So… “What do you know about our company?”
You’re almost guaranteed to hear this question during a job interview. Even if you hadn’t even heard of the company before applying for the job, you don’t want to be remembered as the person who gave the answer “jack diddly squat?”
As simple as it may seem, this question could either make or break your interview, depending on how you answer.
Fear not — this question isn’t as scary as it seems. With some careful research before your interview, you can gather all the information you need to seamlessly and successfully answer this question and leave a positive impression on your interviewer.
What They’re Trying to Find Out
When an interviewer asks this question, they’re not actually interested in hearing the entire detailed history of their company — they’re trying to figure out if you even bothered to prepare for the interview.
Knowing the history and details of a company will make you a more appealing candidate to the interviewer, especially if your own personal goals align with those of the company’s.
Many people assume that they will learn everything they need to know about the company during the actual interview and don’t even think to do any research before going in. You need to come to the interview with background knowledge of the company to successfully answer this question.
Basic Questions to Understand
- What kind of organization is this? Is this a corporation, a nonprofit, a government institution, or a start-up?
- What products or services does the organization provide? Who is their target demographic or audience?
- What are their annual revenues?
- How large or small is the organization? How many people do they employ? How many locations do they have?
More Important Questions to Understand
- Why does the company exist? Why was it created?
- What is their mission? What do they hope to accomplish or what aspects do they seek to maintain?
- Who founded the company? What do you know about them?
- What has happened with the company since it was founded? What developments have they made, or what have they accomplished? Have they won any awards or honors for their work?
- How do they fit into the industry that they’re in?
Impress Your Hiring Manager
You should try to learn more about the hiring manager and what they do on a daily basis. Don’t be a robot — the secret to turning an interview from an awkward script-reading into a real human conversation is to understand the company, the hiring manager, and what they do.
Remember to share an appropriate amount of knowledge — don’t be creepy.
Questions to Consider about the Hiring Manager:
- What is their background or history?
- What is their mission?
- What is the reason for the job opening?
- What are their biggest challenges?
Even if your interviewer turns out to be painfully boring, you should come prepared with enough background information to impress them. Interviewers look for people who are genuine and enthusiastic, but even if you’re neither of these things, you can trick your interviewer with some pre-interview research of the company.
How to do Your Research:
- Spend a lot of time going through the company’s website (if they have one). Read how they describe themselves. Look for new programs or projects. What kind of people do they hire?
- Google them. This is especially important if their website provides very little information. Check Google News for recent stories about the company. Search for company press releases and keep an eye out for online magazine or newspaper articles about the company or their executives.
- Use LinkedIn and other social media profiles to research the company and their employees.
- Check Glassdoor and Indeed to see what employees are saying. Keep in mind that disgruntled employees are always more likely to post. However, if the most of their reviews are negative, consider bringing it up to the interviewer. Proceed with caution – try to come off as genuinely curious rather than being accusatory.
Formulating Your Answer
- Don’t bring up everything you find. Stay away from saying negative things about the company. Don’t quote any angry rants posted by an employee online. Don’t mention personal information about staff members (again, don’t be creepy).
- Stick to safe topics, such as their products & services, their mission, their history, what sets them apart from their competition, etc.
- Mention key points, but don’t recite an entire detailed history of the organization.
Examples for Answering this Question
“I really appreciate your mission to provide high-quality affordable healthcare, and your commitment to providing education about how to make informed choices and lead healthy lives. I greatly respect your efforts to provide healthcare and education to countries abroad with your local partner organizations. Your commitment to creating a healthier world for everyone resonates with my desire to help and educate others.”
This answer shows that the candidate has researched the company, while also showing that they sharing their goals and values. This demonstrates that they not only know the mission of the company — they understand why it was founded and their long term goals.
“Your company was founded in 2008 with the intent to further the reality of solar energy for utility, corporate, and commercial businesses, regardless of government incentives. Initially your company was focused on residential solar, but after widespread success began to focus on commercial rooftop PV, and later becoming a leader in full-scale solar projects.
You have positive reviews online stating that you have great opportunities for growth, good locations, and that you’re a very security and safety-conscious company. I am excited by these reviews and opportunities for growth, as I would like to succeed and grow with your company.”
This is a good answer because it shows knowledge of why the company was founded, their products and services, and their history and successes. This answer also uses terminology of the specific industry, which shows that the candidate is informed and familiar with the industry. This answer shows that they have taken the time to read reviews of the company and that they were motivated by the results.
Things to Consider Before Your Interview
You should show that you understand the company’s mission, and how you would help them succeed. Prepare a condensed statement on how your qualifications and experiences can help in reaching their goals. Convey your knowledge with a positive attitude, but don’t be over the top. You want to come off as pleasant and enthusiastic, not psychotic.
When you learn about the details and history of a company, it helps you come up with your own questions for the interviewer. You may even discover that the more you learn about a company, the more passionate and excited you become about the career or industry itself.
Reciting a memorized script of information won’t make you stand out as a potential employee. Researching employers and organizations not only helps you get a job, but also helps you better understand what you’re looking for in an employer or a career. And remember — don’t be creepy.