How to Research Before an Interview (3 Practical Tools)

Let's face it, "do your research" is the most common advice given to job seekers. However, the guidance often stops there, leaving many to wonder about the specifics.

This blog post aims to bridge that gap by detailing three concrete ways to conduct effective pre-interview research.


  1. Utilize Google Alerts to stay abreast of the latest news and job postings for your target company.
  2. Leverage Google Trends to understand the demand shifts for the company's product over time.
  3. Access Vault Career Library to get exclusive reports and reviews on your target company.

Watch it in action

Tip #1: Use Google Alerts

Use this free tool to stay up-to-date on your target company's latest news and job postings.

By using a few simple search operators, such as quotation marks and the "site" search operator, you can receive regular updates about the company.

  • For instance, if you type in the job function in quotation marks, followed by the "site" search operator, you will receive alerts whenever a new job posting is listed on the company's official careers page

Additionally, you can type in the company name followed by the word "competition" to receive alerts when the company is mentioned in a competitive context in the news and blog posts.

Lastly, you can type in the company name followed by the words "quarterly earnings" to receive more financial-oriented alerts.

By using this tool you will understand how demand for the target company's product has changed over time.

Google Trends is a free tool provided by Google that's really popular with research analysts but can be used for job search and interviews as well.


Let’s say you’re interviewing with Tesla or any automaker that manufactures electric vehicles.

If I type in “electric cars” on Google Trends and show results for the past 5 years, you’ll see this graph:

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that when Covid hit around March in the United States, demand for electric cars decreased sharply alongside many other products.

However, an interesting insight you might draw from this 5-year data is that fundamentally, user interest in electric cars and renewable energy is on the rise, and when covid is inevitably over, the long term outlook for the industry is extremely positive.

On a more practical level, I can easily see candidates using this information when faced with the common “Why do you want to work here” interview question. You can say something like:

Funnily enough I was playing around with Google Trends when doing my research and found that although there has been a slight decrease in demand for electric cars at the start of 2020 due to Covid, user interest has been increasing steadily year on year for the past 5 years. With climate change and renewable energy being top of mind for many people, I’m certain that electric vehicles and similar innovations are here to stay. And with Tesla being at the forefront of the EV industry, I’m extremely excited to be able to bring my background and experiences to this role.
Pro tip: You are usually able to uncover very interesting insights if you do a side-by-side comparison of your target company’s product, with that of a competitor.

Taking that a step further, let’s say you compare interest for Google Ads to that of Facebook Ads, and you see this following graph:

Other than perhaps noticing Google Ads started to outperform Facebook Ads around the same time Jeff joined the Product Marketing team in 2018 😏, this might be another great question to ask at the end of your interview:

What drove the increase in user interest for Google Ads compared to Facebook Ads in 2018? Was there simply a product update? Or did Google start to invest in large-scale marketing campaigns to raise brand awareness?

Tip #3: Leverage Vault Career Library

This tip is mainly for college students because most universities have access to the vault.com’s premium databases and that premium content is the main differentiator between vault.com and free websites like glassdoor and indeed.

However, I do distinctly remember reports like Vault’s verdict, where the writer would first do primary and secondary research on the company, and would then provide a very comprehensive summary in one centralized location. It can give you a good idea of what the company is doing, what its competitors are doing, and what industry trends are relevant to the company.

Need more interview tips?

Get ready for your next interview with my Common Interview Questions and Answers playlist!