Employer Questions to Research before a Job Interview
2 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Preparing for a Job Interview
When you're preparing for a job interview by researching the company, there are several questions you should be able to answer after completing your research. Use the questions listed below as a checklist to start gathering the information you need. You may also think of additional questions that are important for your specific search.
Here’s the rule on how much research to do: The more responsible the job — or the more competitive the race — the greater amount of research you must do to pull ahead.
Size and growth patterns
The size of a company and the scope of its operations say a great deal about the company’s ambitions and opportunities for advancement. Try to answer the following questions:
What is the company’s industry?
Has the company expanded globally?
Is it expanding or downsizing?
What are its divisions and subsidiaries?
How many employees does it have?
How many clients does it serve?
How many locations does it have?
Direction and planning
Answers to questions about the company’s plans may be difficult to find outside of the company’s Web site, annual report, newspaper business pages, business magazines, or the industry’s trade publications. The following information is worth pursuing as it lets you know some of the hot issues to address or avoid:
What are the company’s current priorities?
What is its mission?
What long-term contracts has it established?
What are its prospects?
What are its problems?
Is it initiating any new products or projects?
Products or services
You shouldn’t go into a job interview without at least knowing what products or services are the bedrock of the company’s business. Find the answers to these questions:
What services or products does the company provide?
What are its areas of expertise?
How does it innovate in the industry — by maintaining cutting edge products, cutting costs, or what?
How the company is positioned within its industry and how hard competitors are nipping at its heels are measures of the company’s long-term health and the relative stability of your prospective job there. Get to the bottom of these issues by asking:
Who are the company’s competitors?
What are the company’s current projects?
What setbacks has it experienced?
What are its greatest accomplishments?
Is the company in a growing industry?
Will technology dim its future?
Does it operate with updated technology?
Culture and reputation
The answers to these questions are likely to be subjective, but they say a great deal about how well you’ll be able to fit into the corporate culture:
Does the company run lean on staffing?
What’s the picture on mergers and acquisitions?
What is the company’s business philosophy?
What is its reputation?
What kind of management structure does it have?
What types of employees does it hire?
Is it family-friendly?
Is it woman-friendly?
What is the buzz on its managers?
How does it treat employees?
Has it pushed out older workers?
Assess how the company’s future may be influenced by its past. Was the company part of a hostile takeover? Has it been doing the same things the same way for years because its founder would have wanted it that way? Ask the following questions to find out:
When and where was it established?
Is it privately or publicly owned?
Is it a subsidiary or a division?
Has it changed much over time?
How quickly has it grown?
Collecting current and accurate information about financials is a long chase, but it’s better to learn a company’s shaky financial picture before you’re hired than after you’re laid off. Dig for the following nuggets:
What are the company’s sales?
What are its earnings?
What are its assets?
How stable is its financial base?
Is its profit trend up or down?
How much of its earnings go to its employees?
How far in debt is the company?