An employer representative will quickly know if you have researched the organisation by the way you act. There is no quicker way to turn off an employer than by not reading the material employers have provided prior to the interview.
Researching an organisation is an important factor in an employer’s evaluation of an applicant. Research positively displays your interest and enthusiasm. Your research of an organisation is a valuable way of showing, in an interview, that you understand the purpose of the interview. Research also establishes a common foundation of knowledge from which questions can be asked and to which information can be added.
How to research
For each organisation try to locate the following information:
- Services and/or products
- Age and growth pattern
- Media articles and reputation
- Divisions, subsidiaries, locations and size
- Number of employees
- Sales, assets and earnings
- New products or projects
- Number of locations
- Foreign operations and products
Since printed material may only be updated every few years by the employer, information provided can be somewhat dated, (from several months to several years old). This information is available on the internet through the company’s online profiles and social media platforms.
Learn about the job
Review the job description if available. Or talk to a person who is employed in this type of work or a related field. If possible, talk to the person you are replacing or other people who work for the same organisation.
Compare the annual reports from the past several years on the following:
- Balance Sheet. The difference between current assets and current liabilities is net working capital. Dividing the long-term liabilities by stockholders’ equity will give you the debt-to-equity ratio.
- Certified public accountant report. Watch for the phrase “subject to …”, this could mean the accountant is not happy about that area. Footnotes which may contain insightful information should always be read.
- Are earnings down? Determine if earnings are down and why from the report.
- Are earnings up? Determine why earnings are up or if this is just a fluke.
- Read the organisation letter to the stockholders. This will tell you how the company fared; use of words like “except for…” and “despite the …” could indicate problems.
- Check the stockholders’ equity and the long-term debt of the organisation.
- Check the income statement for consistency of net sales.
- Net earnings per share — check the footnotes.
Other sources of Information
The online world is currently the richest source of information for providing the company’s details and public image as well as the company’s public relations (customers, suppliers, competitors…). A huge number of negative and positive reviews, feedback and other relevant information of an organisation are available online and easy are easy for the public to access. However, the internet also requires a high level of cautious filtering of information in order to produce the truthful, whole perspective of your employer.