Six Steps for Company Research

Susie Buysse, Associate Director

In my work with TMMBA students and alumni, we often talk about techniques for an effective job search.  Here is one way to clearly establish a positive interview impression:

Six Steps for Company Research:

Have you ever been asked the popular question in a job interview, “What do you know about our company?”  If you conduct research and develop an answer before the interview, it’s a sure-fire way to stand out from the competition.  You’ll demonstrate your specific knowledge and preparation and you’ll also have a few thoughtful questions that showcase the depth of your research.

In addition, my recommendation is to initially (while planning job search) establish a list of 30 – 40 target companies, and then tackle the research.  However, if you receive a phone call for an interview and realize you know very little about the company, these six steps will also be beneficial.

  1. Think of topics that are important to you: financial status of company, products/services, industry position & outlook, reputation, leadership team, organization structure, advancement opportunities, etc.   It might be company culture which is revealed informally through stories about the past, anecdotes and predictions about the future, and gossip and rumors.  Formal indications include organization history, vision, mission, and goal statements.
  2. Develop a list of ten to fifteen questions for you to answer.  By answering the same questions for each company, you’ll be able to compare one to another.
  3. Begin your research with online or print sources.   As a starting place, locate the company’s website and view the annual report and investor relations section.  Other online sources might include:  CorporateInformation or Vault.com
  4. Connect with your general network; people are typically the golden nugget for information.  Reference librarians can also be helpful in locating information that is difficult to find.
  5. Organize the data.  Bookmark company websites, annual reports, etc.  You might develop a one-page overview for each company.  Tip: Hoover’s database has terrific competitive landscape information.
  6. As a last step, find and read a few recently published articles.