How to Answer Job Interview Questions About The Company or Job You Have Applied to
“What do you know about Our Company?”
A typical job interview question, asked to find out how much company research you have conducted is "What do you know about this company?"
It is absolutely essential that you do your research. I know many interviewers who have ended the interview immediately if the candidate does not know a great deal. In fact, I personally have done this several times when the answer has been “Not much” or limited in response. This may sound cruel but investing time in someone who hasn’t taken the time to at the very least find out the company history just does not make good business sense.
This and the following question are designed to screen out candidates who aren’t serious about the position or who are applying for a stopgap until something better or more suitable comes along.
You can find out an abundance of information from the company website if they have one (the about us section is a great place to start), advertisements or stories in the press, television and even product packaging.
- Research the company history; when was it founded and by whom?
- What is their mission statement, values and culture?
- How has the company developed and what plans do they have for expansion and development in the future?
- Who is the big boss? Are there any other managers or directors?
- Have they won any awards?
- Do they offer training programs?
- Any charity work or commitment to the local community?
- What are the opening times?
- If you have visited the company as a customer, what was your experience like? Have you called them? If so, how was your call handled.
Taking the time to research can only ensure that you make a good impression with how much you know about the company and shows that you are making an informed decision with your application.
“Why Do You Want To Work For Us?”
It’s rare for an interview not to include this question and the great thing is that if you have researched the company, you already have the information to give a great quality answer.
Most interviewers want to hear that their prospective future employees are enthusiastic about the company and its products or services so based on your research; this is your opportunity to give a clear indication on why you would be a perfect fit for the organisation and its people.
Combining your research and the previous question on what you know about the company, you can then demonstrate that you fully understand the company’s position in the market place, your commercial awareness and that it is the actual company you want to work for and not just the job title. By all means relate the position and opportunity to your desire to work there but make sure you show that it is them you want to work and not any of their competitors.
Ensure your answer is sincere and you actually believe it! There’s no point in gushing about how amazing the company is and how honoured you would be to work there if deep down you couldn’t care less and just need a job to pay the bills. Interviewers can see through smoke screens.
It is important to base your answer only on how you are the right candidate for the job so be sure to avoid stating that you want to work for them because of the salary, benefits, working hours or that it’s across the road from your home! Those may be some of your reasons but it’s best to keep schtum for now.
“Why should we give you this job?”
Are you ready to blow your own trumpet? This is your chance to pitch for your life and excite the interviewer with your USP (Unique Selling Point); your attributes that make you different and in effect better than any other candidate.
Most candidates I speak with find this question uncomfortable and some embarrassed as they feel like they are begging. I understand that fully so think of this; If there were two equally qualified and experienced candidates for the job and you are one of them, what would you say to make sure you were the one to get hired?
There’s a fabulous phrase used in business called the 30 second elevator speech which is often used when pitching products or services. Networking meetings often use this format so that everyone in the room talks about their business or service for 30 seconds and therefore everyone gets an equal chance to introduce what they do to the others and in turn hopefully strike up some great conversations and future relationships.
Speed dating also uses this formula and even finalists in TV reality shows do the 30 second “Why you should vote for me” speech.
Reminding yourself that although this question may seem alien to you or uncomfortable and that it is quite common in other environments can help to increase your confidence at promoting yourself so you will feel less like you are begging.
Practise, practise, practise this one.
What can you say in 30 seconds in a compelling way that will add interest and uniqueness to you above all the other candidates? In my book CV Creator, I suggest presenting your personal statement and cover letters as though they were a movie trailer; would you buy you?
Think of the interviewer as the buyer. What do they want? Be prepared to listen and look for buying signals throughout the interview. If he or she is nodding, smiling or agreeing to particular aspects of your previous answers then this is a good indication that they are “buying in” to what you are saying so refer back in some way to these skills or statements. Of course you can’t necessarily prepare for this in advance so use these buying signals to compliment your prepared answer.
To prepare effectively, the key is to highlight your strengths and prior experience in relation to the job role and how these will benefit the company in both the short and longer term. You are the product so think about what the buyer (the company/ interviewer) needs.
Remove words such as hard working, reliable, nice, good timekeeper and so forth as these should be a given anyway and do not make you unique.
Show you are passionate, have the experience and knowledge together with an absolute tenacious desire to succeed. You have the skill and you have the will.
Don’t forget to smile! Rabbit stuck in headlights is never a good look!
“What interests you about this job?”
This is very similar to “Why do you want to work here” so it’s time to make a list again. Use an A4 sheet of paper and divide it into two columns.
Grab the job description, person specification and all the research you have done on the company and make a list in one column of all the key qualities, skills, experience and qualifications that are essential and desirable in the role. In the second column write a list of everything you have (or just use ticks next to the items in column one) and then cross reference them.
In short, write down what they want and what you have.
Use this list to establish everything you have (albeit small) that matches the requirements of the company and let the interviewer know that not only do you possess all these key skills and attributes but based on your research of the company you can then describe how these relate to the role and company culture.
What interests you about this job = your skills match and synergy with the company values.
In all cases, you will want to convey your enthusiasm for the opportunity to interview, along with your solid ability to do the job.
“What are you looking for in your next job? What is important to you?”
Once again, a good old place to start is the job description, why you have chosen to apply for that particular company and your reasons for leaving your last role.
This is another question to work backwards. What is important to you? Is it career progression? If so then you should have researched what the promotion structure looks like within the organisation.
Maybe you are looking for stability for your family life. That’s fine to mention however avoid going in to too much detail as employers should not ask any questions relating to your marital status, children or personal life if unrelated to the role.
“What challenges are you looking for in this position?”
“I notice from the job description that I will have to meet monthly sales targets so I am looking forwards to the challenges that will bring. I am motivated to succeed and always aim to exceed any targets set.”
“In my previous role I spent most of my working week in the office on my own so embracing the challenge of working as part of a face to face team excites me.”
“I realise that a new superstore is opening locally which will be in direct competition so I am looking forward to the challenge of ensuring the highest standards of customer service at all times to retain the current customer base and work to increase this by positive word of mouth.”
You may also choose to ask the interviewer which challenges you may be expected to face in the role then add that you would be able to deal with this due to the experience you have already gained in similar circumstances.
The interviewer will be looking for solutions not a face of shock so watch your expression here.
They will ultimately be looking to see that you are motivated and excited by challenges so your answer should be upbeat and if you can provide any examples of how you have overcome challenges in the past then now is the time to voice them.