“So Mr Job Seeker, thanks for coming along to this interview, tell me what you know about our organisation and our culture?”
How many interviewers ask this question or variations of it and then find themselves yawning or doodling on their pad?
Why do so many interviewees fall down at this particular question?
Why do many totally miss such an exceptional opportunity to sell themselves, to begin closing early and to underline why they are right for this organisation almost from the word go?
Why do almost all assume that as the Interviewer I have nothing better to do with my time than listen to the 5th Interviewee in a row recite the ‘About Us’ page of the company website back to me?
This question, in whatever format it takes is a shining, blinding, blatantly obvious opportunity for you as the interviewee to sell yourself to the business. It isn’t an offer to sit there and recite a load of old gumph from the website or the back of the company literature.
What is an interviewer looking for in your answer to this question? Yes, they are looking to establish what you know about the organisation, but ideally they want to know that you have actually done some research, that you have some understanding potentially of why this organisation may be right for you culturally, how it meets your aspirations and generally. Match yourself to your statements and take this opportunity to evidence why you are potentially right, for example:
“Mr Interviewer, I am aware that in the last 12 months your organisation has made a number of acquisitions and this is one of the reasons I am here today. I thrive in fast paced environments that require agility and flexibility from its employees and this sounds like a perfect match for me because (insert example or experience of when you have thrived in a challenging fast paced environment)…”
Or what about:
“I’m so pleased you have asked me this question because I have done lots of research on the culture of the business and in particular the way it appears to promote from within and offer exceptional career development opportunities, something which really appeals to me in terms of my next opportunity. For example I noticed whilst using Linkedin that the average employee in your sales teams has been with the business for over 4 years, and over half of those appear to have been promoted at least 3 times in that period and this appeals to my ambitious nature and my desire to….”
“I have of course done the usual and reviewed the About Us page on the website, but what I found really interesting was an interview given by your CEO to Top500 Magazine in which they outlined the amazing growth and success over the last 2 years, but more importantly the really exciting strategy and aspirations for the next 3 years, something I would relish being part of because I think my experience can contribute to that vision…”
“Let me ask you a question Mr Interviewee, what do you know about our organisation?”
I know that you are the first port of call from people who are really serious about their careers and I thought the fact that your team is full of some of the best in the industry would ensure that I can continue my own success and development accordingly …”
Researching a prospective employer prior to an interview requires more than a cursory visit to their website. If that is all you are going to do, then at the very least check out the news feed, the annual accounts and any press releases. But ideally cross reference competitors on Linkedin, know the kind of person who is a success in the business and where they come from and compare yourself to them accordingly when you get the chance in the interview. You have one chance to shine, may only have 45 mins to an hour in which to do it so don’t waste it rattling off information the interviewer already knows. Say something that say’s something about YOU!
*Cautionary Point: Don’t do the reverse and bore them senseless with too many examples. Keep it succinct, interesting and to the point.