Candidate

There’s nothing worse than the feeling of walking into an interview room and being thrown questions to answer without fully understanding the company and whether it’s the right organisation for you. While it’s great to ask questions during your interview, it’s best to get an unbiased view (after all the interviewee will want to sell the company to you). Once you get to the interview stage, things can move along quickly and once you leave the interview it’s not unusual for offers to be made within 24 hours.

If things do go well you want to make sure that you have a realistic expectation of what it would be like to work at the organisation before accepting a new role with them, which means doing your homework before going in for interview. With all the information readily available at your fingertips through the medium of the internet, cover your own back by checking out these crucial bits of information before setting foot in the interview room:

Inside scoop

I’d always recommend checking out Glassdoor before any interview! Due to the fact that it’s anonymous you tend to get honest feedback from current / previous employees on what it’s like to work for the organisation day to day. Take some extreme reviews with a pinch of salt but it’s always good to get an insight from people who have actually experienced working there! If they have a very low Glassdoor rating make sure you question them in the interview around their welfare departmental hierarchy and about various policies and procedures (things like expected hours and duties, over time, escalation, SLA stuff, benefits, training etc). The company will like it because you’re showing interest in the company… but it will also help you detect the kind of expectations that come from internal managers.

Financial state 

Every company goes through ups and downs when it comes to financials, while start-ups are notoriously associated with high risk (make sure you consider this when contemplating salary requirements etc). Larger companies are also susceptible to financial instability which could affect your job, make sure that you’ve done your due diligence online, a good (free site) to start with would be Duedil. If you’re interviewing with a start up make sure you ask about funding (are they going through any other rounds/are they self sufficient etc). Be mindful if a start-up is over zealous when it comes to ramping up headcount, if they run out of funding, this is when they may have to cut back down.

Competitors

Understand the industry and what’s out there in the market place, not only will it help you to understand the product / services on offer but it’s also a great talking point in an interview. Maybe you’ve seen another company is creating a similar product (what’s this company’s USP and what’s their plan to overtake them in the marketplace?).

Culture

During an interview often the interviewee will want to paint the company in a positive light and you might find yourself asking what it would actually be like working for the organisation.  Make sure you have a realistic understanding of what the company culture is like by checking out their social media. A lot of organisations have a # (a life at) and current employees will post content of what they’ve been getting up to at work.

Media Coverage

A quick Google search can be priceless, recent newsworthy stories can help you discover the companies successes but also offers an insight into their challenges. In particular keep an eye out for structural change within the company (maybe a CEO has recently been dismissed) which could lead you to questioning what this could mean about the company’s structure (if you’re feeling brave it could be a good talking point during interview).

Opportunity

Personally, I wouldn’t want to take a role without the offer of opportunity in the future (nobody likes the idea of a stagnant role) so make sure you check out what’s going on in the company (what other roles are they currently hiring for / how many open vacancies do they have?) Couple this with some killer questions about their expansion plans and project roadmap during the interview to get overall picture.

Your future boss

A no brainer – make sure you check out any interviewers and your future boss on LinkedIn (you might have more in common than you thought). It’s also worth checking out their individual profiles on the organisation’s website.

Feeling like Sherlock Holmes?

Done all of the above? Get some shut eye ahead of your interview and sleep easy knowing that you’ve done a good level of background prep on the company and that you’re more likely to make an informed decision on whether it’s the right company for you! Feeling prepared but want to know the right questions to ask during the interview? Check out some of our top tips here !


About Naomi Baggs

Senior Account Executive at Link Humans, London's employer branding agency.

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