Management Candidates are expected to show their ability to research, organize, and collect data by researching the company before a job interview. There is no reason a company cannot give their Management Candidates a portfolio on the company, but that would negate an important hiring tool.
Only through repetitive filtering and sifting will you achieve an indepth understanding of the company.
When I am coaching a management candidate my first piece of advice is to research the website thoroughly, and then don’t bring up anything from the website when in the job interview. The website will give you a feel for the image, value, and social environment of the company. It will also give you the company’s perspective.
Memorize the company’s mission statement, their vision, products, target demographic, and vision.
Most online articles say to check out the social profile. If you are a qualified management candidate then you know that a junior in the office, or a professional, is in charge of the social present. This person doesn’t reflect the company as an entity. At the best, a social presence can tell you who the company’s target demographic is, and what style of writing their blog writer uses.
The same goes for press releases. Most companies give 1 paragraph to a writer who creates the press release. Even news articles can be written the same way.
So how do you use social? What are people saying about the company? What frustrates customers? What do they like. Who do they like? What are the product reviews?
Go to the social network page and then follow the followers. Find employees, customers, and if possible, investors.
Visit the Company
This is easy when a kitchen manager visits a restaurant. It may be a little more difficult when a General Management Candidate is applying for a job in the same restaurant. Where the company offices can tell you a lot. What part of town are they in? What type of building?
If you cannot get into the company then drop into the local restaurant or coffee shop just before lunch, or at noon. Watch the professionals interact together.
Trade Shows and Networking
If you don’t belong to associations, attend trade shows, then you are at a disadvantage to other candidates. This is a great place to find out what is motivating the industry. What products or services are in demand, what are coming out.
And, does your company have any stake, or presence, in the trade show. You can easily find out what image the company wants to present to their customers.
If you are working with a large company then it is imperative that you have reviewed the last 5 year’s financial reports.
You can learn financial information from google, google scholar, and news. LinkdIn is also an excellent resource, if the company’s manager have kept their presence up to date. At the least, LinkdIn is often the best place to find out who the key company’s key players.
When a report is put online it is often uploaded directly as a PDF. These are not accessible through menus, or searches. But you can often find these reports by typing in the website name, or company name and the keywords news, PFD, report, power point, etc.
Another way to search a website for reports and hidden pages is to find the sitemap. www.thecompany'swebsite.com/sitemap/ This often shows all the pages. Some SEO software can help search websites. WayBack Machine is an internet Archive that shows previous versions of a website. This can provide invaluable information on the evolution of the company’s website, and the company.
Another way to find out if there is a private section in the website is to type in the website and /media/ This might help you access the media file. Here is where you will find video, podcast, PDFs, and images that have been used in the website.
There are search engines that might be able to help. Step #1 is to search ‘academic search engines. Consumer Watch, Internet Archive, Archive news, and sites such as ZDnet, Epinions, Ask.com, and other individual search engines. Even trying in different browsers can bring up information that was not easily found on cursory searches.
What do you want to know:
How long has management been in place?
Has there been any major changes in the last couple of years?
Are there any projects the company is working on?
Can you find any online software used by the company? Can you review/learn the software before the interview?
And any information that shows you had the skills needed to effectively research the company.