Have You Done Your Homework? When an Interviewer Asks What You Know About the Company
One of the most common tactics interviewers apply when interviewing candidates is to see whether you’ve researched the organization before the interview. Here’s a guide for responding to company-knowledge questions.
Interviewer motivation for asking: Quite simply, the interviewer wants to know that you’ve done your homework. The employer expects you to come into the interview with thorough knowledge of the organization and the position. The interviewer wants you to know the organization well enough so that you also know what you can contribute and perhaps how you can respond to the employer’s issues and challenges. The degree to which you’ve researched the employer shows your level of interest in the job. The interviewer may also ask you about the geographic area in which the organization is located if relocation is part of the job.
Strategy for response: Having done your due diligence and performed extensive research on the employer and the job, showcase that knowledge in your responses. Be prepared to demonstrate not only what you know about the organization, position, and geographic area, but also what you like about them. When asked about the contribution you can bring to the employer, relate one of your accomplishments to a need that your research has told you this organization has. If you are asked about solving a company problem, be sure your research has given you sufficient background about the issue before responding. If it has not, ask the interviewer questions (such as finding out what approaches have been applied to this problem in the past and why they haven’t worked) to get sufficient information. Don’t assume that a solution that worked in one of your past positions will automatically work for this employer.
Sample questions in this subject area:
- Tell me what you know about our company.
- Why did you decide to seek a position in this company?
- Why are you seeking this position?
- Why do you think you might like to live and work in the community in which our company is located?
- If you were hiring for this position, what qualities would you look for?
- What suggestions do you have for our organization?
- What are your expectations for this position?
- What do you expect to contribute to our organization?
- What changes would you make in the organization?
- What can you tell me about our organization’s …
- Key stakeholders?
- Mission statement?
- Most recent media releases?
- Competitors? News about the competitors?
Sample responses for this subject area:
Question: Why do you think you might like to live and work in the community in which
our company is located?
Response: The great thing about Bentonville is that the city is a microcosm of WalMart’s strengths, as well as the opportunities and challenges facing the company. Bentonville, like many places across the U.S., has changed dramatically since the time when the first WalMart store opened there. In fact, just in the past 40 years or so, the population has more than quadrupled–going from a rural community of about 5,000 people in the 1970s to more than 20,000 today. While still the county seat, the town has seen the development of upscale neighborhoods and shopping centers. Just like the town, WalMart’s growth and expansion over the past 40 years has brought amazing success, but also many new challenges, especially as the traditional markets become saturated and the company expands into new and unchartered territory. Thus, driving around Bentonville and talking with the townspeople will not only be a fun and challenging experience–as any move to a new town is–but I believe the experience can also help foster new strategic ideas for helping WalMart achieve even greater success.
Never neglect this important research facet of job-interviewing. The Internet puts just about everything you’d need to know at your fingertips. Don’t forget, too, that your research can include gathering insights from people who already work for the organization.
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