Applying for a Job? The Ultimate Research Checklist.

By Sarah Cooper.

Do you want to stand out from the competition? Are serious about securing the job? Well, you need to research the orginisation that, with the right preparation, will be your future employer.

During your interview,  the classic question will almost certainly be raised: “What do you know about our organisation?”

It’s usually posed near the beginning of the interview. A good answer will get you off on the right foot. However, an unimpressive reply could almost instantly check you off the list. As such, when candidates don’t have a prepared answer ready, they’re utterly sabotaging themselves.


Art by olarte.ollie


Research, at the very least, shows effort on your part – and interviewers know this. The way you prepare for the interview may be a reflection of your professional attitude. Solid research also allows you to demonstrate that you are already thinking about how you can personally fit into the culture and add value to the organisation.

Points of research go beyond the organisation – one must also investigate its industry and personnel.

Giving today’s technical advancements, quality research is within everyone’s reach. Here are some key resources:

  • The Company Website
    • This is worth a complete dissection.
  • The Annual Report
    • It maybe online or offline. Look at the CEO statement, summaries and half year reports.
  • External Information sites
    • and Vault are American sites in which former or current employees post information about working in their organisations. This can give a unique slant. But remember, take every juicy post with a grain of salt…
    • Google them – you’ll be surprised what comes up.
    • The BBC hosts a wealth of details. It’s worth a search, even for local businesses.
    • Press Release sites such as PR Newswire are handy as well.
  • Industry specific websites
  • Twitter
    • Use twitter search to look at what people may be saying about the company or product. Search people for twitter accounts from the organisation itself and check out their streams.
    • If appropriate, why not post a direct question to your following? Ask for relevant information, articles or thoughts on brand.
  • Facebook
    • Visit fanpages for the company, and its products or services.
    • Look in your own network for anyone who may work there and again ask your friends for any helpful information.
  • LinkedIn
    • View the company profile.
    • Look at those who have recently joined or left. Is there any pattern?
    • Who do you know that works there?
    • Specifically look up the people who will be interviewing you, as well as managers and department directors.
    • Look at current and former employees in the position you are applying for, and compare backgrounds.
    • Search the groups section to see if they have any specific groups in operation, where relevant join these groups. You can also investigate industry groups, and search the discussions for mentions of the company or their product.
  • People You Know Working at the Orginsation
    • If you do have a connection, make the most of it! Ask them what they are currently working on, if there any large projects coming up, or current issues facing the business. Do they like working there? Why? What’s the culture like? What can they tell you about the personality of the hiring manager and potential line manager?
  • Recruiters
    • If you have a strong relationship with a recruiter, it’s always worth a call to ask them what they know about a company and its hiring processes.

Remember, don’t flaunt your research. No one likes a show-off.  But you must ensure by the time the interview concludes, you’ve demonstrated your initiative. Be prepared in the event you’re not given an opening –  have some questions prepared that subtly show you’ve done some hard work.

Do you have any more tips, resources or suggestions I’ve missed? I’d love to read your comments.

Sarah Cooper has over 14 years Recruitment experience gained in both an internal and agency environment. As one of the founding Directors of McGinnis Loy Ltd, specialist Finance and HR Recruiters, she is still actively recruiting in the marketplace today. Follow her helpful tweets @approachmarket

A free Innovate CV can help you get the job you always wanted. Find out how we can help you with your job search!


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Categories: General Career Advice


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