How to do research

A careful research about the company, products, ecosystem, and industry trends can help you win hearts and minds. Here, I share useful resources and methods on how to conduct a thorough research.

It comes down to how much time you have to conduct the research. A proper research would be between at least 7 days. By having a solid understanding of what the company does, you will come into the interview exuding confidence. Furthermore, the interviews will be much more enjoyable for both sides when you are well prepared.

Questions you should do research on:

  1. What products/services the company offer?  How do they make money?
  2. Why do buyers buy their products over competitors? (their value propositions)
  3. What are the biggest complaints about their products? (you need to know this as everyone’s jobs is to help improve the products)
  4. What industry trends that can help them?
  5. What industry trends that can hurt them?
  6. What areas the company want to expand to?

If you have 2 days to prepare:

  • The CEO’s letter in the Annual report. If this is a publicly traded company, then the company has an annual report. You can search for it and read the CEO’s letter. It provides concise information on last year’s biggest accomplishments. It also gives indications on areas of possible expansions. During the interview, you can make an strong impression by quoting the CEO’s words in the annual report.
  • Clients’ successful case studies. Companies often publish cases studies showcasing the success of their clients. The case studies are designed to showoff the company’s most powerful products and the impacts of during these products. For example, if you are applying for jobs at IBM Software, you should check out these clients’ case studies. You can often find these case studies by going on the company’s website and look for “Case Studies” or “Success Stories”. These Cases Studies provide incredible useful information on why buyers decide to buy and their value propositions over the competitors. Regardless of the role you are applying for, your job after you get hired is to help the company to win more successful clients. Therefore, reading these Cases Studies provide real-life examples to develop an intimate understanding of the company.
  • Customer Reviews. Reading Customer Reviews help you to understand the real strengths and weaknesses of the company’s products/services. For example, if you are interviewing to work for GoPRo, you can go to Google and type in “Gopro Customer Reviews.” From there, you can read Customer Reviews on Amazon about GoPro. Read both the positive and negative comments. The positive comments help you to understand why customers love these products. The negative comments help you understand where the weaknesses are so that you can work on the improvement.
  • News about the company. You can go to Google News and search for news about the company. This page only show news articles on the company and hence focus on the key developments that matter.
  • Youtube. I love learning from Youtube because it is visual learning. When I go to Youtube, I search for the company by their name (e.g. Netflix) and also for interviews by their executives (e.g. Reed Hastings). For example if I am interviewing with Tesla, I would check out the Tesla Youtube Official Channel. Most big companies have their own youtube channels where they display marketing content and interviews. You can find it simply by going to Youtube and type in Tesla. I would also use Youtube to look up important interviews given by senior management. For example, I type in: “Tesla Elon Musk” and many interviews, such as this one, came up.  I suggest you google first “Tesla Senior Executive” to see the names of the leaders at Tesla. Upon doing so, you will get this list. From there, you can go back to Youtube and type in the names to search for interviews. Another way to look for the names of the Executives is looking at the company’s website and Annual Report.

If you have 7 days to prepare:

  • Do all of the above
  • Use LinkedIn to find people either working at the company or at the companies who are using their products/services. Talking directly to end-users is powerful because I get first-hand information about the strengths and weaknesses of the products. From there, I can think of possible solutions. Armed with these first-hand information, I was able to even share with the interviewers information that they did not know. The interviewers I have met were impressed that I have done such a thorough job in researching about the company.
  • In preparation for one job interview, I reached out to  10 strangers. 8 added me back and 3 agreed to talk to me. To see how I did it, read here>>