Put Potential Employers Under the Microscope

Susan Hall
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Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions of 2010

During my newspapers-to-online publishing career, I've worked for a few companies that went belly-up. (Don't ask how many.) At least once we were in denial, so it felt like a total surprise, but usually there was a long trail of buzz in the background. But working amid that buzz, it was always amazing when the company kept adding new employees and more incredibly, especially, when people moved across the country to take those jobs. How could they not know?

 

Obviously, while potential employers can ferret out every last scrap of info about you online, you'd better do your homework as well.

 

This post on george's employment blawg quotes Marcia Heroux Pounds, author of the book "I Found a Job!: Career Advice from Job Hunters Who Landed on Their Feet," saying:

Many job seekers in this recession have found a job, only to be laid off again. Sometimes, it was avoidable with a bit of research that pointed to red flags.

Yep, the interwebs come in mighty handy, not just in preparing for interviews, but also for finding those flares. Ultimately the company's financial stability is key to your happiness as an employee there.

 


Pounds recommends frankly, but diplomatically, asking about the company's revenues and year-over-year growth. But you also can find out plenty online. This Executive Career Brand post recommends digging out the following on each company to which you apply:

  • Company overviews and history
  • Products and services
  • Historical financials
  • Competitors
  • Challenges the company is facing
  • Corporate culture
  • Company leaders and key decision-makers
  • Latest industry trends
  • Recent press releases and relevant news articles

 

It lists a wealth of sites to help you do that, including Glassdoor.com and LinkedIn, as well as financial sites to help you track down hard numbers on the company's performance. It always helps if you can talk to someone who works at your prospective company and sites such as these make it easier than ever to find them.

 

And as Chris Galy, Intuit's director of recruiting, told me, most companies these days have recruiters online at sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn who can answer questions, such as inquiries about company culture. Companies like Intuit that emphasize their values generally post them on the company website, offering clues to questions you might be asked.

 

But pay particular attention to news reports about mergers and acquisitions, the george's blawg warns. Rumors that your target company could be bought out, of course, set off internal alarms, but acquisitions, too, raise the spectre of layoffs as the new company is integrated into the fold.



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