Successful interviews do not happen by chance. Frequently, much preparation on the part of the candidate will take place before the actual interview. Obviously, if the interview is with an executive recruiter who has not yet disclosed his client, then this would not apply.
Find out as much as you can about both the company and the people you will be meeting. If the company is public-that is, its stock is listed on an exchange or listed over the counter-then any number of the previously mentioned sources should be of help.
If you have time, obtain an annual report directly from the company. An annual report alone will arm you with almost everything you need to know about the company-at least for starters prior to the interview.
Annual reports are, in many cases, quite comprehensive. Many companies go to great lengths to publish a report which will really impress their stockholders, potential stockholders, and other influential members of the financial community. In fact, most public companies take a lot of pride in their annual reports. There is so great an interest in the annual reports of public companies that awards are issued in several categories to the best reports of the various public companies. These awards are given out by Financial World Magazine.
Items to look for in a public annual report would be:
- A description of the company business. What products do they make, or what services do they provide? What are their trade names? Frequently, the annual report will even indicate how the company stands in the industry. Are they leaders or followers?
- Where is the company heading? Many annual reports will include sales trends, earnings trends, and even share-of-market trends. Is the company really expanding?
- Financial data. How solvent are they? What is their net worth? Do not forget to read the footnotes to the annual report. Frequently, some of the most important information can be in a simple footnote.
- Who is running the company? The annual report will list the company officers and the directors. You can easily see if the company is family controlled-at least in obvious cases, where there are several officers and directors with the same last name.
There is an additional report that many public companies file with the Securities and Exchange Commission called the 10-K Report. If you are able to get hold of one, in addition to the annual report, this could provide even more pertinent information on the company. Sometimes negative information might be handled one way in a 10-K report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and another in the annual report. The more information you have at your disposal, the better off you are.
Private companies are frequently more difficult to check out. A good source is your own bank. Banks subscribe to various credit services which evaluate companies and industries. If you are a half-way decent customer, your banker should be more than happy to assist you. After all, if you can land a better job-you may become a better customer.