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with permission of Vincent Pelliccia, Nutfield_Networking)
hear it time and again: Having a good handle on a company's business
and background will make you shine in your interviews. Here are
some things to consider when researching the company of your choice.
1. The more you know
about the company the better
2. Almost all of the
information you should learn about should be on their web site
a. Products &
b. Key Management Personnel
c. Annual Reports
d. Stock Symbol
3. Other Resources
a. Finances &
Competitors There are many research outlets.
ii. DON'T rely on this to give you competitor lists - They
are usually wrong
landed an interview. But even as you're thinking about flying around
the world and climbing the corporate ladder, the stress has begun
to set in. What are they looking for? Do you have what it takes?
Most important, how are you going to convince your interviewers
that they'd be making the biggest mistake of their professional
lives by not extending you an offer . . . or at least inviting you
back for another round?
While there are no easy
answers when it comes to the job search, recruiters tell us that
one factor clearly distinguishes the best candidates from the also-rans:
their knowledge of the company and the industry.
Stand out from the Crowd
The first rule of effective
company research is simple: do it! Surprisingly few candidates take
the time to get to know the companies and the industries with which
they're interviewing. Those who do so clearly stand out.
The second rule of effective
company research is a little harder to swallow: do it early! We
can give you all the tips in the world for planning a successful
company and industry research effort, but if you don't get started
until the night before your interview, good luck!
Here are a few additional
tips from the research experts at www.WetFeet.com
to help you research companies, industries and careers. Follow these
steps, and you'll be well on your way to a successful interviewing
Plan Your Trip
Conducting industry and
company research is a little like planning a trip. Although many
people wing it, your journey will be a lot more fun if you plan
ahead. Make a list of the top 10 or 20 questions you need to answer
to really feel on top of this industry and the companies you'll
By spending a little
time up front thinking about the key issues and questions you want
to address in your research efforts, you'll maximize your chances
To get you started in
your industry and company research, we've put together a short list
of questions you'll definitely want to explore. Add to this list
to make sure it reflects the issues that are most important to you.
Who are the key players
in the industry?
What is the history
of the industry, and where is it heading in the future?
What are some of the
major industry trends?
What skills are required
to succeed in and contribute to the industry?
What role does the
company play in its industry?
What are the company's
key products, and what is its market share?
How has the company
made money in the past, and what will be its sources of revenue
in the future?
What skills are in
demand at the company-marketing, engineering, finance, sales,
What types of jobs
are available for recent college and MBA grads?
Does the company have
special training programs for recent college and MBA grads?
What makes this firm
different from other firms in the industry-its customers, products,
Visit the Business Library
There's a key person
inside every business library who can help you make sense of all
the mystery and intrigue about a company, as well as understand
their annual report: the business reference librarian. Introduce
yourself. He or she may well end up being one of your best friends
in the job search.
Ask for a tour of the
resources available in the reference room. Researching companies
and industries is a little different than researching your honors
thesis, and the business reference librarian knows the tools better
than you do.
But once you learn the
ropes, you'll be darting through the stacks and flying through the
electronic databases like an old pro . . . and when you get stuck,
the reference librarian can help you dig out.
should be set up at your initiative with people in your network
(alums, people referred to you by the career center or your personal
network, or other people you have identified in companies or industries
you are eager to learn about). They should last about 30 minutes
and held in a place convenient to the interviewee.
During the informational
interview, ask about the person's daily responsibilities, career
path, company and outlook on the industry. You might also ask for
suggestions about how to find a position within the industry, what
kind of preparation is needed for a successful career in the company,
and whether the interviewee can recommend any other people to meet
However, although the
interviewee understands implicitly your interest in finding a job,
most people do not want to be solicited for a job during an informational
Need some help in coming
up with good questions for your informational interviews? Here are
several sample questions to get you started.
What are the backgrounds
of most of the people in the company and the industry?
What are some of the
exciting areas to be working in across the company/industry?
What is the culture
of the organization like?
What do you like about
What don't you like?
Which companies do
you think are the most exciting places to be working in this industry?
are there for people with a background in (my major) in this industry?
What types of qualities
or experience do recruiters look for in this industry?
What kind of people
do well here?
Is there a lot turnover?
Why or why not?
How much autonomy/responsibility
do people get?
Is this a good place
for women and minorities?
Do you know anyone
else with whom I can speak to find out more about (the company
or the industry)?
Surf the Web
Start by visiting your
career center's website. They'll have all the campus-specific information
you'll need to know, plus links to other helpful sites. For industry
research, we recommend Careers in Business. For company research,
visit the company's website. Think of this as an online brochure.
For a more objective
view of what it's like to work for the firm check out WetFeet's
Company Profiles. Finally, read the latest news on the company in
The Wall Street Journal online.
Call the Company
As you begin to narrow
your search and focus on a few companies, don't be afraid to call
the companies directly and ask for information. Just be creative
about it! Ask to talk to somebody in a department you're thinking
of joining; if you're asked why, explain that you're conducting
a job search and want to learn about the company.
Most people will be happy
to talk to you, provided you ask them questions that show you're
informed about the company and industry. If somebody doesn't have
time to talk to you, ask if they could refer you to somebody at
the company who might have more time.
Make the People Connection
Many candidates don't
take advantage of one of the best resources they have available
to learn about companies, industries and careers . . . their personal
network! If you're a student, you're surrounded by people who can
be helpful in helping you learn about companies and industries with
which you may be unfamiliar. Talk to them and use your network.
Even if the people you try first don't know the answers themselves,
they can often point you in the right direction.
If you take the time
to research the industries and companies you're exploring in your
job search, the payoff can be tremendous. You'll certainly stand
out from the crowd, and that will impress your interviewers. But
most important, you'll learn more about whether this industry and
this company are the right place for you. Ironically, that's something
most people don't figure out until it's too late. Good luck with