Five Little Known Ways to Research a Company Before the Interview

May 24th, 2010 by lewis

Many years ago, a good friend shared the following interview story:
Microsoft Interviewer: “What’s your favorite Microsoft product?”
Interview Candidate: “Microsoft Adobe Photoshop.”

Faux pas! Lesson learned: do your homework before the interview. Aside from company websites, what are the best ways to research a company? Here are my little known favorites below:

Annual reports
Investors have relied on annual reports to make investment decisions. Also known as 10-K’s, annual reports can help savvy job seekers prepare for job interviews. I received my 2009 Google annual report a couple weeks ago. Google’s annual report is an easy-to-read, well-written document that includes the following:

  • Business overview
  • Corporate mission statement
  • Product overview and value propositions
  • Risk factors
  • Financial information

The Google annual report also includes the Founders’ Letter. In the letter, the co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, discuss the corporate vision and offer hints of the corporate culture.
Many job seekers spend hours compiling basic corporate information. No need to do this. The annual report aggregates this information for you. You can find annual reports on the investor relations section of a company’s website.

Earnings call transcripts
Most companies do an earnings call after announcing their quarterly financial numbers. Earnings calls usually last 45-60 minutes and can be boring, especially when the CEO and CFO offer their prepared remarks. However, the real gold is the question and answer (Q&A) session. During Q&A, analysts from top investment banks ask some of the most incisive and hard hitting questions. And more often than not, you get candid responses to how a company’s top executives view the business including:

  • Product pipeline
  • Competitive threats
  • Sales opportunities
  • Macroeconomic risks

Listening to an earnings call may test your patience. No need to get frustrated. Save time by reading the earnings call transcripts instead. Just like annual reports, you can find earnings call recordings and transcripts in the investor relations section of a company’s website.

Glassdoor.com
If you’re looking for information about a company’s corporate culture, Glassdoor.com is a good place to go. Employees offer their perspectives on what they like and don’t like about the company.


Industry publications
Read industry publications to keep up with current events at a particular company. Don’t know which industry publications to follow? No problem. Just setup a Google Alert with the company’s name as the search term. You’ll receive an email when Google finds news, websites, or blogs pertaining to your search term. Google will send you an email once a week, once a day, or as-it-happens.


Former employees
One of the best resources for the inside scoop. They’ll have first-hand experience of what it’s like working at the company. Unlike current employees, former employees are more likely to speak frankly about what they like and don’t like about the company. Talk to friends and family to find contacts; LinkedIn is another good resource for contacts.


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