There are many steps to preparing for an interview, but one step that cannot be missed, is researching the company you will be interviewing with.

This is not a difficult step, but it will make the difference when the questions start flying.

The obvious first choice for finding information about a company is on the internet. Check out their website and any additional websites that provide links or information about them. Don’t forget to read customer comments and ratings on each site. Also consider looking at Better Business Bureau reports and other watchdog groups to see how the company has behaved.

If the company is publicly traded, there will be a wealth of information on stock market analysis sites.

Don’t forget the old fashioned way and maybe pay a visit to the company and pick up brochures. Do a little recon of your own and talk to customers or even employees, if you can do it without negatively impacting your future interview.

Talk to competitors and business groups like the Chamber of Commerce in your community. There will be no shortage of information to digest about your future employer.

I recommend going one step further and if you know the name of who will be meeting with you, do a similar search on them. Don’t go knocking on neighbor’s doors or any level of stalking. But check out the web and see what pops up about their career history. Social media sites are a treasure for this sort of info.

In the end, you want to be armed with knowing what the history of the company has been, and where it’s heading. Are they financially sound? How do customers feel about them? Do previous employees fill the internet with complaints? What issues challenge the company? Are they growing or shrinking? Are they ripe for getting purchased or sold? Who are the key players and do you have anything in common with them?

These are the issues that empower you to walk into and interview confident and aware. You will have a firm grasp on what the company is looking for and more with this type of research.

Give me your suggestions of great ways to research. I’d love to hear it.