ensure your business gets genuine value from us and that your team gets the most out of the service. Our experienced social media managers are motivated to make a enhancements to your social media marketing and reaching targets in a way that realistically makes a difference to your business goals.

What the Social Hire gang loves is making a difference for our clients, and we don't want to waste your, or our resources on campaigns that aren't right for your organisation, if it doesn't get your organisation the difference you need - we prefer a better approach. When your business utilises social media management, Social Hire get your brand the exposure it needs and offer your business the lift it needs to improve.

Our digital marketing managers are the wizards that can give you the insight you need to grow your business. Have you had enough of making difficult personnel choices that don't work well for your online marketing?

The social media marketing team in our company are the best in the business at helping our partners enhance their online marketing. We create and implement original social media marketing plans that help our customers accomplish their organisational objectives and build up their online footprint.

Our team of managers are a team that assists our partners improve their digital presence by producing online marketing services on a regular basis. Our service is transparent and economical, which ensures that you get a great service and results that make a difference when you utilise our services. We arrange many different marketing services for enterprises from small businesses to large corporations to help make the most of of your company's digital and social marketing.

You might like these blog posts Are You Tailoring Your Business’s Communication Strategy To Meet Job Seekers’ Needs?, Why Face-to-Face Training is Better Than Online, How to Prevent a Social Media Crisis, and Small Business Tips: Focus On Engagement Rather Than Promotion.

  Back to Candidate blogs