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researching a company

 
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I am currently research a company that I may interview with soon. What types of information should I look for that will assist me in the interview?
 
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Matthew
I'm doing the same thing right now too. My thoughts are to find things that'll lt you talk intelligently to the inteviewer about the company. Or that let you ask meaning full quetions to them.
Find out about the industry they are in and then you can ask quetions about current trends in the industry and how they'll effect the company. If it's an air conditioner manufacturer you could ask something like ' since it has been so cold this spring has it affected your sales yet or don't sales really start until summer?' - something along those lines.
Look up their competition too!
What products/services do they provide/perform and what does that mean for your position. Like if they have a central product that they sell you can ask if you'd be working on that or if they're making someting new that you'd working on.
Hope that helps and good luck on the interview.
Dave
[ May 21, 2002: Message edited by: Dave Vick ]
 
Matthew Phillips
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That is along the lines of my thinking. I hadn't thought about checking out the competitors. That is a good idea.
If anyone else has any thoughts, I'd love to hear them.
 
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Check out their web site (you probably know that...). I found out that poor web site a lot of the times means poor company (or company who doesn't care much about IT).
Go to big job sites and see what other positions they have available. This might tell you whether they are growing, or maybe IT turnover is high, or even what they expect to pay salary-wise.
If it's a big company, check out how many H1Bs they have, this might give you an insight on what sort of salary they expect to pay, and if they like owning slaves:
http://www.zazona.com/ShameH1B/
It seems like you plan to stay in the company for a while, if your research is so sorough. It also means that it is not a top company everybody wants to work for, I guess.
I am personally not looking now beyind 1-2 years, so company research is not that important. The reason is that I believe there going to be another IT demand spike, which will bring salaries up again, in which case I'd want to be on a job market to get a piece of that. JMHO
Shura
 
Matthew Phillips
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Although I am thinking long term, I feel that it is important to do the reasearch in any case. I want to make sure that I don't get hit from left field in the interview. It also shows that you are interested in working for the company.
 
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and if its a software company -- see if you can download a trial version and futz with it a bit... in interviews I've given it always impressed me a bit to know they took the time to do a little hands on research.
 
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If the company is public, I'd recommend looking at their financial statements, particularly cash flow. If they are a net cash burner, and don't have a large cash float, then without further financing they won't be around long unless their product has a high margin and becomes much more popular in the near future.
 
Shura Balaganov
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Looking at financial statement is a VERY GOOD IDEA, especially if you can understand it. Look at how their stock has been performing lately, as well as historically (might be a good info to know to start conversation about stock options benefits )
Also, during interview:
1. Look at conditions programmers work at. Bad lighting, noises, renovations, small dark cubicles, people who stare at the wall when you pass them by, people who look like they need a bath, really old harware, etc. This all can be your warning signs. As far as I am concerned, these are red flags that tell me I don't want to work for this shop.
2. Look at who you are interviewed by. There should be at least a manager or team member from a group you will be working with, otherwise it's another sign for trouble. If you only interviewed by managers, it's a sign that developers have no saying whatsoever in what is going on (could be a good thing, who knows ).
3. Ask questions. Make sure your interviewers know exactly what your assignments might be in the future. Answers like "Yeah, we want you to do Java, XML and this and that...And maybe we'll be moving to this technology, and maybe to that also" sound like they are not exactly sure themselves what is happenning. Ask questions like "when are you planning to move to .NET", etc. This will give you an idea if they have a plan.
Shura
 
Reid M. Pinchback
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Favourite warning signs I like to look for (learned through hard experience):
- locks on the office supplies, and no way to get a pencil without staying on the good side of a grouchy admin.
- interview processes where you don't meet anybody from the other departments you'll be working with.
- asking developers how often they feel like they are living in a Dilbert cartoon, and getting "never" as an answer (makes me suspicious, particularly if they never reveal any kind of company weakness during your interview).
- any kind of troubling disfunction in dealing with H/R or the hiring manager during the interview process (day-to-day work life will usually be worse).
- privately-held companies that don't intend to go public, but offer you "stock options" in lieu of a reasonable salary.
- companies that don't have a fixed package of benefits that they offer equally (equitably) to all staff, but say "tell us what you want and we'll see what we can do".
 
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