12 Tips on How ...


After growing roughly 30 percent in 2013 and being on track for 20+ percent growth this year, we’re interviewing job candidates on a weekly basis.

I don’t know if this is a Silicon Valley phenomenon — demand outstrips supply causing candidates to get lackadaisical — or if this trend holds across the country, but I’m often surprised by the lack of preparation on the part of job candidates.

Even if the demand-supply equation works in your favor, it still seems like common sense to put your best foot forward.

Which means doing your homework before the interviewing process commences.

It’s not enough to review the basic information on the company website. The candidates who impress us with their knowledge of the Agency have researched us before they walk through the door. While the following tips come from our world — the PR and communications industry — they could be applied to any profession.

  • Online Search: More than plug the name of the company into Google, conduct a second and third search based on the time periods of the past week and the past year. This can uncover useful information that otherwise pushes to the back of the “any time” search. For the mechanics, click “Search tools,” which gives you a drop-down menu to click the desired time period.

Hoffman Drop Down Menu 07-14

  • Company Facebook Feed: Typically a blend of information that gives you a “feel” for the culture and personality of the company as well as background.
  • Company Twitter Account: Suggest reviewing the feed over the past eight weeks. Plus, follow the account, which tells the company you’re going above and beyond.
  • Google Alerts (or another tool for monitoring the Web): If anything new on the company appears online before your interview, you’ll know about it.
  • Company Blog(s): Another excellent resource for digging below the surface of a company. Just looking at the topics covered in the blog(s) can tell you how the company prioritizes its advocacy.
  • Company YouTube Channel: With a little bit of luck, you discover the company has a sense of humor.
  • Company LinkedIn Page: Can be a repeat of the content on Twitter and Facebook, but still worth the look.
  • Social Search: There are free tools out there like Social Mention that rake social channels by keywords.
  • Other Company Social Channels: Between a social search, Google search and reviewing the company website, you should be able to capture a comprehensive list of the company’s social channels. Take a few minutes to check them out. For example, our SlideShare platform — and especially the deck “How Clients Get the Most Out of Us — reveals our philosophy and even psychology in supporting clients.

  • The Interview Team: Request the names of the people who will interview you. Few candidates take this step. Yet, it can be as valuable as the company-centric information. With this breadcrumb in hand, you can build a mini dossier on each person. I appreciate that repeating the tips above for multiple individuals can become time-intensive, but at the very least you can check out each person’s LinkedIn profile. Under the contact section on each LinkedIn profile, you’ll find the person’s individual social channels including Twitter. If he or she pens a personal blog, it will likely be here — another great window into an individual and one that quasi sits off the grid.
  • Media Coverage: Journalists can help with your due diligence. Most companies will post substantial media stories on their websites’ press room. You should also use Google News, again searching “any time,” “past year” and “past week” which increase the probability you’ve captured the meaningful hits.
  • Quarterly Earnings: If the company is public, tap into its quarterly earnings. Seeking Alpha offers free access to the transcripts from quarterly earnings calls. You’ll often find nuggets of gold in what the CEO shares and the Q&A at the end.

I recognize that you could literally spend an entire work week, 40+ hours, conducting the research outlined above.

That’s not realistic.

Still, devoting four hours to this due diligence will paint a picture of the company that allows you to be at your best during the interview.

Equally important, it helps you to intelligently start exploring the question: Do I want to work for this company?

After all, the evaluation goes both ways.



  • Todd

    Another useful resource is your local public or university library even in Silicon Valley). The library has newspaper and business databases that can provide in-depth information written by a third-parties. If you have a library card you can access these resources from home.

    • hoffman

      Hi Todd,

      Thanks for the reminder. You’re right about the local library being a great resource. We happen to be blessed with the MLK Library a short walk from our downtown San Jose office.


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