Research for Your Job Search
Bet you’ve heard seniors, parents, lecturers and even friends telling you to do some basic research before every interview you’ve attended. But what kind of research? How much and how deep should you go? Let’s dig this one shovel at a time.
Where to start?
This might be one of the simplest questions in the world yet among the hardest to answer. Why? Just like an underfunded final thesis that was rejected multiple times, your answers could be either too vague or too subjective. Should you place more focus on the company itself, the people or the products? You’re scratching your head right now, aren’t you?
1. Obviously, the company
Basically everything you can find on the company’s website or social media accounts. Get yourself familiarised with the general information – their products and services, their targeted audience, key management members, or even their other offices’ locations if you feel it is applicable. Having this basic information would help you a lot if the interviewer’s first question is ‘so, what do you know about us?’ I mean, anyone would think that it is rather rude to go for a job interview without even making an ounce of effort to know about the company, right? And if I may add, embarrassing too.
2. The person interviewing you
It is not a sin to ask who your interviewer might be. After that, put on your detective hat and go on an investigative search online. It also lets them know that you’re prepared. Just make sure your search is short of stalking, because you don’t want to be a creep instead (at least professionally). LinkedIn would be my suggested platform for its professional surrounding, but go on and have a merry chase around your other social media platforms. Knowing their (publicly shared) interests could help you to score points with them during the interview itself. Smooth-talk them, tiger. You got this.
3. The competitors
This point was initially thought out to guide you on what you should prepare to show off how you could benefit the employers, but I’ll just make it simple. After the minimal homework you did on the company’s background, find out about their competitors’ products/services, and compare. Which part could they improve on? And how can you be a part of that improvement? Show them that you’ve actually done your homework (in case they were indeed creeped out by your stalking skills). Sell yourself here (your talents, of course). If in doubt, do more homework.
4. The minimum salary acceptable
People everywhere will remind you that asking about salary on your first interview would be a bit of a stretch, and most of the time they are right. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find out how much you should receive, right? Hop onto job platforms such as hiredNOW or gradmalaysia for a rough estimation of how much you should receive so you can have a good bargain at the end of your job search. (Salary negotiations should only be done during your second or third interview with the company, just FYI).
Shall we go deeper?
Yes, we shall. But before that, I would like to remind you that by doing research, it isn’t just you searching the internet about the company or matters that can be seen in black-or-white. Digging deeper means you have to use one of your most valuable tools as a human: intuition.
1. Feel the vibe
When the HR person rang you up for the job interview, how did their voice sound like? When asked about the job, did their description about the job match with the online job posting you first came across? HR are the gatekeepers of an organisation; a disorganised HR usually reflects a generally disorganised office as well. or You can just go ahead and have a preview on how people come and leave the office on working days; preferably Mondays since they will dress up more casually on Fridays. Knowing how people react when they arrive or leave their workplace could give you a hint on the general environment of the office. But still, be very, very delicate and cautious about it.
2. Log in to message boards…
…and comb out any gossips that might be floating around about the said company. This is where you can use your online-searching skills on something that actually benefits you. Scout for reviews of current or ex-employees of said company. Figure out how the culture is like from their perspectives, but don’t panic if there are negative comments on the company (unless it’s a lot, in which you should be very careful). Remember, these are only from their perspectives, not a validation of facts. Give the interview a shot, and see if you’ll like or dread the opportunity you’ve been given this time.