The secrets of job interview research

So you've prepared for your job interview, but have you done your research? By reading up on the company, practicing your answers and preparing a few questions of your own, you can make yourself feel more comfortable and confident, and give yourself a far better chance of being a successful candidate

Return to News & insights

Research the company

Do you enjoy awkward silences? If not, it's probably a good idea to research the company and find out as much information as you can before the job interview. It's commonplace these days for employers to ask what you know about their company, as this shows attention to detail and gives an indication that you want this particular job rather than any old role.

There's plenty of ways to find this information out, but a good place to start is on their website. Scour the "About Us" page and take notes on what the company does, when it was founded and where it's based.

Find out who its competitors are, whose in charge, what the individual market is currently like and if there have been any recent notable developments that could affect the sector. Even try searching for its most recent financial records - not only will this give you an idea of how well the business is doing, but also whether your job is likely to be secure if they offer you a role.

Finally, it's a great idea to get as comprehensive an understanding as you can of what the company is actually like. Is it a fun place to work? What are their customers like? What kind of consumer does the business attract? Does it have a smart or casual dress code? Is it modern or old fashioned?

As mentioned before, start by looking on the company's website for clues, but also search on Google for any mentions of the business in news articles or on forums. This can sometimes provide a more honest insight into the business - but obviously don't believe everything you read on the internet...

Research your answers

This is unlikely to come as a shock to you, but you'll be asked many questions in your job interview, so it's obviously worth taking the time to prepare your answers. You can't guess everything that they'll ask, but the same types of questions pop up in most interviews, so you can certainly revise these.

Essentially, recruiters and employers want to find out three things about their candidates, so answer these questions positively and you'll have a far better shot at landing the job:

  • How much do you want the job?
  • Do you have the skills to do the job?
  • Are you a fit for the company?

And don't feel cautious about showing some personality. As the last of those three questions demonstrates, employers like to gauge whether you'll fit into their company and work well alongside their existing staff, so be relaxed but take your lead from the interviewer and the office environment.

Either way, you're almost guaranteed to be asked one or more of the following questions, so think hard about your answers, practice them and revise.

  • Why did you leave your last job? / Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • What can you bring to this company?
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • How long would it take for you to make a difference to this company?
  • What are you most proud of in your career?
  • What have you enjoyed in your previous jobs? What have you found challenging?
  • What is the biggest regret of your career?
  • What is your major weakness?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • What do other people say about you?
  • What did you do during the gap in your CV?
  • Where do you see yourself in five/ten years' time?

Research your questions

Once you've been grilled it will be your turn to be in charge, so think of a few questions to ask back. Some of your potential queries will inevitably already have been answered during the job interview, so make sure you have lots ready. After all, having nothing suitable to ask (and resorting to, "Um...what's the salary?") is just plain embarrassing and makes it look like you're not prepared.

Remember a few of the following questions and you can't go wrong.

  • Will I mainly be working on my own or as part of a team?
  • Why is this role available?
  • How long do people generally spend at the company / in this role?
  • What is the company's working culture like?
  • What are the company's short-term plans?
  • Will there be a training programme provided with the role? 
  • Will I have the opportunity to attend courses during my employment?
  • What would be the next stage of the interview process?
  • If I were to be offered the role, when would I be required to start?