If the company you’re interviewing with asks “what do you know about us?” you may see it as a soft-ball interview question. And it’s fairly common to brace for the tougher questions, using seemingly easier ones like this to catch our breath.
But don’t throw this one away so quickly! It’s not as light-weight as it seems. And how you answer can make a big difference in how they see you.
How to prepare for the “know about our company” question
I always tell job seekers to research the company carefully before an interview – and even before you apply for the job, since you can learn things that may help. So where do you look for information?
- Spend a lot of time on their website, if they have one
- Look for their mission & how they describe themselves
- Check out staff and, if applicable, Board members
- Look for new programs, projects, new directions
- Check out any press releases
- Use search engines to research the company & individuals
- Especially helpful if their website has little or no info
- See if they’ve been in the news
- Look for magazine & newspaper articles
- Look for articles about key executives
- Try google.com/blogsearch for unexpected finds
- Look at Glassdoor and Indeed to see what employees say
- Note: Disgruntled employees may be more likely to post
- Pays to check this out anyway to see what you find
- Use LinkedIn to search for the company / staff profiles
- See what they highlight
- Again, look for any new directions
- Use other social media to see what they’re saying
- Twitter, Facebook, Google+
- Also Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram
What to watch out for in your research
There’s a lot of good information out there, but also a lot of not so great information. And sometimes out-and-out lies. So be very careful about your sources before deciding what to believe.
If you see blog posts or Glassdoor / Indeed feedback that are exceedingly negative, take them with a grain of cyber salt. It may be more common for angry people than happy people to seek out a place to speak out. But certainly, keep those things in mind when doing your research, just in case you see enough solid signs of truth.
What to use (and not use) in your answer
All that research you gathered is very useful to YOU when deciding if you want to work for a particular company. Or whether you’ll be a good fit. And it also helps you figure out how to aim your interview answers to show how well you do match.
BUT … a lot of the things you find are not things you want to tell them about themselves when answering this interview question. You want to stay away from the negatives and potential problems for this one. And definitely don’t mention rants some disgruntled employee put on the internet. Or personal things about staff or interviewers!
Instead, talk briefly about a few “safer” things like:
- their products and /or services
- locations & number of employees
- revenues & strongest business areas (are they #1 in anything?)
- history (founder, product expansion, company growth)
- how they fit into the industry they’re in
- key player(s) they’re proud of (their own PR would help here)
And, then zero in on a few meatier things like:
- their published mission
- what makes them special (could be something from list above)
- something about the department / division you’re applying to
And from there, use that information as a springboard to close your answer nicely with a quick statement about why you’re so excited by the chance to work for them. And how well your experience and skills fit them and the job.
Some final thoughts
When you talk about them, tell what you know about them with energy, but don’t gush. I once had a interviewee who almost jumped out of her seat, she was so excited to interview with us. But it was out of proportion. You want to be enthusiastic, not borderline nuts.
As with all interview questions, remember to makes some key points, and then close with something that helps tie you to the job. But don’t turn this into an essay. It’s only one of many questions.
So when you prepare, come up with a few interesting things you want to cover, and edit the rest. You want to get them interested, but not put them to sleep with things anyone could find out about the company on the internet.
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