Continuing my series on tough interview questions, I’d like to cover one that can really set you apart from the crowd. This one is testing you on how much homework you do, and if it comes after a couple rounds of screening interviews, tests your memory (or note taking) skills.
So, what do you know about our company?
After you apply for a job, and before you get the first interview, you should go into intel-mode. I’ve already mentioned the fact your would-be employer will Google you. You should do the same.
What is their primary line of business?
Who are their competitors?
Do you seem any opportunities where you could help them? Do you see any market opportunities they could take advantage of?
Do you know anyone working for them? Maybe someone who may have worked there previously?
Once you’ve gathered this information you’re well on your way to being able to answer the interview question, “What do you know about us”. If you’re asked this in the first interview, the more knowledgeable you can speak (for about 60 seconds) the better. It shows them you put the effort into getting to know them.
If this comes later in the interview process then there are some additional steps you’re going to want to take.
At the beginning of any interview, I always ask permissions to take notes. That way I can excuse myself for a few moments before answering a question. I was simply making notes, not contemplating an answer. Also, when they mention something about the company, you write it down. Then when you are asked later, “What do you know?” You have more notes to speak from.
The more you put yourself into the answer, the better.
You’re a database administrator. You’re applying to a role with a company that aggregates data. Lucky for you, you have some experience building data warehouses too. When you get to this question, if you can talk intelligently about the construction of data warehouses, and how you understand how tricky they can be to design initially, you’re empathizing with the work they’ve already done.
This level of understanding on your part will play well. You’ve already experienced some of the same things. You have that in common. It should open up speaking points for the rest of the interview.
But let’s take the opposite track. You never took the time to learn anything about the company. When they ask, “What do you know about us?” You have nothing. Hopefully your interviewer will gloss over this. But, most of the time, they will let that question hang in the air a bit before moving on.
Do yourself a favor and prepare a little before the interview. Don’t let this softball pitch get by you.
What kind of homework do you do before that first interview? Do you take notes during the interview, in order to answer this kind of question? Do you have any thoughts I’ve missed? Let me know!