It's imperative that you do your research on a company before you interview with them. Not only does being well-versed in a company's mission and history help you tremendously when it's time to ask the interviewer some questions, but it will also help you decide whether it's a place you even want to work.
Many times your IT skills will transfer to a completely different industry than what you've been working in. Research is also a good way to get acquainted with an industry you're not familiar with so you'll be prepared to talk about how your skills could transfer.
There are several ways to do this research. You can google the company name or, if the company is big enough, it probably has its own Web site.
Here are some other resources you can use to research a company:
- Business Wire
- Hoover's Online
- Annual Reports Library
- Forbes Lists of Best Companies
- Thomas Register
- Wright Research Center
What kinds of things do you want to know?
Here's the kind of information you want to look for:
- How old is the company?
- How large is the company?
- What are its products or services?
- Who are its customers?
- Who are its major competitors?
- What is its reputation / industry standing?
- Where is the company's headquarters?
- Look at the company's About Us page and see how many women and minorities they have in key roles.
- What are its short- and long-term goals?
- How has the company resolved problems?
- Have there been recent employee layoffs?
- What are the backgrounds of the managers?
- What training programs are offered?
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Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.