So, how much interview research is needed? Quite a bit if you are able and willing.
These days people like to use search engines to get every scrap of information before they do or buy anything. They are becoming conditioned to make their buying decisions early, looking for validation and taking action based on what they find.
Remember; the validity of the information is often not checked during this process, so be careful how you interpret it.
When looking at a company from an interview perspective you definitely need to do some research. I’ll show you where to look, what to look for and how to interpret your findings. Arming you with some great questions for the interviewer. The information will help to validate what you are hearing from them.
Starting with a basic google search of the company name, lets use Virgin Active and Pure Gym as examples, but could pick any of the national chains.
Virgin Active. Page one of the search and what do we see;
The domain is at the top as expected. On the right we have the basic information from Wikipedia. Scrolling down we see a map and some information about the clubs near us. Following that, twitter and links to various social media pages. In short it’s mostly about marketing and visibility. It’s aimed at new customers naturally.
We then have to go all the way to page 4 in the Google results to start seeing something job and recruitment related. Top of that page is Glassdoor. Here we see a score of the reviews and we can drill down into salaries and interview tips. They currently score 3.5 from 484 reviews. We should consider digging deeper if it was below 3 but not be concerned about a 3.5 score. Look at the highlighted Pros and Cons, and try and form some questions from them for your interview.
Benefits are mentioned, ask for some clarification around what the benefits are. Be focused on how much interview research you do to get answers.
One of the Cons is long hours, clarify the hours of work and what’s expected. This may be true for some roles but not necessarily the job you are going for.
Also try and read a handful of reviews some positive and some negative just to see if there are any trends you notice.
Looking at the website, it is super focused on the clubs and the users. You have to dig around for the career site but there is a nice video to watch. I thought it looked authentic although it is a promotion not real life. For a large firm they have surprisingly few jobs on their website, 18 jobs listed at the time of looking.
Now let’s take a look at LinkedIn. A basic search gives about 2500 people in the UK. The Virgin Active page says 6800 employees (that’s Global), the jobs page says 52 jobs. Compare that to the 17 on the website and it’s a big difference. I’m not saying there is a red flag here just an observation that their recruitment channels could be a bit more “in sync”. If I was being picky I could think that the attention to detail in the recruitment team needs work, but it’s a minor thing. There is not much else on LinkedIn about them.
At this point you’ll have some questions prepared and an idea of the scale if you are already in the process. How is that process, how’s the communication, how long has the process taken? In isolation these things mean nothing but if the process is tardy and disjointed and communication is poor they could be red flags for larger admin or people operations related problems. If you have more than one company interested in you as a candidate, these could well be the deciding factors.
Let’s take the same look at Pure Gym
Page 1 of Google very similar to Virgin although one thing that stands out is “low cost”. Lets check how Glassdoor rate their salaries!
Interesting that lots of their competitors like “Energie Fitness” come in the results organically. I’ve managed to get to page 10 and still nothing about jobs at Pure Gym. This is not a red flag, in fact keeping prices low does require less money spent on areas like recruitment marketing.
On Glassdoor they fair slightly better than Virgin with a 3.8 score. They do have about half the number of staff. I’ve noticed they have not claimed the company page on here. I think that is something that they should do but I have noticed the Gym Industry is fairly basic when it comes to employer branding so no red flag.
Again questions about long hours, but the pay is cited as good and the CEO gets a very good rating. They could be missing a trick here because joining up your membership marketing and recruitment marketing has big benefits for both areas.
On their website you have to dig around for the careers page. The template looks like the same one Virgin used so doesn’t really stand out. One button led me to 21 jobs but further down no jobs. Some attention to detail needed but no red flags.
On LinkedIn they have only 3 jobs at the time of writing this and a pretty basic offering in regards to talent attraction.
Now you know how much interview research you need to do you can go there and ask more insightful questions. You’ll be able to give a better commentary during the discussion, stay in context and hopefully shine.
If I was really looking at these 2 examples I could easily be drawn to Virgin because there is an overall look and feel that says they care about recruiting. They invest.
However Pure Gym could be very interesting because they seem to be a little behind the curve by comparison. This research would certainly give me some areas to highlight my strengths in and focus my pitch at interview.
Lastly don’t forget to check the news feeds for any big news like site closures, scandals or poor financial reports.
Knowledge is after all power! If you have any specific questions why not drop us a line.
If you’re getting ready for an interview and wondering what to wear check out our article here.