If you’ve ever responded to a blind classified ad for a position, you’ll know that it can seem a bit disconcerting to get a call back from someone at the company requesting you schedule an interview. Even if you don’t have a lot of information to go on, you can still find out a fair amount about the company with just a few pieces of information. This in turn will give you the ability to ask good questions at your interview and show that you can do your homework.
Let’s start with a very discreet ad: “Small publishing company seeks editorial assistant to provide support to managing editor. Responsible for transcription and general administrative tasks. Please send resume, cover letter and salary requirements to [email protected]”
You can start by visiting the company’s website, but SampleFirm might be a start-up without a real website. Then you do a “whois” search on any of the major search engines for samplefirm.com. Since the company has to register its address to host a website, you may find contact information, how long the website has been registered as well as contact information.
Even if the ad is a blind one without any clear contact information, you can still try searching. Look for some of the most distinctive phrasing, such as “responsible for transcription” and “small publishing company” and search for those phrases. You will often find that the company has posted the advertisement in more than one location and may offer more specifics on other websites.
You should now have some basics, perhaps contact information, the amount of time that the company’s website has been active. You can then search for company officers to see if they have profiles on LinkedIn or other business network sites. You’ll want to see what their career progression looks like and how long they’ve been working at the current organization where you want to interview.
If you have the location, you can also search recent news stories for information about the company. If you don’t know your local newspapers’ website addresses, you can use a service like GoogleNews to search for the company. If they are a larger firm, you may also be able to find financial filing information that can give you an inkling of their fiscal health.
Put it all together and you should be able to pencil in the company’s structure, the major players and how they use the web to operate their business. You can use these to form more specific questions in an interview about the possibilities for advancement, as well as the company’s plans for growth. And you never had to leave your computer or make a phone call.
by John Sylo