I passed my phone screening interview and I have a 3-hour grilling to look forward to.

I know I had better look on the company website to see what they do and what they value. However, other than that I don't know what else they would expect me to know or where to find the information.

The company is in the finance industry and I honestly don't know anything about that industry at all.

What are some things they would expect you to know for an intermediate level software developer?

  • I only ever held two jobs after finishing college and in both cases, I knew absolutely nothing about the job. Well actually I did what you did which was look at their website and said exactly what the website said. The interviewer was very happy to explain more in detail about the company's history and job posting.
    – Dan
    Aug 3 '15 at 19:23

As you rightly pointed out, definitely look at their website and get a feel for the company, their products and their values. Also for listed companies read the last couple of annual reports and their coverage on sites like Investors Chronicle the WSJ or the FT.

Beyond that, what they will expect is that during the interview process that you ask the relevant questions that will impact on how you do your job and how you feel about the fit for you with that organsation. For example you could ask things like:

  • What toolsets are used;
  • What project methodologies (eg Agile);
  • Source control;
  • Availability of training;
  • Team size, team diversity and overlap;
  • What their expectations are of you;
  • Salary ranges;
  • Work environment; and
  • Anything that is a winner or a show stopper for you!

They won't expect you do know about the internal workings of the organisation, but they will expect you to know who they are, what they do and what markets they service. Then concentrate on tailoring your answers in the interview insomuch as possible to fit their values and goals.

Remember, an interview is a two way communication mechanism. It's a way of you finding out what the fit is just as much as the prospective employer is of you. By asking questions you are showing that you are engaged and interested.

  • 3
    I greatly impressed my first interviewer by knowing more about IBM's RISC prototype than he did -- i'd gone thru some of the research division's recent external publications and picked out a few that I found impressive. (This was back when it was the 801 architecture, long before that evolved into the Power machines.)
    – keshlam
    Aug 3 '15 at 4:40
  • 3
    This is a decent answer, but in addition to knowing enough about the company to impress during an interview, the candidate should also research sufficiently to discover red flags from a company perspective: Company vision, annual revenue, turn over, etc. Especially in the case of a start up, these kinds of things are extremely important when a company can go from funded to shuttered in about 20 minutes. Aug 3 '15 at 20:11

Since it is for an Intermediate position, you'll probably be up against some other candidates that have experience in the financial industry. All things being equal (I know that can be hard to equate), they could have you at a disadvantage. You have to turn that around.

To me, the two ways to do that are to show that you interested in this area and have had some programming experiences that are similar to what this job requires. Do some research and be able to come up with intelligent questions about the finance industry. Look for questions on stackoverflow that involve the financial industry. You won't be an expert, but it shows a level of caring. Some people in this industry will give-away the fact that they think it is boring.

If you know what you'll be building, look for things in common with your previous experiences. If I needed a programmer to build a highly transactional stock trading app, I'd rather hire someone from another industry that worked on some sort of real-time warehouse inventory app than someone who worked in the accounting department at a small bank tying out account balances every quarter.

Try to get some more specific information about the development team from LinkedIn. Do they all have previous experience in the industry? Did they go to similar universities or hold certifications in the same area? These can lead to questions about how the team has grown and the direction they are heading.


When I was young and just starting out, it was common advice to job seekers to research the company and find out all you could about it. There was no Internet in those days (yes, I was applying for jobs bashing rocks together and hunting sabre-tooth tigers) so I would go to the library and search through reference sources and newspapers. It was a lot of work. And I don't recall once that it ever did me any good. Pretty much every interview I've ever gone on, the first thing they do is say, "Let me tell you a little about this company", and they'd proceed to tell me in ten minutes far more than I had learned from hours of research.

I suppose if you applied for a job at some big, well-known company, and it was obvious that you had never heard of the company or didn't know what they did, that might make you look ignorant. Like if you applied for a computer job at Microsoft and it became apparent that you had never heard of their company, I'm sure they'd wonder how much experience you could have with computers. But for the typical small to mid-size company, it wouldn't be a surprise if you'd never heard of them.

That said, it certainly doesn't hurt to do some research and find out what you can. Other than wasting some time, it's hard to see how doing research could hurt you. And you might learn something that brings up questions that you want to ask during the interview. Last time I was job-hunting I invested a few hours in researching a company on the Internet before going on an interview. Not weeks, but a few hours.

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