Have you ever watched “The Apprentice”? I love it, especially the interviews with the final few candidates. There are so many ways that a candidate can get tripped up, from their resume to their business plan, everything is fair game in the interview situation. However, one of the episodes that stuck in my mind was one where the candidate was asked what they knew about Lord Sugar’s companies, and the candidate didn’t know anything about the company’s Lord Sugar owned or what they produced. The person was using a tv programme to interview for a job with 6 figures, and they didn’t know anything about the company that they work intending to work for. As you can guess, the person was torn to shreds.
Pretty much every employer wants to know how much research you’ve done about their organisation. Don’t underestimate this interview question. It’s one that makes or breaks the interview, for the simply reason that it shows them how interested, or not, you are in the job.
Why is this question so important?
These days, most companies have some sort of online presence, whether it’s a website or social media channel, so you should be able to research a company and tell them what you found. It may seem like an easy question, but the depth of your research tells the interview panel just how interested you are in their company. If you haven’t shown any interest in them, then they’ll quickly lose interest in you as a candidate, and give the job to someone who has demonstrated that they are interested in working for them.
Where should you start?
Start with a basic Google search of the company’s name. You should be able to see if they have:
- a website
- Facebook page
- Twitter handle
- LinkedIn page
- other social media accounts
- what other people are saying about the company, for example, has there been anything about the company in the financial newspapers?
You should then be able to find out:
- the history of the company, for example who set it up and when
- their products and services
- where they are based
- how big the company is
- their mission statement of they have one
- what they say about themselves
- what markets they do business in, and what they don’t
- their competitors
- if they have any reviews on websites for example a hotel may have reviews on tripadvisor
- whether they have won any awards and what they were for
In addition, if they have a LinkedIn profile, look at who you know who works at the company, or who you know, who knows someone who works at the company and ask them about what they like or don’t like about working for the company. Interviews are a two way street, and you may find out that the culture of the organisation isn’t one that you’d thrive in.
Set up Google alerts for the organisations, and check them daily to see what the latest information is. If they have released some sort of press statement on the day of your interview, you may give yourself an advantage over other candidates by knowing this.
Preparing for interview
It’s one thing to have done all the research, it’s another to be able to answer the question, so make so notes on the key points that you want to make and practice how you would answer the question. Remember, this is probably the first time you’ve been interviewed for the company, and you want to leave a positive impression, so the more you practice, the more confident you’ll be in how you answer the question.
As I’ve already said, this may seems like an easy question, and it is in a way, because you know it will come up, so you can be prepared for it, however, many people trip themselves up by not being prepared.
Keep to the key points that you want to make.
Always reflect on how well you answered the question (or not as the case may be). If you don’t get the job, then use each interview as a learning experience, and make sure that you are better prepared for the next one.