Hiring managers often ask candidates the interview question, "What do you know about our company?"
When they do, they’re trying to find out two things:
- Do you care enough about the job to do your research? They want to hire someone who wants this specific job, not just any job, and someone who feels a passion for the work and the employer.
- Are you a good researcher? Even if the job they’re hiring for doesn’t specifically require research on the job, employers want to hire people who are curious, ask the right questions, and know how to find answers.
'What Do You Know About Our Company?'
Preparation is key to answering this question effectively.
Do your research, and be prepared to demonstrate that you've taken the time to learn as much as you can about the company and – in some cases – the interviewer.
Learn relevant, even critical information about the company so that you can apply your qualifications and interest not just to the job, but to the employer as well.
The selection process often is based on how well the candidate fits in the organizational culture, and part of this fit is based on how well you present yourself to the interviewer and your level of interest in the company that might be cutting your paycheck.
Research the Company
Start by researching the company online. Review the "About Us" section of the company website, paying attention to the organization’s history, achievements, goals, and values.
If the company lists founders and/or an executive team, take the time to familiarize yourself with those folks and their achievements. You may not meet with any of the bigwigs during the interview process, but it helps to get a sense of who’s in charge and what their careers have looked like. Plus, by learning their names and faces, you can avoid being caught unawares if you run into one of them in the elevator or the reception area.
Use Your College Career Office
If you're a college graduate, check with the Career Office at your school to see if you can get a list of alumni who work for the company. That's an ideal way to get an insider's view of the employer and to get information that might not be available elsewhere. Also, you might find an alumnus who may be able to help you get an inside track to the organization and maybe the job. A connection with a current employee is always helpful in getting the hiring manager’s attention. You’re much more likely to make it to the next round if someone who’s already on the team will vouch for you.
Use Social Media
Check the company's LinkedIn page and the company website to review the information provided by the employer. Also, check to see if you have any other connections at the company who can provide you with insight and advice. If it's a publicly traded company, check out the "Investor Relations" page on its website to learn more about the financial side of the enterprise.
Visit the company's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media pages to see what information the company is promoting and sharing. You'll be able to pick up tidbits of information that you may be able to use during the interview. Search Google News for the company name so you can find the most current information available on your prospective employer.
Also, research the people who will be interviewing you. Review their LinkedIn profiles and Google their names to see what information you can find. The more you can discover, the more comfortable you will be speaking to them.
How to Use What You've Learned in the Job Interview
Once you've had at least one interview at the company, you'll have a wealth of information to use in subsequent rounds. Here's how to use what you've learned.
Create a List of Facts to Remember
Use the information you have gathered to create a list of bullets containing information that you can easily remember during the interview. Taking the time to research will help you make a good impression about how much you know of the company.
Connect With the Hiring Manager
In the course of your research, you might find that the hiring manager went to your school or lived in your hometown, or you might learn that the company sponsors a day of volunteering on an annual basis. Use what you’ve learned to forge a genuine connection to the people you’re speaking with. Show your enthusiasm.
Formulate Your Own Questions
At the end of the interview, most hiring managers will ask you if you have any questions for them. Use your research to create your interview questions and fill in the gaps in your knowledge. These questions shouldn’t be anything that you can learn through additional research; rather, they should be things that aren’t readily accessible via the web, such as “Can you describe a typical day in this position?” or “What is this company’s management style?”
Examples of the Best Answers
Take a look at these sample answers and use them as models to create your own responses to the question, “What do you know about our company?”
Volunteerism has always been an important part of my life – an example set for me by my parents. When I was researching potential employers, I was impressed by your company’s longstanding dedication to community service. It was exciting for me to learn that your personnel can use up to 7 days of paid time to volunteer, and I also loved learning how everyone pulls together once a year to sponsor a charity golf tournament. It would be great to know I was working for an organization that actively gives back to our community!
Why It Works: In her response, this job candidate demonstrates how her own personal priorities align with the company’s policy of volunteer service. It’s clear that she’s taken the time to do her research, and her enthusiasm for the organization’s stance suggests that she will be a dedicated team player.
I went to school with Jane Lewis, who you hired two years ago as part of your software development team. We’ve kept in touch, and she can’t speak highly enough about your company culture and the support that management provides to team members. She praises ATech’s dedication to helping its employees maintain a sane work / life balance – as do your other employees, obviously, since you won the 2018 award as a “Top 10 best software company workplace.” Jane’s enthusiasm is one reason why I’m so very excited about the possibility of being able to work for you.
Why It Works: It’s always good to have an “inside track” at a company. Here, the interviewee does some effective name-dropping, complemented by the fact that he has taken the initiative to learn about corporate rankings and awards.
I’ve always wanted to use my marketing training to “get in on the ground floor” of a new enterprise. I was excited to read the interviews that your CEO, Mark Jones, provided to Business Today and Companies to Watch – his vision for the future of ABC Company as a green services provider is, I think, revolutionary. His enthusiasm coupled with your unique subscription business model can translate into golden marketing copy, and I would welcome the challenge to build your brand presence both in the U.S. and abroad.
Why It Works: This response works well because the candidate has obviously taken the time to learn as much as he can not only about the job he’s interviewing for, but also about the organization’s corporate leadership and the systems that have positioned it for growth and success.
Possible Follow-Up Questions
- Why should we hire you? - Best Answers
- Why do you want this job? - Best Answers
- What are your salary expectations? - Best Answers
RESEARCH THE COMPANY: Before your interview, learn everything you can about your prospective employer by reviewing their website, scanning relevant social media (LinkedIn and Facebook pages), and “googling” the company’s name and the names of its leadership.
DRAW ON YOUR NETWORK: Reach out to people you know who have worked for the company in order to gain an “insider’s” view of its company culture and departmental structure and climate.
MAKE A LIST AND CHECK IT TWICE. Or even three times, before you walk into your interview. Write down a bulleted list of the information you’ve gathered about the company, its mission statement, its corporate leadership, and its business and operating models.